After sitting out an entire season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, men’s basketball forward Jimmy Boeheim will return to the court next season — only this time it will be in Syracuse instead of East Hill.
Next season, Boeheim will arrive at Syracuse as a graduate transfer — a move that will reunite him with his father, Jim Boeheim, the head coach of the Orange, and his brother Buddy Boeheim, a current junior on the team.
The prospect of joining the rest of his family has been a goal of Boeheim’s, 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 great guys on the team,” Boeheim said at a Cornell press conference. “That has been my whole life — more or less up to this point.”
Boeheim got off to a rocky start in his freshman year for the Red, only averaging 3.2 points per game across 26 appearances.
“My freshman year was a trainwreck — it did not go the way I wanted it to,” Boeheim said. “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 like I am ready for this.”
Boeheim exhibited tremendous growth over the past two seasons. In his sophomore campaign, the forward posted 11.8 points with 3.4 rebounds per contest before further bolstering his level of play the following season.
In what amounted to be his final season at Cornell, Boeheim excelled as the Red’s primary scoring threat. The junior averaged 16.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Those statistics ranked him as a top-five scorer in the Ivy League as well as a top-10 rebounder in the conference.
“I think he’s improved in every aspect of the game,” said head coach Brian Earl at the press conference. “He’s grown a couple 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-foot-8 forward, Boeheim hopes to make an immediate impact in his final year of eligibility. While his role next season is not fully defined, Boeheim will rely on his versatility to contribute for the Orange and possibly fill the void left by Marek Dolezaj, a senior who averaged 9.8 points and 5.8 boards per game as a 6-foot-10 forward.
“I’m pretty versatile — I can play inside, outside, the high post and I can pass,” Boeheim said. “I can kind of try to do some of the things that [Marek] did. He was such a great passer playing with Buddy and other shoots — 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 to do it.”
Boeheim’s decision to transfer confirms that all four of the seniors on the men’s basketball team — Boeheim, Bryan Knapp, Terrance McBride and Riley Voss — will exercise their final year of eligibility at a different institution.
With 10-15 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 Jim that we would want to have him back, and he knew that,” Earl said. “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.”
Nonetheless, Boeheim remains grateful for his time at Cornell.
“Cornell was my only offer at the time, and my dad told me, ‘call them back and take it,’” Boeheim said. “I have to thank Cornell, coach Earl, and the whole staff … I’m not here without Cornell — it gave me an opportunity.”