Stealing Kenny Boynton
and bringing him to Gainesville was an important piece of the back-to-back Elite Eight runs Florida
has put together. This year, they're looking for more, again led by what Boynton is doing.
The recent years have been helped by Boynton's points. He's still this team's leading scorer—averaging 13.4 points—this year, but there's something more to his game. While serving as the team's backup point guard, Boynton is averaging 3.4 assists this season.
That number might not sound like a big one.
For Boynton, it's impressive. The 3.4 assists would be a career high, but it's more of a sign of the progression Boynton has gone through on the court. He came to Gainesville with a reputation for putting up points, and while those have also come, he has been more productive in other ways this season.
"There's so much hype, exposure and publicity, and Kenny was clearly one of the best high school players coming out," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "People think it's going to be a year or two and they'll be in the NBA. It doesn't work like that. It's got nothing to do with your game sometimes."
It gave Boynton time to focus on how to make his game better. The signs of his improved passing are hard to miss. Boynton has the best assist-to-turnover ratio of any player during conference games this season, and his ten-assist game on Saturday continued to show the signs.
"He's focused on how to make our team better," Donovan said. "I'm not so sure Kenny Boynton could've done that as a freshman. I don't think he had the mindset to do that. Through experience, he has become a good decision maker."
The Florida big men are still adjusting to the change. Florida center Patric Young joked that whenever Boynton used to touch the ball, he would prepare to get a good position on the floor to rebound. That's not the case anymore. Now, he has to be more aware and try to get better position in the paint for potentially receiving a pass.
"He has grown up being in college," Young said. "He's playing the right way. He's a lot smarter and taking better shots. He's more efficient."
STAYING MOTIVATED: The same challenge remains for Donovan that has been there in recent weeks. It hasn't been tough for him to find ways to motivate his veteran team, especially since their closest game of the last 10 was a 14-point win over Ole Miss on Saturday, but that could be coming.
As the wins keep piling up, there's a better chance the Gators could come out flat against a lesser opponent at some point soon. Donovan continues to challenge the team not to get complacent.
"You've got a choice to make every time you walk out there," Donovan said. "You can work to get better or come in with the attitude to want to be complacent or not want to work. It's human nature. You're always taking yourself out of your comfort zone.
"As a coach, I'm always trying to put those guys in situation where they're forced to be taken out of their comfort zone."
The Gators have set the bar high with an 8-0 start in conference play. Donovan doesn't plan to let those expectations drop now that the team has shown what it is capable of doing this year.
"Once they do something that's really good, why as a coach would you not expect that out of them every single day?" Donovan said. "If they do it once, why are they incapable of doing it at a more consistent level?
"You're never going to have consistency unless you're focused on trying to get better."
Kenny Boynton came to Gainesville four years ago billed as one of the top high school players in the country. Before starting his senior year, Boynton even admitted that he never imagined he would play at Florida for four years. His game has changed while being a four-year starter for the Gators, as he recorded his first career ten-assist game in a win over Ole Miss on Saturday.