When the NBA Draft kicks off at Barclays Center on Thursday night, it could be a sibling showdown.
Among this year’s class of aspiring pros are two sets of brothers: Syracuse’s Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim and Trey and Bryce McGowens from the University of Nebraska. (It was nearly three: Keegan Murray is projected to be a top five pick while his twin brother Kris opted to return to the University of Iowa earlier this month).
While not unprecedented, “It’s pretty rare,” Roc Nation agent Drew Gross, who is representing both the Boeheims and the McGowens, told The Post. “It’s been cool to see how they root each other on.”
Twins Jason and Jarron Collins were both drafted in 2001. Brook and Robin Lopez were selected out of Stanford in 2008. And in 2011, twins Markieff and Marcus Morris were chosen back to back in the first round. But NBA glory is not a slam dunk. There’s Andrew Wiggins, who was the first overall pick in 2014 while his brother Nick went undrafted and played overseas.
Likewise, the McGowens and Boeheim brothers have different projections, with both younger siblings expected to get earlier looks. Here, they talk to The Post about sharing a special bond while chasing their NBA dreams.
Former Nebraska star Bryce McGowens, 19, was after more than a flashy style statement when he crafted his draft look – he wanted to honor his big brother, Trey.
“I went with a light gray suit,” the 6-foot-7 Bryce told The Post. “It has Trey’s jersey and my jersey stitched on the inside… Without him, I wouldn’t be at the stage I am now. He taught me a lot along the way. ”
The sartorial tribute is a sweet touch for the South Carolina natives. “I don’t want to be too soft. I am happy. I keep it in a little bit, ”Trey, 22, told The Post. “It’s extremely exciting because we really did it together.”
Now, the siblings are vying for a spot on an NBA roster. They signed with the same agent and lived minutes apart from each other in Las Vegas, where they trained throughout most of the draft process.
“We talk each day. After every workout we call each other to see how that workout went, ”said the 6-foot-4 Trey.
The pair hadn’t been on the same team since they were ages 5 and 8. But over the last year, they’ve made up for it. In 2020, Trey transferred from Pitt to the University of Nebraska and though he insists he didn’t influence his brother, Bryce followed.
“When I found out Bryce was coming to Nebraska, I was excited because we never got to play high school balls together. And in the Big Ten, having someone in your corner, it helped. A freshmen doing as well as he was doing, there could be some jealousy. Just to have someone who wants the best for him, ”said Trey of his brother, who averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season.
The pair come from an athletic family. Their father Bobby played both football and basketball at South Carolina State while their mother Pam played college hoops. They decided to enter the draft separately and said their shared path hasn’t been by design – but it’s been a bonus.
“Literally everything keeps lining up perfectly. It’s crazy, ”said Trey.
They didn’t work out with any teams together but every organization has asked the brothers for scouting reports on the other.
“They asked who is the best player I’ve played with. It’s Bryce hands down. That was the easiest question I got during the whole drafting process, ”said Trey, who describes his little brother as“ sweet. He’s a good dude. ”
Bryce is projected to be either a late first-rounder or early second-round pick. Meanwhile, Trey, whom Gross called “underrated,” has more to prove. He missed part of last season with a broken foot.
“When I came into the draft, I knew I was going to have to work for my spot. I understand it takes time, ”said Trey, who added there will be no sibling jealousy if he hears his brother’s name called.
Bryce echoed the sentiment: “We knew we were going to have two different paths, but he is going to get what is his.”
During the months-long draft process, their family message thread, which is about 20 relatives deep, would light up every morning with bible verses and inspirational words from their grandparents. “Our family has had ten toes behind us all the way,” said Bryce, adding that they “travel in a pack.”
In that spirit, the family will most likely be renting a charter bus from South Carolina to New York City. They’ll gather at the 40/40 club where they’ll hopefully be celebrating at least one, hopefully two, NBA newbies.
But instead of looking forward to a champagne bath, Bryce is hoping for a more comforting treat.
“My Aunt Stacey and Uncle Maurice make the best cookie pudding,” he said. “Hopefully they are going to bring it. I’m going to text them now. ”
As kids, Jimmy and Buddy Boeheim were notoriously competitive with each other. “It was probably more unhealthy than anything,” Buddy, 22, told The Post. The sons of legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said their combative behavior mostly played out in the family playroom where they’d battle it out on their Little Tikes hoop.
“We’d play for every single day for hours and every single time it ended in a fight,” Jimmy, 24, told The Post. “Someone would run out crying to my Mom and Dad and they’d try to make rules where we weren’t allowed in [the room]. We’d sneak in and play. My dad would try to officiate, and then we’d start yelling at him. ”
But they’ve put their siblings battles behind them as their aim to go pro, a process that has included working out for the Knicks together. Jimmy played at Cornell and did a grad year at Syracuse last season, playing alongside his sharp-shooting six-foot-six brother, who became known as “Buddy Buckets” after leading the Orangemen to the Sweet Sixteen in 2021.
When it came to signing an agent, they admit they were a “package deal” and went with Roc Nation’s Gross, a former Syracuse team manager. They moved into the Sky building on West 42nd Street, where they’re sharing an apartment and learning to live outside of the upstate Boeheim bubble.
The pair bunked together last year at Syracuse and Buddy admits his mother Juli would periodically make his bed and clean his room. “She would cry because of how dirty it was. I got a little careless… I’m messy. He’s clean, ”Buddy said of his 6-foot-8 brother.
“I’m training him day by day. I got him to put a dish in the dishwasher today. My mom would be impressed, ”Jimmy said.
Looking towards a post-college hoops career is a surreal spot for both of them. “I just always thought about playing at Syracuse and that’s all I ever wanted. I didn’t even know I’d be able to play there. I was never a good player growing up, ”said Buddy.
The pair both acknowledged they were late bloomers on the court, though they lived, breathed and ate Syracuse basketball. Between the Orangemen and their team Team USA coaching stint, they were surrounded by their idols, some of whom they’ve seen while visiting teams throughout the draft process.
“I saw Melo a few weeks ago. He would text me before games and give me advice. That means a lot, ”said Buddy, adding that he checked in with former Cuse standouts Dion Waiters, Michael Carter Williams, Clipper’s assistant Wes Johnson, and former Team USA and current Warriors star, Andre Iguodala.
“He gave me a hug and told me to do my thing and everything will work out,” Buddy said of Iguodala. “It’s come full circle for sure. They are watching you and root for you and you looked up to them as kids. It’s pretty cool. ”
Neither will be at Barclays for the draft. They will gather with friends and family in the Big Apple and wait to learn their basketball fate.
“I don’t know what the process will be but I have goals to play in the NBA and want to be there. It’s about taking advantage of the opportunity, ”said Buddy, adding that he has no backup plan, except to follow his father into coaching in the not-so-near future.
Meanwhile, Jimmy, who earned a finance degree, hopes he doesn’t have to use it. Even if it means he ends up in Europe.
“This process has opened me up to front-office work. I am more interested in that than coaching, ”he said.
And if the younger Boeheim makes it in the NBA, the elder said there won’t be a rewind of those fierce days in the play room where every competition ended in tears.
“We want each other to go as far as we can,” Jimmy said. “I can be playing at the YMCA, and I [still] want him to make it as far as he can in the league. ”