Crystal Boyd: Arkansas rookie making her mark on the basketball court
Crystal Boyd could never turn down a chance to play basketball. Her enchantment with basketball began at six years of age. She was so enthralled by watching her older brother Learrie play with his friends that she would sit for hours, watch and wait for them to finish playing before grabbing the ball and mimicking what she saw on the court.
Soon thereafter, Boyd decided to take that passion to organized basketball. She wanted to play for the Dunbar Community Center recreational team in Little Rock, Arkansas, but was faced with a problem when she tried to join.
“I went to the community center to play, but you had to be eight years old,” the 5-11 Longhorn freshman recalls. “I really wanted to play, but since I was only six, I fibbed and told the coaches I was eight.”
That love for the game grew and grew and helped elevate Crystal’s game enough to the point where she was a bona fide Division I recruit. Known for her tremendous quickness and offensive explosiveness, Crystal made a name for herself early on. As a high school freshman at Parkview Arts and Sciences High School in Little Rock, Crystal netted 21 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and helped Parkview win the Arkansas state 5A title.
Three more strong years followed, and Boyd led Parkview to another state championship (as a junior), was tabbed Arkansas’ “Miss Basketball”, earned AAU All-America summer honors and claimed McDonald’s All-American and the Gatorade Arkansas Player of the Year awards in 2005 as a senior.
Early on, her standout play caught the eye of a fellow Arkansan – UT associate head coach Karen Aston, who hails from Benton, Arkansas and played college ball at Arkansas-Little Rock.
The chance to don the burnt orange and be part of UT basketball was an opportunity Boyd couldn’t pass up.
“I could have gone to a school where it would have been all about me getting attention and where I would have had a better chance of starting, but that wasn’t important to me,” Boyd said. “I love my Texas teammates. They had a really big impact on my decision to come here.”
Having played in seven games as a Longhorn to date, Boyd is averaging 4.4 points and two rebounds and has 10 steals. Her playing time has steadily increased, and in the last two games, Boyd has 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists while averaging 18 minutes per game of playing time. Boyd is becoming accustomed to the stiff competition which the 5-3 Longhorns have faced so far.
“The biggest difference between high school and college is that the game now is much faster,” Boyd said. “Everybody at this level is just as good as you, or better. It’s the little things that will separate you from someone else. It’s no longer just about talent; it’s about skill, perfecting your game and working on your weaknesses.”
“We are really looking for quality minutes from Crystal,” noted UT head coach Jody Conradt. “We know she is explosive offensively, but she’ll have limited minutes until she consistently shows us things on the defensive end of the floor. Hopefully, her overall performances over the last few games will inspire her to keep playing hard. She can really help us.”
Crystal’s ability to adapt to the next level has come easier with the help of the Texas coaches, who have helped teach her and the other six freshmen the nuances of the college game.
“They’ve been very patient with us, and it has helped all of us out,” stated Boyd. “We know we’re going to have to play this year and contribute, and the coaches are doing a good job of giving us time and explaining everything.”
One thing that Boyd didn’t need an explanation about was the tradition that goes with playing for Texas. Although she isn’t a native Texan, Boyd is no stranger to Texas athletics, and cites UT’s prestigious sports programs as one of the factors that drew her to the Forty Acres.
“It’s an honor to wear The University of Texas uniform,” Boyd said. “To come out and play in front of the fans we have, it really means a lot to me. There are so many people who would love to be where I’m at, and I’m thrilled to be able to play for Texas.”
After living in Arkansas her entire life, Boyd is adapting well to her new school and surroundings.
“I love the environment here—it is very creative and artsy,” Boyd said. “Attending school here is a great opportunity. A University of Texas degree is worth more than a degree from anywhere else.”
While she is at UT, Boyd hopes to major in radio television and film in order to gain experience in her ultimate dream - producing music. Boyd has been writing songs and poetry since sixth grade, and uses her spare time to work on her musical projects.
“I’ve always loved music,” Boyd said. “I got my first keyboard when I was in sixth grade and I started making beats. Now that I have my laptop and my new MIDI keyboard, I’m burning CDs of my music.”
That passion for music has also helped her succeed on the court. Because the requirements to succeed in music are similar to basketball, Boyd is flourishing on the hardwood.
“Practice always makes you better,” Boyd said. “To take it the next level, you have to continue to practice, learn new things and love what you are doing. I’m just trying to take everything I learn, absorb it, work on it and continue to grow.”