A reunion of sorts tonight for seniors Jamal Boykin of Cal and Eric Boateng of Arizona State.
The two began their college careers at Duke, both transferring out as sophomores. Now they’ll bang one another in the low post when the Bears (13-6, 5-2) face the Sun Devils (14-6, 4-3) at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We were roommates. I consider him like a brother,” Boykin said this week. “You start out with someone in college, go through the same things, we have a special bond.”
Both played in these matchups a year ago, but power forward Boykin never guarded Boateng, or vice versa. Harper Kamp (injured) or Jordan Wilkes (departed) had the assignment for Cal against Boateng, a true center.
“It should be fun,” Boykin said.
Boateng made the call to exit first, and Boykin said he figured that opened the door a bit more for his future. He was going to redshirt that season, anyway, because he missed time with mononucleosis. Ultimately, he followed Boateng out the door.
“It was just a realization of where you stood in the program and understandng the role we had envisioned going into Duke wouldn’t be the role that would be carried out over those four years,” Boykin said.
Three years later, Boykin has no hard feelings. He said he enjoyed his time at Duke, and still follows them on TV. Actually, he can hardly get away from them.
“They’re on TV more than a lot of NBA teams. In our locker room, ESPN is on all the time, so you can’t help but see them,” he said. “I think they’re a great basketball team to watch.”
Boykin said the Bears, who play their next four games on the road, are entering a key stretch in their season.
“It’s very huge,” he said. “If we can come out on top of these four games, we’ll definitely be looking at the Pac-10 championship, which has been our goal for the past two years.”