The toughest thing in life is to wonder what might’ve been. It gnaws at you. Makes you wish things had gone just a little differently.
Boyd has worked tirelessly to try to get back onto the basketball court. All accounts had him on track to play in the NEC opener against St. Francis Brooklyn on Jan. 9, but according to an LIU release he re-injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be unable to play for the Blackbirds this season.
The injury effectively ends one of the more storied careers in Blackbirds history. Boyd was a three-time NEC champion. When he came to LIU from San Antonio, TX he opened up a whole new world of recruiting. The Blackbirds continue to pull solid prospects out of Texas and much of it is due to Boyd’s presence.
Boyd was an imposing presence in the NEC from the start. He was the 2008-09 NEC Rookie of the Year. But then the setbacks started. After being diagnosed with noncompaction cardiomyopathy Boyd missed the entire 2009-10 season. He redshirted during what would’ve been his sophomore season.
Boyd returned for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and both times the Blackbirds were crowned NEC champions. Boyd was even named NEC Player of the Year and NEC Tournament MVP after the 2011-12 season. It was expected that he’d put together another dominant season as a senior and lead the Blackbirds to the NEC first ever three-peat.
But fate had other plans. Boyd injured his knee just after Christmas as the Blackbirds prepared to play in Texas on Dec. 26. That injury knocked him out for the remainder of the season and Boyd had to watch from the sidelines as Jamal Olasewere, C.J. Garner and Jason Brickman lifted the Blackbirds to their third NEC tournament title in three seasons and another berth in the NCAA tournament.
Through it all Boyd was relentlessly positive. You could watch him shooting the basketball at pre-game shoot arounds and not know anything was even wrong. Dedicated to the weight room, Boyd’s 6’7″ frame was just as imposing as any other forward in the NEC.
It seemed unlikely when Boyd re-injured his knee in July during rehab that he’d be able to return to the Blackbirds’ lineup this season. Knees just don’t heal that quickly. But Boyd worked tirelessly and kept his rehab on schedule. He was back in practice just before the new year and while he wasn’t yet cleared there was an expectation that maybe a 70% healthy Julian Boyd might be able to play some minutes for the Blackbirds and help Jack Perri find some desperately needed front court depth.
Unfortunately it won’t happen. This knee injury means the end of Boyd’s collegiate career. In three-plus seasons Boyd scored 1,467 points and collected 843 rebounds. He finishes his career 11th on the school’s all-time scoring list. He has already achieved the pinnacle of NEC awards.
But for LIU fans there will always be those questions in the back of their minds. What could’ve been if Boyd had stayed healthy? How special could the Blackbirds have been? What could they have done?
Now they’ll never know.