When he first arrived at Cal after transferring from Duke, Jamal Boykin says he felt “invisible” as an athlete.
Not after helping the basketball team to its first conference title in 50 years.
“We have definitely received the most support, love and encouragement from the faculty, student body and community since I’ve been here,” the senior forward said Tuesday during the team’s weekly media gathering. “In years past, it was, `Oh, he’s tall, he must play basketball.’ Now it’s, `Boykin, congratulations!’ That’s been really cool.”
Guard Patrick Christopher had a similar experience when he first arrived in Berkeley as a freshman.
“I remember a group of people I hung around a long time didn’t even know I played basketball . . . which is good, too. I found that kind of cool ,” he said.
“It’s been really exciting,” echoed point guard Jerome Randle. “A lot of `Yeah, you guys did it. A lot of pats on the back. A lot of smiles. I’m proud to say I’m part of Cal basketball.”
Asked what kind of reaction he’s gotten, coach Mike Montgomery went deadpan.
“People know me. Over the years, they know it’s better to let me be.”
Montgomery said he’s happy his players are sharing the moment with others in the community.
“I think everybody’s excited. A lot of people waited a long time and probably were fearful of being let down again,” Montgomery said. “When we finally won, it was probably a load off a lot of people’s minds. It’s been pretty positive.”