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Michigan assistant Mike Boynton Jr. says Dusty May 'wants to win now,' talks early returns on recruiting

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie04/18/24


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New Michigan Wolverines basketball staffer Mike Boynton Jr. is one of five assistant coaches under head man Dusty May, but he’s the only one with head-coaching experience himself, after leading Oklahoma State from 2017-24.

When Boynton accepted an assistant job at Stephen F. Austin in 2013, he inaccurately told his wife, Jenny, that the school was located in Austin, Texas. This time he took a new job, he didn’t have to do any explaining (or backtracking), since Jenny is a Holland, Mich., native.

A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Boynton had other opportunities, he said on an appearance on the ‘Defend The Block’ podcast with host Brian Boesch, but ultimately decided on Michigan.

“Dusty, I followed his career. He was actually at Louisiana Tech when I was at Stephen F. Austin, and that’s really the first time that I had any interaction with him, but I’ve always respected the way he did business, what he cared about — and I knew he’d be successful,” Boynton said. “So when this came up, maybe a week after I was let go as head coach at Oklahoma State, it wasn’t a no-brainer, because there were some other things out there, but it became quickly apparent when I talked to my wife about the opportunity at the University of Michigan that this is a place we needed to be.”

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Boynton noted that his wife’s parents still live in Holland, and the family will get to be together more often now.

The new Michigan assistant hasn’t been able to do much exploring in Ann Arbor since joining the staff, though. The Wolverines have been on the move, attempting to build a roster.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve met very few people who I’ve felt like I’ve gotta step up my energy game for,” Boynton said. “I was 35 when I got my first head-coaching job in the Big 12 and hit the ground running and worked my tail off and had a great staff and great people around me. But Dusty is a guy who I’ve had to go to bed at night just making sure I’ve done everything that I was supposed to, because he really brings that every single day — and he’s so positive about it.

“And he believes in the mission of the University of Michigan. That’s what makes this such a great opportunity, is because his values align with the university’s, with the athletic department — and he believes that you can achieve a dual capacity here, where you can bring elite people here who are great students but also great athletes. And continue to push them toward their personal goals, but also connect them to this great network that is ‘go blue’ out there in the world.

“I’ve been on the road just a couple times in the last week, with a hat or a t-shirt on, and 10, 12 people, as soon as they see it. So the brand is really, really strong. It gives you the belief that, because of the connection of so many former players and great coaches in the history of this program, that what’s been done before can be done again here. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility to really believe national championships are attainable here.

“Churning out first-class people in all kind of private sectors in the world is possible here. And that’s what Coach May has been all about his whole life, so I’m excited about the opportunity to join this great staff and work for him.”

Boynton believes May will have success at Michigan due in part to his ability to adapt to different circumstances.

“I’ve coached against several of these coaches around the conference, and I just have such an amount of respect for all of them,” Boynton said of the Big Ten. “So you’re going to have the best of the best on your sideline, because everybody’s got great talent, but I think Michigan’s found a gem in Coach May because he’s forward-thinking, he’s not tied to one specific thing. He’s worked for different people and believes that he can be adaptable to this conference, the same way he was his first six years as a head coach at Florida Atlantic.”

Dusty May is ‘not a patient person,’ wants to win right away at Michigan

Boynton shed some light on May’s mindset when it comes to his first season at Michigan, attempting to turn around a Wolverines team that finished 8-24 in 2023-24.

“In my early conversations with Coach May … he’s not a very patient person,” Boynton remarked. “You would think, there’s been a lot of turnover, maybe your fan base would be patient if things get off to a little bit of a slow start and give you a chance to build, and he’s not of that mind at all. He wants to be good now.

“In light of the new age of how college athletics work, with guys being able to transfer and play right away, there’s an opportunity out there. And we’ve called several people who we’re connected with throughout the recruiting space, and a lot of them want their kids here, want their kids playing for Coach May, want their kids playing at the University of Michigan, having the opportunity to get a degree at some point from the University of Michigan.

“So, we can strike a great balance. We think we can put some really, really high-quality, high-talented freshmen who we can develop over some years alongside some guys who’ve had some experience winning in college basketball, being in college basketball practices that have had success. That we can balance our roster in a place that we can be competitive right away. That’s the mission that he’s set out for us, and our job as a staff is to follow that mission and try to execute it to the best that we can. 

“But the early returns, I’m making phone calls, I’ve been to a lot of schools. The response rate here has been greater than any place that I’ve been. I think a lot of it has to do with [former Michigan head] Coach [John] Beilein and [former forward] Rudy T[omjanovich] and the Fab Five and all the history and success that people have had, and all the people that still — even though they have maybe been gone for 25, 30 years — want to see this program be successful.

“So everybody’s invested in trying to get it back to a place where you can walk around with the ‘M’ on your chest very, very proud.”

Boynton added that it’s “easier to get people on the phone,” at Michigan than it is elsewhere, and “that’s half the battle.” He said he was forced to recruit more regionally at Oklahoma State but can expand the horizons with the Wolverines.

“I’ve made calls to New York, I’ve made calls to Paris, France, I’ve made calls to Atlanta, Georgia. And to a person, almost, everybody is like, ‘Yes, we’re very intrigued,'” Boynton said of recruiting for Michigan.

“Now, the flip side of that is that you gotta be selective. You got a chance because people want to be associated with it, but you don’t rush that process, that you’re very deliberate.

“The things that you value, the things that are going to make Coach May successful as a head coach, make him a very good leader is having guys that believe in what he believes in. They don’t just want to be at the University of Michigan, but want to invest in the University of Michigan, understanding what they’ll get in return will be a hundred fold.”

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