Jaylon Floyd’s reduced role from regular starter this season might be misleading.
For someone who hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in his previous eight games, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff forward from Detroit has made his mark as a junior: His 60.6 percent field-goal shooting ranks highest among regulars in the Golden Lions’ lineup. (Jared Young, shoots 100 percent, but has attempted only two shots in four games.)
The improvement in the Golden Lions’ otherwise inexperienced bench has led to reduced minutes for the 6-foot-6 Floyd, who averages only 1.6 points (he’s made 20 of only 33 from the field). Coach George Ivory said there were no negatives in Floyd’s play that slid him out of the starting rotation, where he spent nine of the first 14 games.
Floyd hasn’t let the change in minutes discourage him.
“I just try to play my game the best I can and look to my teammates,” he said. “I’m not much of a scorer. I’ve always looked to my teammates. In high school, I was pretty much the same way, and I averaged 16 points and eight rebounds.”
Like many of the Lions reserves, Floyd can make a big impact in a short amount of time. In his next-to-most recent start, Jan. 4 against Mississippi Valley State, Floyd scored all six of his points in the first four minutes to help UAPB dig out of an early 5-0 hole. UAPB went on to win 78-73.
“Jaylon has changed a whole lot in my opinion,” Ivory said. “He can play the 2- or 3-position for us. We look for good things from him. His role will change depending on where our needs are.”
So, Floyd’s not always used as the player who can give UAPB quick baskets, as his shooting percentage might otherwise indicate.
“When we recruited him, we were looking for someone to be that slasher and great athlete, someone who can jump out the gym and run the floor well for us,” Ivory said. “As far as his shooting percentage, he’s a guy that works hard. He’s the first-in-the-gym, last-one-out type of kid. Whatever it takes for team to do win.”
Floyd’s playing time may not change when UAPB begins SWAC tournament play Thursday night against Alabama A&M in Houston, but Ivory said his presence is still important in the wake of season-ending injuries to fellow juniors Marcel Mosley and DeAndre McIntyre. Floyd, meanwhile, can hardly wait to take the Toyota Center floor to help UAPB — which cannot play in the NCAA tournament even if it wins the SWAC — prove a point.
“We’re fired up,” Floyd said. “We’re ready to win. We’re ready to show everybody UAPB is the team you need to look out for. We want to show everybody we are the best team in the SWAC, even though we can’t get to the NCAA tournament.”
The Lions have practiced the past two days at the University of Houston, and Ivory said they’ve been two of the better sessions they’ve had all season.
“We’ve paid attention to detail, but we’re just being loose, having fun,” Ivory said. “That’s the most important thing, being loose. I think we’ve been 3-0 since we got the official word we were going to the tournament.”
Whether Floyd’s role will increase for his senior season remains to be seen, and Ivory said much of that will depend on whether Davon Haynes and Chandler Savage will be granted an extra year of eligibility.
“I just want to get better at my craft,” Floyd said. “I do want to play more minutes, but as long as we’re winning, I’m fine.”