You wouldn't think Providence Catholic would have a whole lot in common with Quincy, Simeon, Peoria Manual, Proviso East, Farragut, Glenbrook North, Lincoln and St. Joseph when it came to prep basketball.
The latter are all basketball powerhouses in Illinois. The former had some glory years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but by and large has been absent from the state's prep hoops dialogue in comparison to those other giants.
The connection? Providence, just like Quincy, Simeon, Peoria Manual, Proviso East, Farragut, Glenbrook North, Lincoln and St. Joseph, has had multiple McDonald's All-Americans.
Taking a walk back memory lane, Walter Downing was a McDonald's All-American in 1981. He helped Providence to a Class A state title in 1979 and then led the Celtics to an Elite Eight berth in 1981. Michael Thompson, who signed with Duke out of Providence Catholic, was a McDonald's All-American in 2002.
There have been a few other Division I players who played their prep hoops at the New Lenox school, most notably Tavaras Hardy, who went on to a successful career at Northwestern, where he's an assistant coach today.
There was also Barney Mines, the leader of that 1979 state title team before going on to play at Bradley. And there were a few others, including Charles Jones (Pacific), Eric Dantzler (Creighton) and Julius Ammons (Idaho State).
Though Providence hasn't been a basketball factory, it's churned out over a handful of Division I players over the past three decades. And it looks as if another one is on the way.
Providence sophomore Miles Boykin is impressive. He's an up-and-coming talent in the Class of 2015 who has caught the Hoops Report's eye. And everyone Providence has played this season has been equally impressed.
He's not going to be the third McDonald's All-American out of Providence, but he's headed towards Division I prospect status. He jumped on the Hoops Report radar this past summer while playing in a couple of high school shootouts with the Celtics. Now he's impacting games at the varsity level.
"He has come a long way since last November," says Providence coach Tim Trendel.
Boykin is averaging 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds a game on the season. In his last two games, Boykin went for 19 points and 12 rebounds in a win over St. Joseph and followed it up with 28 and 15 in a win over Nazareth Academy.
After watching Boykin on Sunday in the Benedictine Shootout, it's clear he's become more versatile and is prepared to impact games on a regular basis, even as a young player. He has the body type and presence that instantly intrigues you. Then he stepped out and knocked down a couple of three-pointers.
The 6-5 Boykin is put together at a young age with an impressive build and frame. And when his motor is running and he's playing with energy, Boykin can be a force on the glass. Although he does have skill -- Boykin handles the ball pretty well and will knock down shots, even out to the three-point line with an improving jumper -- he's still in the transition period of becoming a true, comfortable, all-around wing.
"He put some time in on his perimeter shot and it's improving daily, which is what he would need for the next level," Trendel points out. "But the biggest thing that has impressed me is just his mindset. He is no longer playing passive. He is really looking to attack at both ends."
With size, strength and athleticism already positive attributes, Boykin's aggressiveness and motor are beginning to turn the corner. He is using his strengths to his advantage with his rebounding, finishing around the basket and on the defensive end. Boykin has the chance to be a game-changing defender, capable of guarding multiple positions, both now and at the next level.
"We knew he was a great athlete with great touch," Trendel adds. "It's a matter of time with his jumper. But his new-found aggressive mentality has been a huge boost for us this year."
With Boykin and under-appreciated guard Kevin Kozan, a high-scoring perimeter threat who averages 19 points a game and is closing in on 1,000 career points, Trendel has a team worth paying close attention to going forward. The Celtics, who won 17 games and a regional title a year ago, will be a thorn in the side for some Catholic League teams this winter and a sleeper in the Thornton Sectional this March.
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