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Jim Stiepan on Jamal Boykin

We're received the following report on Jamal Boykin at a tournament in Whittier.

I had the opportunity to see Jamal Boykin in action briefly on Saturday with his Belmont Shore amateur team at a tourney in Whittier. I was there with the expectation of watching him in both an afternoon and evening game. Unfortunately, Jamal had to miss the afternoon event, and most of the rest of his team were no-shows in the evening. The upshot was that Jamal only got to play one half of basketball Saturday evening.

Because of the limited playing time, I need to reserve judgment on some aspects of Jamal’s game. But I did see enough to offer a few observations.

The first observation concerns what Jamal is NOT. Despite the many posted descriptions, he is not a power forward
or at least he will not be a power forward at the next level. My estimation from up close is that Jamal stands perhaps 6-5 ½ . He has a strong frame, but is not a wide body. Nor does he have the hops of a Vince Carter or a Corey Maggette. So while he will snag his share of rebounds in high school contests, he is not likely to be a force on the boards in college. Instead, he should be viewed as a small forward and his game evaluated from that perspective.

Despite that qualification, I was impressed with Jamal. He is a fluid athlete with good court sense and the quickness to be effective at the 3 position. I would have liked a more extended opportunity to assess his ball handling and passing skills, but I liked what I did see. His most potent weapon is an extraordinary ability to slash with the ball along the baseline to the hoop and finish with a reverse lay-up, using the rim as a shield. He was able to score repeatedly with that move, although he wasn’t faced with any real defensive step-in hp.

In terms of physical stature, I would compare Jamal with Nate James. However, given what I saw of Nate at the same stage of development, I consider Jamal a better prospect. Nate was more of a pure post player in high school, whereas Jamal plays well facing the basket and has better ball handling skills. The big question about Jamal is his ability to hit the outside shot. Since he only took one on Saturday, I cannot offer any evaluation other to say that his form looked good. But given his height (or lack thereof), his ability to stick it from the perimeter will determine whether he will be a four-year contributor or a four-year star at Duke.

One final note. As represented, Jamal seemed like a great kid. He has an upbeat personality, takes charge on the court, and plays with enthusiasm. He even showed some rare integrity by motioning that a ball went out of bounds off him. It is impossible not to like him.

Jim Stiepan '73