SYRACUSE — Jimmy Boeheim isn’t always quick to agree with his dad, but he has instantly learned to fall in line when it comes to his new head coach.
The graduate senior has carved out a starting role for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team after transferring in to play the upcoming season under his father and Hall of Fame coach, Jim Boeheim, and alongside his brother, Buddy Boeheim.
Jimmy Boeheim will make his regular-season debut for the Orange in the nonconference opener against the Lafayette Leopards at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Carrier Dome.
The 6-foot-8 and 225-pound forward previously played at Cornell but sat out last year when the Ivy League opted not to conduct a season due to COVID-19 concerns. He announced plans to join SU via the transfer portal in April.
“It’s been awesome, it’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment, but it’s been great,” Jimmy Boeheim said of playing for the first time under his dad, who is entering his 46th season as SU head coach.
“He’s been coaching me in a less official role obviously my whole life, but to have him there on the sideline now is great,” he added. “Any time he talks to me or yells at me or whatever it is, I’m eager to listen and eager to learn. He’s been giving me little things that have helped me a lot already and I’m sure that will continue into the season.”
Those closest to the duo — including Buddy and their mom, Juli — have described Jim and Jimmy Boeheim as having similar personalities, frequently leading to debates on a multitude of topics at home, basketball often at the forefront.
Buddy Boeheim said that he is always entertained by the good-natured arguments between his dad and brother but doesn’t anticipate them leaking onto the SU court.
“I’ll just listen to him, but my brother challenges my dad more than anyone in a good way,” Buddy Boeheim said. “Whether it’s at home having a conversation about who’s better between LeBron and Jordan or whatever it is, they go at it a little. But (Jimmy) obviously understands how great of a coach he is.”
Syracuse point guard Joe Girard III has watched the differing father-son dynamics play out since playing AAU with Buddy Boeheim as a teenager.
“You can see that the difference with Jimmy and Buddy, is that Jimmy and coach might bicker about it a little more,” Girard III said. “They’re kind of similar in that they’re both really competitive — don’t get me wrong, Buddy is very competitive, too — but Jimmy is going to think he’s right and coach is going to think he’s right, but ultimately, coach is going to be right.”
Jimmy Boeheim is also reveling in the role reversal between him and Buddy since the duo last played together at Jamesville-DeWitt in 2015-16.
The brothers have long talked of their childhood 1-on-1 battles officiated by Jim Boeheim, often ending with Buddy in tears because Jimmy never allowed his little brother to win.
But Jimmy is now in the position of learning from Buddy — the entrenched senior leader — as one of the incoming transfer additions, stating that he is “not too proud,” to take advice from the star shooting guard.
“He’s an awesome guy to play with because he can get you a lot of assists, I can always try to find him and he’ll make a shot and draw defensive attention and things like that, but it’s even cooler from the standpoint that we’re brothers playing,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “It’s been awesome to spend that extra time with him the same way and just bonding even more, it’s been great.”
Jimmy Boeheim averaged 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists as a junior starter at Cornell in the 2019-20 season, memorably pouring in 25 against SU in the Carrier Dome in what had been dubbed the “Battle of the Boeheims,” in November 2019.
He now has the chance to make such performances a regular occurrence as opposed to an annual one-night highlight in the Dome.
“Jimmy has become a really good player,” coach Boeheim said. “He wasn’t recruited much in high school, kind of found a place at Cornell and really played well and got better every year there, and he can play anywhere.”
Jimmy Boeheim is one of three incoming transfers set to play a significant role in the traditionally tight SU rotation.
Here is a deeper look at the revamped squad for the upcoming season.
SYRACUSE MEN’S BASKETBALL BY POSITION
Buddy Boeheim will lead an experienced if unfamiliar unit that appears poised to bring Syracuse back into NCAA Tournament contention.
The senior shooting guard was recently one of 20 players named to the NABC Player of the Year Preseason Watch List and is a Preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team selection after breaking out to carry the Orange to the NCAA Sweet 16 last year.
