Boykin makes his mark as a Wildcat


Guard Gamaun Boykin (JR) has averaged 14.1 points per game so far this season. Boykin's best point game this season was at California State University Monterey Bay with a total of 23.

Dez Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor

When Gamaun Boykin, junior guard for the CWU men’s basketball team, was narrowing in on his fourth high school 5A state title, he had no idea what kind of detriment a loss would put on him. A senior at Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, GA, the basketball powerhouse was a favorite to win it all once again. After all, the team had already won three consecutive titles before Boykin arrived and was looking to extend the historical run to seven straight.

However, the unexpected happened. A loss in the elite eight that took everyone by surprise. The major upset shut Boykin down inside, leaving him feeling as if he had let his teammates and family down. He had received a lot of high recruitment offers during his high school career, but the aftermath of the loss continued to linger on inside him.

Colleges came calling, but Boykin remained silent.

Early Life

Boykin lost his father at only 2 years old. His mother and younger brother lived in Youngstown, Ohio where he was a star athlete in both football and basketball.

“My mom and brother have always motivated me,” Boykin said. “Knowing my dad wasn’t here kind of pushed me too. It gave me a little chip on my shoulder growing up.”

His natural athletic abilities didn’t change the fact that there wasn’t much offered in the troubled town, especially for a mother looking to raise two young children safely.

The family packed their belongings and moved to Lithonia, Georgia when he was 13 years old. Boykin never questioned his mother’s decision. He only stressed about needing to build his foundation once again from scratch.

“Everybody knew how I was back home in Ohio,” Boykin said. “When I moved to Georgia I had to start over and show everyone who I was.”

The process began by continuing to play football and basketball. The 6-foot-3 athlete played quarterback and was in line to be the future face of the team. However, he noticed two main differences that proved to be too difficult for him to continue wanting to play: the bigger sized players and the extreme Georgia weather.

“I got there and it was very hot. I asked myself if I was really trying to be outside and honestly it was just too hot for me out there,” Boykin said. “The guys were also so much bigger. That’s really a football state, so those guys were meant for football.”

Making the decision to focus on basketball was easy. He always had the natural ability to play and the A/C would stay on all year round in the gym. It also helped that the high school he committed to playing for had a proven track record of winning state titles.

College Career

Boykin’s hesitation to decide where to commit to play basketball provided few options for him in the end.

He decided to make the trip west to enroll and play at Southwestern Community College, a junior college in Chula Vista, CA. There, he started as a freshman.

“I remember looking at the coach asking like ‘are you crazy? You have grown men over there, why are you starting me?,” Boykin said. “But he saw something in me that just gave me confidence. My confidence just started to grow from that point.”

Something still didn’t feel right though. A tough living situation for him and his teammates factored into his decision to transfer. He left and ultimately traveled north to Yakima Valley Community College his sophomore year.

After sitting out a year due to transfer eligibility for athletes, he quickly stood out as a player to watch, averaging 21.6 points per game while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range. The performance was good enough to earn Boykin a Northwest Athletic Conference All-Eastern Region First Team selection, putting him back on the radar.

“I was getting recruited by a lot of schools, D1 and D2,” Boykin said. “I didn’t want to choose a D1 school just because it was D1. I wanted to have an opportunity to be somebody and play.”

Faith in the Decision

Boykin was at a roadblock, not knowing where to play his final two years of college basketball. Driving to Yakima one day with a decision needing to be made soon, he remembers asking God to send him a sign about what his decision should be. Five minutes later his phone started ringing. It was CWU men’s basketball head coach Brandon Rinta.

“He called just to check in and see what I was doing,” Boykin said. “I was like ‘wow that’s crazy’ just the irony of what I just prayed about and then I get a phone call from him. That was the sign right there.”

Rinta had always remained resilient with the recruitment of Boykin. The ability to show that he cared about Boykin as more than just as an athlete is what put it over the top.

“I appreciated him for that honestly. At the end of the day I was going to make my decision based on where I was most comfortable,” Boykin said. “I feel comfortable here, he just continued to show me things that other coaches didn’t.”

Boykin committed to play his final two years for the Wildcats. Now in the back half of his junior season, he is finding a lot of success on and off the court. He leads the team in points (14.1) and rebounds (5.6) per game, and finished with a 3.3 GPA last quarter.

“He is the best rebounding guard that I have ever coached. That’s just pure effort,” Rinta said. “He’s got a nose for the basketball and he goes and gets it. He’s a complete player.”

The journey from Ohio to where he is now has been a long and stressful one for Boykin. Nevertheless, he is always seen walking around with a smile on his face enjoying every moment with his friends, teammates and coaches.

“I just want to be great and be the best that I can possibly be,” Boykin said. “You work so hard for certain things so when you start to see light shed on some of the things you’ve worked so hard for, it’s definitely rewarding.”