It’s nearly impossible to imagine Buddy Boeheim playing anywhere else. It has always felt as though Jim was refusing to retire until his son could come play for him. Perhaps they ride off into the sunset together in two years, dad into retirement golf at Drumlins and son to the NBA, G-League or across seas. But it always felt like a package deal. Buddy wasn’t suiting up for anyone but Pops.
However, as Buddy becomes one of the biggest stories of the tournament, it’s worth looking back on his recruitment. Right now he’s one of the stars of March. CBS Sports named him to the All-First Weekend Team.
Boeheim has made more 3-pointers than anyone in the field thus far while keying an unlikely run to the Sweet 16 for No. 11 seed Syracuse. The junior guard is 13-of-23 from beyond the arc and has scored a total of 55 points. That prolific production is a reflection of how drastically Boeheim has improved during his college career after he went 0-for-6 from the field in 2019 during a first-round loss in his only prior NCAA Tournament experience.
Buddy’s Syracuse career has clearly not always been this smooth. While he took home honors at the ACC Tournament for his explosion against NC State and Virginia, it hasn’t always been this way. As a freshman he struggled to get playing time, averaging only 7 PPG in 17 MPG. Even this season he had five nights of single-digit scoring, all despite playing most of the game. SU went 2-3 in those games, with one of the wins was against Northeastern. Simply put, when Buddy didn’t show up the Orange usually lost. He had shooting nights of 1-12, 3-12, and 3-13 this season. Buddy mixed in some huge efforts like his 29-outburst against Notre Dame. But this is by far his best four-game stretch at any point in his career.
Plenty of schools should be kicking themselves today for never even offering Buddy a scholarship. ESPN considered him the 58th best shooting guard in his class, while 247 Sports placed him at 77th. He was barely in the top 10 players for the state of New Hampshire, not exactly a hot bed of high-major talent. He was rated as the 349th best player nationally. Talk about a diamond in the rough.
So the scouting services missed on him. How about the schools? Only Binghamton, UMass, Iona and Gonzaga even offered Buddy. Here’s an interesting nugget from Gary Parrish from July ’17.
Buddy Boeheim has, in recruiting circles, forever been known as little more than Jim Boeheim’s son — just a nice mid-major prospect most assumed would eventually walk-on and play for his father at Syracuse. And he still might. Probably will. But a funny thing happened last week: Buddy Boeheim was super impressive on a big stage.
At the prestigious Peach Jam he made five 3-pointers and got 18 points in an 81-47 blowout of a Team Penny squad that featured four top-40 national recruits. It earned him an offer from Gonzaga. Reportedly other major programs showed interest like NC State, Georgetown and Penn State, but most were scared off by the assumption Buddy would play for his dad.
“If I feel I’m good enough to play [at Syracuse], that’s definitely what I’m going to do.” – Buddy Boeheim in 2017
Buddy told Syracuse.com a month before Peach Jam he’d head to SU if he felt he could play. The Peach Jam locked that up. So most programs didn’t bother offering Buddy.
You can’t fully blame every other team in America for missing on Buddy. He wanted to play at SU, he’s worked his tail off to become the player he is, and he’s playing his best when it matters most. But if other coaches knew what he would become (maybe the most dominant player in March) you can be sure they would’ve tried harder to pry him away from SU.