He will be surrounded by a mostly new cast, but SU still sports a veteran roster turned over by the NCAA transfer portal that is built to thrive on ball movement and 3-point shooting.
Buddy Boeheim returns for his third year in the starting lineup after averaging a team-best 17.8 points and connecting on 77 total 3-pointers last season. He averaged 25 points and made 25 of 52 from behind the arc across five games combined in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
Boeheim will be joined again by Girard III as the returning starting point guard. The Glens Falls native aims to bounce back from a sophomore season in which he shot 35.5 percent from the field. He tallied averages of 13.5 points and 7.5 assists in two exhibition games and provides another 3-point threat after connecting on 50 last year.
Symir Torrence — a Syracuse native and junior transfer from Marquette — will be the third guard in the rotation. Torrence appeared in all but three games across two seasons for the Golden Eagles and should step in as a tempo-pusher and facilitator to play key minutes in the SU backcourt.
Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim will start at forward and each brings veteran savvy and long-range shooting ability to the lineup via transfer.
Swider — the 6-foot-9, 220-pound senior transfer from Villanova — averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 makes from deep in SU’s pair of exhibition victories and figures to be the second preferred scoring option on most nights. SU coach Jim Boeheim called Swider the best shooting forward on the SU roster since Preston Shumpert (2002).
Jimmy Boeheim (6-foot-8, 225 pounds) can provide scoring and rebounding in his first season after transferring from Cornell. He averaged 15 points and six rebounds on better than 50 percent shooting in SU’s two preseason outings.
Five-star Benny Williams, the 6-foot-8 and 208-pound native of Bowie Md., is the only true freshman on the SU roster and should provide a lift as the first forward off the bench.
Junior Jesse Edwards will start at center with returning senior Bourama Sidibe expected to be sidelined for at least the first month of the season.
Edwards, the 6-foot-11 and 230-pound prospect from Amsterdam, Netherlands, has flashed his ability in the middle of SU’s 2-3 zone in short spurts the last two seasons but is now needed to anchor the SU defense. Edwards tallied 10 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game as the starter in SU’s two-game preseason.
Sophomore Frank Anselem (6-foot-10, 215 pounds) will back up Edwards and contend for minutes long-term in the middle for SU.
Jim Boeheim referred to both developing centers as “light years ahead of last year.”
SU BASKETBALL sCHEDULE
Tuesday: vs Lafayette, 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 vs Drexel, 5 p.m.
Nov. 20: vs Colgate, TBD
Nov. 24: vs VCU, 5 p.m., Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Nov. 25: Battle 4 Atlantis TBD
Nov. 26: Battle 4 Atlantis TBD
Nov. 30: vs Indiana, 7/7:30 p.m.,
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Dec. 4: at Florida State 4 p.m.*
Dec. 7: vs Villanova, 9:30 p.m., Jimmy V Classic (at MSG)
Dec. 11: at Georgetown, noon
Dec. 18: vs Lehigh, 6 p.m.
Dec. 21: vs Cornell. 9 p.m.
Dec. 29: vs Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.*
Jan. 1: vs Virginia, 8 p.m.*
Jan. 5: at Miami (Fla.), 8 p.m.*
Jan. 8: at Wake Forest, 2 p.m.*
Jan. 11: vs Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.*
Jan. 15: vs Florida State, 4/4:30 p.m.*
Jan. 18: vs Clemson, 9 p.m.*
Jan. 22: at Duke, noon*
Jan. 25: at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m.*
Jan. 29: vs Wake Forest, 8 p.m.*
Feb. 2: at North Carolina St., 9 p.m.*
Feb. 5: vs Louisville, 2 p.m.*
Feb. 8: at Boston College, 8 p.m.*
Feb. 12: at Virginia Tech, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 19: vs Boston College, noon*
Feb. 22: at Notre Dame, 9 p.m.*
Feb. 26: vs Duke, 6 p.m.*
Feb. 28: at North Carolina, 7 p.m.*
March 5: vs Miami (Fla.), TBD*
All home games at Carrier Dome