This year’s UNCP men’s basketball team only featured one senior on the roster and that was forward James Murray-Boyles also known as JB for short. The Columbia, S.C. native has spent his entire collegiate career with the Black and Gold and finished his career with 1,369 points, 574 rebounds and played a total of 2,470 minutes.
After playing a key role coming off the bench for the Braves in his first three seasons, he was given the lead role on this year’s team as he finished as the leading scorer with a total of 458 points on the year despite finishing fourth on the team in total minutes on the year with 731.
He’s enjoyed a lot of success during his time with the program as he never experienced a losing season as a Brave and has been part of a team that advanced to the NCAA Southeast Regional tournament in every year following his freshman year.
As he prepares to move on to life after college as he will graduate this spring, he took a look back at his time as a Brave and shared some of his favorite and most memorable moments from the last four years.
Takeaways from his senior season:
“It was an up and down season but overall it was a good experience. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how to be a leader…It was tough, but it was a good experience. I’ve never been in this kind of position, but it was a good experience,” said Murray-Boyles about his overall feelings on his final season with the program.
Typically, being the only senior on a young team puts a lot of pressure on that player to be the alpha dog or the main leader on the team. However, Murray-Boyles said that his coaching staff along with his teammates didn’t allow him to feel that kind of pressure by helping him on and off the court.
The significance of being a part of this program:
“When I came here. I never would have thought that I would’ve accomplished all that I’ve accomplished here,” said Murray-Boyles. “I never thought that I would have so much fun in these four years, but it’s been a really good experience coming here.”
On why he chose to join the program:
“I was really the coaching staff and just how they made it feel like home. The players made me feel wanted and the coaching staff told me exactly what they wanted from me and what I would be able to bring to the team and I fell in love with their philosophy,” said Murray-Boyles.
How his coaches and teammates helped him grow on and off the court:
“I came off the bench for my first three years and that thought me that everything is not going to go your way and sometimes you have to be patient, which was good because I started my senior year,” said Murray-Boyles.
“Knowing that you could have started the first three years but that s not what the team needed. Having the sacrifice for the team is one of the big things that they taught me and that I learned from them.”
How much he has learned from the unselfish mantra that Head Coach Ben Miller preaches:
“It has taught me a lot because you have to learn how to sacrifice when you have so many talented players on the same team and that can only help you grow as a man for the future,” said Murray-Boyles.
How confident he was coming into the season that he could be a strong threat on offense:
“I knew coming into the season that the team was going to need me to score. Especially with losing Nigel [Grant] and [Brandon] Watts, they were our leading scorers last year, so I knew the team was going to need somebody to step up and be that guy who is able to score the ball,” said Murray-Boyles.
Although he doesn’t have a single favorite teammate because he views them all as his brothers, he has forged a bond with redshirt junior Carson Mounce as the two friends were members of the same recruiting class.
“He’s been my roommate since I got here and that’s why he’s one of my favorite teammates. We came in together,” said JB. Our relationship is strong. We see each other every day but we might not even talk but we have a good relationship.”
“My freshman year, it was a home game and we were playing Young Harris at home. It was Alumni Day and me and Carson came off the bench and played a really well in front of all of our returning players and staff,” said Murray-Boyles.
He believes that his best games came during the early portion of his senior season against a pair of non-conference opponents in Catawba and Wingate. In the game against the Indians, he finished 7-of-12 from the field for a team-leading 19 points in the Braves 80-75 overtime victory. Against the Bulldogs, he led the team in scoring again with 18 points and added seven rebounds.
Most memorable moment:
He said his most memorable moment came last year during his junior season when the Black and Gold won the Peach Belt Conference championship on the home court of their rival Clayton State. They had split the regular season series, but the Lakers got home court advantage for the conference tournament. However, the Braves would end up winning the conference title 70-60 in a third matchup with their hosts.
“They had beat us on their homecoming and their gym was hype. They had so many fans there, it was really loud, and we came back and beat them on that same court for the conference tournament championship so that was a pretty good moment, cutting down the nets,” said JB.
The best team he was on:
“The best team had to be last year’s team when we had Nigel [Grant] and [Brandon] Watts. We had me and Akia [Pruitt] with pretty much the same time we had this year except for a couple of players like Cam [Hamilton] and Spencer [Levi],” said JB. “We were locked, and we were loaded. We had a lot of talent.”
The most fun team he was on:
When posed with the question his first inclination was to go with either his sophomore year or last season but then he reconsidered and cited this year during last season sporting the Black and Gold as the year in which he had the most fun.
Plans after graduation:
“I’ll be signing with an agent soon so I’ll be playing somewhere professionally after I graduate,” said Murray-Boyles who might be playing overseas or perhaps in a developmental league in the U.S. following graduation in May.
Where ever he ends up after his time at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke comes to an end, the lessons he learned and the bonds he made during his time here will stick with him for the rest of his life. JB believes that he will stay in contact with the coaches and teammates that considers his family long after his playing career is concluded.