Mike Hopkins’ decision to leave the comfort of Syracuse for his first head coaching job at Washington last year ultimately led to Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim coaching his son Buddy.
“It enabled me to coach my son,’’ said Boeheim on the NCAA.com podcast March Madness 365. “It couldn’t have worked out better for me.’’
Hopkins was the head coach in waiting at Syracuse and had he stayed, he could have seized the head role. But Hopkins’ departure meant Boeheim was staying, and there’s no indication he’s going to leave before Buddy Boeheim’s career is over.
“It worked out great for both of us,’’ Boeheim said of him staying and Hopkins coaching at Washington.
The 6-5 Buddy Boeheim is part of a three-player recruiting class (6-3 Jalen Carey and 6-9 Robert Braswell) as well as a transfer in Elijah Hughes (East Carolina) who are all expected to have an impact on the Orange. Hughes averaged 7.8 points and 2.3 boards at ECU as a freshman.
“We do expect to have a better team,’’ said Boeheim of the Orange, who reached the Sweet 16 before losing to Duke in Omaha. “Elijah Hughes was a very good player at East Carolina. He’s a proven player who played well in college. We think he can really help us. Guard Jalen Carey is one of the better offensive scorers and he will definitely help us. And there’s a guy named Boeheim who can really shoot. We’ve added some really good pieces.’’
Boeheim said he saw that his son could be a player at the Syracuse high-major level between his junior and senior seasons. He said his proficient 3-point shooting and size were the indicators that he could make the transition.
“[Buddy’s] smart and he knows when to pass and when to shoot,’’ said Boeheim. “He started watching tape with me when he was in the second game. He was the only one in the family that would watch tape with me. He always had a desire to be a Division I player and play here at Syracuse. I think he will contribute to our team this year.’’
Syracuse finished 8-10 in the ACC, 23-14 overall last season.
“The finish can be a little deceptive,’’ said Boeheim. “We weren’t great last year. We were really good in the tournament. We had young players who got better at the end. It wasn’t a fluke. We beat good teams. That team is returning. We’re not returning the team from the middle of the year…..We have really added good offensive players. We do expect to be a better team.’’
The Orange return their starting five, including Tyus Battle who flirted with the NBA draft.