The storybook senior season for Florida guard Kenny Boynton has not stuck to its script.
By now, many expected Boynton would be closing in on UF’s scoring record. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. The 6-foot-2 former McDonald’s All-American from Pompano Beach is down to just 12.5 points per game this season after a two-point, 1-for-7 shooting night at Tennessee.
At 1,927 points, Boynton remains 3 points behind Andrew Moten for second on UF’s scoring list. Unless Boynton goes on a tear in March (which would be a welcome sight for Gator fans), he’ll have a hard time catching all-time scoring leader Ronnie Williams, who is at 2,090 points.
The Tennessee game capped a brutal February for Boynton. He averaged 9.9 points per game while shooting 24 percent from 3-point range (12-50).
Boynton’s senior struggles are eerily reminiscent of Brett Nelson, who went through a similar slump as a senior in 2003 and eventually lost his starting job to freshman Anthony Roberson. But Donovan remains confident in Boynton’s shooting and decision-making.
“Guys project how a guy is playing or not playing based on whether or not the ball is going in the basket and certainly here the last few games he hasn’t made the number of shots that he has made,” Donovan said. “He had a stretch there to start the year where he really wasn’t shooting the ball, and then he went on a tear for a little bit and maybe here lately, he’s not.”
For the season, Boynton is shooting 32.8 percent from 3-point range, down from the 40.7 he shot from the same distance as a junior. In SEC games, Boynton is barely shooting over 30 percent (29-96, 30.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
At this point, Donovan is concerned about Boynton taking good shots rather than contested shots. He felt he got off to a poor shooting start this season because he took too many looks that weren’t open.
“In the Tennessee game, he only took seven shots,” Donovan said. “He didn’t take a lot of shots, he had a couple of good looks that didn’t go down. He had a good drive to the basket that came up a little bit short. He’s just got to stick with it and continue to take good shots.”
Down 58-54 with 1:12 left against Tennessee, Boynton missed a wide-open 3-pointer in transition. On the play, teammate Erik Murphy was wide open underneath the basket for a potential easy two-point basket. Donovan said he didn’t view the shot as a selfish play.
“Erik was open there,” Donovan said. “But that happens a lot of times. There’s times Patric (Young) gets the ball, and throws the ball out of the post and there’s a guy wide open, he throws it to a guy that’s kind of semi-open. That’s gonna happen there.
“I always look a guys intent. Kenny has been an unselfish player for a good portion of this SEC schedule. He’s had the best assist-to-turnover ratio of anybody in the league. I think he’s grown in that area. I think he plays the right way.”
Murphy, for one, is confident that his senior classmate will bounce back. He’s witnessed Boynton get on a shooting roll before, and thinks he’s capable of another hot streak.
“I’m not worried about that at all,” Murphy said. “KB’s a great player. I’m not worried about him turning it around. He might not be shooting it as well as he has in the past, but I think he’s playing great in all other aspects of the game, you know. That’s something that he’s worked at and he’s gotten a lot better at it, and it’s helping us as a team. I don’t think he has to do any turning around. He’s doing fine right now. His shots will fall. I trust him in that phase.”
– Donovan said he did not get a chance to see 2013 signee Chris Walker at the Class A state finals in Lakeland. Assistant coach Matt McCall went instead. In the state semifinals and finals, the 6-foot-10 Walker averaged 25 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks, leading Holmes County a state title. “Really happy for him and their team,” Donovan said. “Sounded like he played great and probably for a small area like Holmes County, I’m sure it was a big deal for them, winning a state championship. So I was happy for those guys.”
– Murphy said there is no particular reason why he doesn’t take part in pregame shoot-arounds, which are optional. It’s not like the 6-foot-10 senior needs warming up. He still leads the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage at 46.7 percent. from beyond the arc. “The whole season and last season, too, that’s just what I do,” Murphy said. “It’s my ritual.”