The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the case for Syracuse Orange basketball freshman Jack “Buddy” Boeheim. After growing up in Syracuse and spending his childhood around the Syracuse basketball program, Buddy has embarked on a new yet familiar journey. He’s now officially a member of the Syracuse basketball team. He’s on scholarship and officially playing for his dad, Jim Boeheim. But as far as Buddy is concerned, nothing has really changed.
“It honestly feels the same, it feels right,” He said at media day. “It feels like I’ve always belonged here and just looking down and seeing the ‘Syracuse’ on your chest, playing in this uniform is a dream come true.”
To dream and to finally achieve something such as this is worthy of celebration in its own right. You couldn’t write a better script, but now comes the hard part of playing in front of raucous crowds, competing against some of the top players in the country and against some of most brilliant basketball minds in the coaching profession. This all occurs under the public eye — and sometimes scrutiny — which comes along with playing at a big time program like Syracuse.
But for Buddy there’s an added caveat of playing for his father, a Hall of Fame basketball coach who built Syracuse basketball. How does one approach and compartmentalize that as a player when your head coach is your own kin?
It’s “definitely coach-player on the court, nothing special. Off the court, father-son,” He says.
Jim would add a similar sentiment at both media days, the first being at Melo and the second down in Charlotte last week. There will be no special treatment just because he’s the coach’s son. Buddy will have to earn his spot.
“You know once he got here, he has been treated just like any of the other players on the team. He has to do what everybody does, he has to perform like everybody does, and if he can help us, he is going to play,” the elder Boeheim said before the Orange vs. White scrimmage.
“He’s a good player. He’s worked hard. He’s fun to coach because he works at the game. He loves to play. He always has. There’s obviously some challenges. You want to see your son do well. But my job’s to win games. And we’re going to play the guys that are going to help us win the games. If he can do that, that would be great. I’d be happy. And I think his mother would be a lot happier,” Boeheim said at ACC Media Day.
It’s not all business, but when the Boeheims go home Buddy says that he and his dad will still talk about basketball — they always have. Often times they’ll talk about the NBA. The two of them have a close relationship and basketball serves as an integral component.
This goes deeper than basketball though. Given the dynamic of the relationship, you can bet your bottom dollar that this means a lot to Buddy. He wants to play well more than anyone. His sights are set and he wants to win at the highest level starting this year.
“Personally I just want to be the best player I can be. If I’m not shooting well I want to make plays on the defensive end, make plays for my team and be the best player for the team to win,” He said. “I want to make it to the Final Four this year, I think this team has a chance for that, it’s a special group of guys.”
With Syracuse’s three point guards sidelined with injuries, Buddy started in the the team’s opening exhibition game. He finished the game with 19 points on 3-of-7 shooting from three. He’ll be wearing No. 35 this season too, a nod to his dad who donned the same number when he was a player at Syracuse.
“It’s something I want to wear because I wouldn’t be here without him,” Buddy said.