Jimmy Boeheim credits Cornell experience for success at Syracuse

Jimmy Boeheim averaged 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds in 78 career games over three seasons for Cornell. {Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Syracuse forward and former Cornell star Jimmy Boeheim has lit up the Atlantic Coast Conference in his first season in league action. He and his younger brother Buddy are the highest-scoring sibling duo in college basketball, averaging around 30 points per game for their father, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Boeheim, in his 46nd year at the helm.

Jimmy graduated from Cornell with a finance degree in the spring of 2021 after three years of Ivy hoops. Buddy was a 2020-21 first-team All-ACC preseason selection after averaging 17.8 points per game last season. This season, Buddy and Jimmy are scoring 18.8 and 13.4 points per game, respectively, ranking them both in the top 25 in the ACC.

Jimmy says that the transition from playing in the Ivy League to the ACC isn’t the big jump that people make it out to be.

“I haven’t seen it that way at all,” Jimmy said. “The Ivy League is an under-recognized league. There are great players and teams.”

Jimmy Boeheim is averaging 13.2 points and six rebounds per game for Syracuse this season. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Jimmy views the biggest difference is “athleticism and size” but added that that difference is really small in the big picture because “skill and talent wise, there is a ton in the Ivy League.”

Jimmy was one of those talented players.

His junior year at Cornell, he led the team in scoring (16.7 points points per game), rebounds (5.6 rebounds per game), and three-pointers (31). He ranked fifth in the Ivy League in points per game.

Cornell has rebounded well following Boeheim’s departure. The Big Red are 13-10, 5-7 Ivy, vying for a slot in the Ivy League Tournament.

Boeheim was one of coach Brian Earl’s first recruits at Cornell and has been following along with the team’s success this season.

“It’s been awesome,” Boeheim said. “Cornell is doing so well this year. Coach Earl has done a great job.”

Jimmy says Ivy hoops prepared him well for ACC competition, a level he wasn’t prepared to play at coming out of high school.

“But thanks to my teammates and coaches at Cornell, I got better,” Boeheim said. “They got me to the point where I could be ready for this jump in competition.”

Boeheim, who is applying for a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA, notes that it’s important for Ivy players entering the transfer portal to believe in themselves.

“[H]alf is mindset and believing you can play at this level,” Boeheim said. “As I always say, if you don’t believe in yourself, who is going to?”