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.
The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 13.5 points and shot 55.9 percent from 3-point range while helping his team (City Rocks New York) advance to the quarterfinals of the prestigious Nike Peach Jam. He, most impressively, 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.
And now this:
Yes, Gonzaga's Mark Few is actively recruiting Jim Boeheim's son. And, suddenly, this is one of the nation's most fascinating recruiting stories.
"Buddy has proven that he has an elite skill set that translates to any level of college basketball," said City Rocks New York coach Jim Hart. "He led the EYBL in 3-point percentage and repeated that at Peach Jam. Our team was 11-1 with him during the EYBL season and 0-4 without him. He has been nothing short of fantastic for us."
All of which is true.
I watched Buddy Boeheim multiple times last week -- including his 18-point performance against Team Penny -- and, to me, he looked very much like a legitimate high-major prospect. And multiple high-major staffs seem to agree. Because in addition to Gonzaga offering, Hart said he's had conversations over the past few days with coaches from North Carolina State, Georgetown, Penn State, Northwestern and George Washington.
"Most are convinced he's heading to Syracuse," Hart said. "[So] they are not sure if they should even try to recruit him."
And that, as they say, is the rub. Is it even worth recruiting a high-major coach's son when the son appears to be a high-major prospect? A year ago, I would've said absolutely not. But I just watched North Carolina's Roy Williams successfully recruit Garrison Brooks even though his father, George Brooks, is on the Mississippi State staff. So who knows?
Either way, my prediction is this: Yes, it'll probably be a waste of time.
"If I feel I'm good enough to play [at Syracuse], that's definitely what I'm going to do," Buddy Boeheim told Syracuse.com just last month. And now it seems obvious that he is indeed good enough. So that should be game, set and match.
But longtime Syracuse writer Mike Waters told me Thursday that Jim and Juli Boeheim have made it clear they want their son to be recruited and enjoy the process like other prospective student-athletes. So staffs are at least getting a feel for the situation and trying to determine if they can convince the lights-out shooter to seriously consider schools other than Syracuse.
"If you're trying to beat Jim Boeheim for his son, I think, the only way you can maybe even have a chance is to make him understand that playing for your dad isn't always easy," one high-major assistant answered. "It doesn't always go the way it went for Doug McDermott. Remember how bad it was for Noodles' kid?"
"Noodles," for those unfamiliar, is former New Mexico coach Craig Neal. His son, Cullen Neal, spent three years playing at New Mexico Meanwhile, things weren't always easy for Bryce Alford playing for Steve Alford at UCLA either. So, I agree, that's certainly something Buddy Boeheim should consider -- that if you struggle while playing for your father, and your father keeps you on the court, fans will start to scream all sorts of things, none of them nice.
That said, how do you pass on the chance to play for a Hall of Fame coach who doubles as your dad? And how do you pass on the chance to play for the only school you've ever loved -- especially when you appear good enough to actually contribute?
Answer: You probably don't.
So, absolutely, I fully expect Buddy Boeheim to be sinking jumpers at Syracuse for four years. But I'm still interested to watch other schools try to get involved and do their best to convince the son of an iconic coach to leave home. Again, it'll likely result in wasted time. But that doesn't mean this isn't a neat and unique recruiting story worth following.