By Arnie Leshin
The NCAA made it official Thursday, announcing the Division I Council had voted to approve a plan that will allow all college athletes to transfer one time as an undergraduate without having to sit out a season.
To break it down, I believe what’s going to happen as you see how often in a lot of leagues you know the good players go to a good team and the bad players leave good teams because they’re not playing. So is that going to make the rich get richer?
To Jimmy Boeheim, none of this matters. As a graduate student at Cornell University, 6-foot-8 forward Boeheim will return to the court next season — only this time it will be in Syracuse instead of Ithaca, home of the Ivy League school.. Boeheim sat out an entire season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so next season he will arrive at Syracuse as a graduate transfer — a move that will reunite him with his father, Jim Boeheim, the long-time head coach of the program, and his brother, Buddy, a current junior on the team.
And with all the transfers to occupy the headlines, this one grabs the early spotlight. It’s simply, can you top this?
“It’s full circle,” Jimmy says, “Let’s get to it.”
Says Buddy, “I’m a proud little bro.”
The prospect of joining the rest of his family has been a goal of Jimmy, and as the potential roster makeup of Syracuse next season solidified, his decision became clearer and clearer.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for me to be able to come home and play for my dad, with Buddy, and all the other guys on the team,” Boeheim said at a Cornell press conference. “This has been my entire life — more or less up to this point.”
He got off to a rocky start in his freshman year in upstate New York for the Big Red, only averaging 3.2 points per game while making 26 appearances.
“My freshman year was a trainwreck,” he says. “It did not go the way I wanted it to. Coach Earl and the staff continued to play me, believe in me and work with me. Then, sophomore year, I made another jump, and then in junior year, I made another jump and now I just feel I am ready for this.”
Boeheim exhibited tremendous growth over the past two seasons. In his sophomore year, he posted an average of 11.8 points with 3.4 rebounds per game before further bolstering his level of play the following campaign.
In what amounted to be his final season at Cornell, Boeheim excelled as the Big Red’s primary scoring threat. He averaged 16.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists. These statistics ranked him as a top-five scorer in the Ivy League as well as a top-10 rebounderin the conference.
“I think he’s improved in every aspect of the game,” says Cornell head coach Earl. “He’s gown a couple of inches since I first saw him, and there’s a work ethic there.– you put anything in front of him, from academics to athletics, and he attacks it.”
As a skilled 6-8 forward, Boeheim hopes to make an immediate impact in his final year of eligibility. While his role next year is not fully defined, he will work on his versatility to contribute to the Orange and possibly fill the void left by Marek Dolezaj, a 6-10 senior forward who averaged 9.8 points and 5.8 boards.
“I’m pretty versatile,” Boeheim says, “I can play inside, outside, the high post, and I can pass. I can try and do some of the things thatMarek did. He was such a great passer playing with Buddy, it will be a lot of fun. Whatever they need me to do at the end of the day to help them win, I’m ready f do it.”
Boeheim’s decision to transfer confirms that all four of the seniors on the Cornell men’s basketball team — Boeheim, Bryan Knapp, Terrance McBride and Riley Voss — will exercise their final year of eligibility at a different institution.
With 10 to 15 schools eyeing Boeheim, including Power Five schools such as Arkansas, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Oregon State, Earl recognized the low probability of retaining a player like Boeheim.
“I made it clear to him,” says Earl, “that we would want to have him back, and he knew that. But I’m also a realist, and it would have taken a lot of work in a lot of different areas for us to retain him.”
“Cornell was my only offer at the time,” he says. “and my dad told me. ‘call them back and take it’. So I have to thank Cornell, coach Earl, and the whole staff, I’m not here without Cornell, it gave me a great opportunity.”
Yes, a great opportunity to join his family at home and on the basketball court. His mom, Julie, is at each and every game, especially the home games in the Carrier Dome. The basketball court carries his father’s name as he nears his 47th season as head coach, and then there’s Buddy, who will grace the court with his bro as his dad calls the plays and carries on as he’s done for ages.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice writing a nice story that regards my alma mater where I ran track and cross country, and was a few years ahead of then-student, Jim Boeheim, who was a basketball team walk-on from the suburbs of Syracuse, one of the coldest, snowiest, blizzard areas in the land, and a campus in the winter months with probably more icy hills then any other school, and Jim playedbackcourt there with All-America Dave Bing, who is often referred to as the Orange’s all-time best player.