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Mike Boynton on the Wild Weekend that Landed Him Donovan Williams

How Boynton beat out K-State for Donovan Williams.



The ebbs and flows of recruiting seemed to have lower lows and higher highs than normal for Oklahoma State and Donovan Williams this past weekend.

Williams told PFB that he silently committed to K-State late last week, but when his announcement came Monday, he was wearing orange and black. In the same time span, OSU was thought to be the landing spot for four-star power forward JT Thor, but Thor chose Auburn on Sunday morning.

“Recruiting, man — it’s an interesting game in many ways,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said this week. “We spent quite a bit of time recruiting Donovan. In fact, I actually know exactly what the drive from Stillwater to Lincoln, Nebraska looks like. It’s not necessarily the prettiest drive, but it’s a pretty straight drive, actually, so it wasn’t that bad.

“I got to know him and his family, and I think in many ways timing was a big part of it. You get, especially in the late recruiting, where you got a larger window to sign and other things kinda come into play. I think that happened with him. There might have been a little bit of confusion on exactly where he wanted to take his career. I think at the end he finally saw or realized that this was the best opportunity. Not that K-State was a bad one — I think he thought had a good relationship there — but that this may have been something more appealing, gives him more opportunities to achieve all of his goals.”

Every recruit has a unique journey to their destination, but Williams’ has been particularly wacky. Out of Lincoln, Williams originally was committed to the hometown Cornhuskers last year when Tim Miles was the coach.

Nebraska went through a coaching change that brought in Fred Hoiberg, and Williams tore his ACL last April.

But luckily for the Pokes, and perhaps for Williams, too, Boynton got to see Lincoln’s lethal scorer before the injury that sidelined him all last summer and most of his senior season of high school ball. After Williams decommitted from Nebraska in December, that led Boynton to know the trip to Lincoln was worth it when Williams returned for the final 14 games of his high school career.

“We actually saw him, I did actually, at one of his last AAU games last April, right before he got injured,” Boynton said. “I think he had committed to Nebraska when Tim Miles was the coach before that. So the coaching transition and his injury kind of made it hard to a new staff at Nebraska to be all in. I understand the complexities of recruiting in state, so especially a kid in a city like that at a school like that, they may have wanted to take a little bit more of a wait-and-see approach. And maybe the kid didn’t like that. So he got away from that and opened it up.

“Yeah, he was injured for a large part of his senior season, but what I saw of him before he got injured was a kid who continued to get better. He’s got a scorer’s mentality. Coming off an ACL, he had a 50- and [44]-point game in back-to-back days. I mean, I never did that once, ever, and I never dealt with an ACL. I’m not sure I totaled 90 points in my career.”

Boynton said Williams has a unique ability to “think like a scorer,” and that is something his past few teams have lacked. Boynton said Williams’ developmental ceiling is high, and after an up-and-down weekend, he’ll do that developing in Stillwater.

“The kid and I had pretty consistent communication throughout the whole process,” Boynton said. “Basically he was down to us and K-State at the very end. I know Texas was listed, but it was really between us and K-State for really about the whole week. I think the kid really went back and forth for the whole time and at some point felt, ‘You know what, I think I might want to do this for these reasons.’ Then giving it more thought before he had to actually make a decision thought, ‘You know what, this is actually the best decision.’ I think that’s just where it got to.

“I think our relationship played a part in that. I think it’s played a part with a lot of these guys. I’ve tried to be pretty consistent recruiting them myself, and I’ve done it with pretty much our whole roster at this point now, starting with [Isaac] Likekele and [Yor] Anei and the [Boone] twins and all those guys. I think our relationship one-on-one was a big part of it, and he felt most comfortable coming here at the end of the day.”

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