Syracuse Basketball: Buddy Boeheim is playing at an All-American level

Syracuse basketball junior Buddy Boeheim came to the Hill a couple of years ago with the added – and unfair – pressure of being the son of the team’s head coach.

Boeheim, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, wasn’t a highly rated recruit as he competed for the powerhouse Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., immediately prior to joining the Orange.

Some ‘Cuse fans, upon his arrival and even more recently, have felt that Boeheim is primarily a 3-point specialist who gets more minutes than he should, because his dad is Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim.

I respect my fellow Orange fanatics’ opinions, however, I also believe that this line of thinking is flawed. Buddy Boeheim, as a sophomore in the 2019-20 term, led the Atlantic Coast Conference in 3-point shooting percentage and 3-point field-goals made per game.

During the 2020-21 stanza, he’s missed a few games and did, unfortunately, test positive for Covid-19 earlier in the season. He has proven a tad inconsistent on occasion, which is understandable given his coronavirus infection and the fact that Boeheim has lost out on a lot of practice time (so, too, have his teammates due to several pauses).

However, Boeheim is doing nothing of late other than compete at an All-ACC and an All-American clip. He’s been playing out of his mind, in a good way, as he presently leads the ‘Cuse in scoring.

And, yes, those 3-point shots are falling, but Boeheim is also thriving with his mid-range jumper, he’s driving to the hoop, he’s getting to the charity stripe, and he’s continuing to improve on defense.

Syracuse basketball guard Buddy Boeheim has found quite the groove.

Full disclosure, I’m a big fan of Boeheim. He works his tail off. He loves the game. He always credits his teammates rather than focusing on personal glory. And Boeheim, when games are going on, almost always seems to be smiling.

I say almost always, because Boeheim and his teammates obviously weren’t smiling when No. 1 seed Virginia hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Thursday afternoon to escape the No. 8 seed ‘Cuse, 72-69, in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal match-up from Greensboro, N.C.

Now the Orange must wait out the next few days to see if its name gets called on Selection Sunday for the 2021 Big Dance. Syracuse basketball (16-9) is hovering right around the cutline for the field of 68, at least for the time being, and if ‘Cuse earns an invite, Boeheim will be a huge reason why.

Against the Cavaliers and their stingy defense, Boeheim torched UVA for a career-high 31 points. On Wednesday afternoon in the ACC Tournament’s second round, Syracuse basketball crushed a red-hot N.C. State, buoyed by Boeheim’s 27 points.

Not too long ago, after losing consecutive road encounters to Duke and Georgia Tech, the Orange’s March Madness chances looked bleak, at best.

But Boeheim’s 26 points helped propel Syracuse basketball to a massive two-point victory over North Carolina at the Carrier Dome, and that result kick-started this recent successful stretch by the ‘Cuse which has landed the Orange back in the NCAA Tournament picture.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Boeheim tallied 29 points last month as Syracuse basketball clawed back from a 20-point deficit in the second half to stun Notre Dame in Central New York.

These are just several examples of how Boeheim is playing of late. You get the idea. His father, Jim Boeheim, said in his post-game Zoom call with media members after the setback to Virginia that he was “really proud” of his son.

The elder Boeheim described the younger Boeheim’s performance as “absolutely phenomenal,” “incredible,” and “tremendous.” I couldn’t agree more with Jim Boeheim.

Syracuse basketball sophomore forward Quincy Guerrier, in his own virtual call with reporters, said that Buddy Boeheim is “playing his best basketball right now.” Guerrier is spot on, too.

Sure, Boeheim will always be the son of the legendary Jim Boeheim. However, Buddy Boeheim is doing an excellent job of crafting his own legacy for the Orange program.