Blackbirds' star forward rehabbing following tear of ACL in July
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Perhaps there should be a photo of LIU-Brooklyn forward Julian Boyd next to the word "perseverance" in the dictionary.
The Blackbirds' senior forward has had to overcome a potential life-threatening heart ailment and a brutal knee injury on his way to becoming one of the greatest basketball players in the Downtown school's history.
The former Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player has been at the forefront of LIU's charge to an unprecedented NEC title three-peat since arriving here in 2008 from William Howard Taft High School in San Antonio.
That's why it was so disappointing, and disheartening, when Boyd, fighting his way back from a devastating knee injury suffered last December, re-tore his anterior cruciate ligament nearly two months ago during a stationary shooting workout at the Blackbirds' practice facility.
Forced to sit out LIU's historic run to a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance earlier this year, Boyd was eager to get back on the hardwood after he was declared eligible to play for the Blackbirds again in 2013-14.
But one false move on the court in mid-July has thrown him yet another obstacle in his path to being back with his teammates for their November season opener.
“He was devastated and I was devastated for him," LIU-Brooklyn second-year coach Jack Perri told the Eagle on Tuesday. "He’s a wonderful kid and a special kid. He’s been through so much adversity, but he’s handled it as well as possible. He’s been so positive the last month and a half. That’s the only way to get through it. He’s attacking this rehab and he’s doing all that he can to get back.”
It's hard to argue with Perri, who has watched, first as an assistant and then as the Blackbirds' head coach, as Boyd fought his way back into the lineup after sitting out the entire 2009-10 campaign with a serious heart condition that many thought would end his collegiate career.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound swingman was just coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign when that news hit, but he returned in grand fashion in 2010-11, leading the Blackbirds to the first of their three straight NEC titles.
In 2011-12, Boyd was even better, helping former head coach Jim Ferry's crew grab its second straight NEC crown while earning Player of the Year and Tournament MVP honors.
One of the top small-school prospects in the entire nation, Boyd appeared poised to carry the Blackbirds to even greater heights last season, perhaps even their first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
But that dream ended on Dec. 12 in his native Texas at Rice University when he went down for the season with the original tear of the ACL.
Perri, knowing Boyd's penchant for resiliency, is hopeful that his top returning player will be able to rejoin his teammates once the Blackbirds open the all-important NEC portion of their schedule in January.
“That’s the plan," Perri revealed. "There is a timetable that we’re hoping he could be back in January. He’s working hard to do that. He already had the second [knee] surgery in July. He's had his ups and downs with this rehab. So far, so good. This first month, he’s doing well. We’ll see how he progresses over the next couple of months. He can help contribute.”
Boyd's contributions may be just as important off the court as they are on it as the Blackbirds pursue Title IV during this history-making era for LIU basketball.
With a host of young, talented recruits hoping to fill the void Boyd's injury has left, Perri wants his fearless floor leader to mentor those who will be getting their first taste of Division I basketball come November.
“It’s vital that he helps those young guys learn," Perri noted. "Aside from his rehab assignments, he has to be here for any practice time to help those guys.”
Considering how many setbacks he's suffered en route to a brilliant collegiate career, Perri insisted that the LIU medical team would be diligent in its monitoring of Boyd's latest comeback, especially when considering that a potential career as a professional could be awaiting the 23-year-old athletic training major.
“We’re not going to put him at risk," Perri said. "If he’s not 100 percent healthy, we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize his career. When he is 100 percent healthy, and only then, will we play him.”