August 20, 2022

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: Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim from Syracuse and Trey and Bryce McGowens from the University of Nebraska. (It was almost three: Keegan Murray is expected to be a top-five pick while his twin brother Kris opted to return to the University of Iowa earlier this month).

While it’s not unprecedented, “it’s pretty rare,” Roc Nation agent Drew Gross, who represents both the Boeheims and McGowens, told The Post. “It was cool to see how they rooted themselves.”

Twins Jason and Jarron Collins were both drafted in 2001. Brook and Robin Lopez were drafted to Stanford in 2008. And in 2011 twins Markieff and Marcus Morris were chosen back-to-back in the first round. But NBA glory isn’t 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 siblings have different projections, with the two younger siblings expected to have earlier looks. Here, they talk to The Post about sharing a special bond while chasing their NBA dreams.

The McGowens

Former Nebraska star Bryce McGowens, 19, was looking for more than a flashy style statement when he designed his draft look – he wanted to honor his big brother, Trey.

“I went with a light gray suit,” Bryce, 6-foot-7, told The Post. “There’s Trey’s jersey and my jersey sewn inside… Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am now. He taught me a lot along the way. »

Trey (standing) and his younger brother Bryce McGowens pose together at the University of Nebraska.
Alex Rehurek

The sartorial tribute is a sweet touch for South Carolina natives. “I don’t want to be too soft. I am happy. I keep it for a 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 within minutes of each other in Las Vegas, where they trained for most of the draft process.

“We talk every day. After every practice we call to see how that practice went,” said Trey, 6-foot-4.

Trey and his younger brother Bryce McGowens as young children.
Trey and his younger brother Bryce McGowens as young children.
Family photo

The couple hadn’t been on the same team since they were 5 and 8 years old. But over the past year, they’ve caught up. In 2020, Trey transferred from Pitt to the University of Nebraska and although he insists he didn’t sway his brother, Bryce followed suit.

“When I found out Bryce was coming to Nebraska, I was excited because we never got to play ball together in high school. And in the Big Ten, having someone around helped. A freshman doing as well as him, there might be some jealousy. Just to have someone who wants the best for him,” Trey said of his brother, who averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists last season.

Bobby and Pam McGowens played Division One ball.  Here they are pictured with their sons, Trey and Bryce and daughter Raina.
Bobby and Pam McGowens played Division One ball. Here they are pictured with their sons, Trey and Bryce and daughter Raina.
Family photo

The couple come from a sporty family. Their father Bobby played both football and basketball at South Carolina State while their mother Pam played varsity hoops. They decided to enter the draft separately and said their joint path was unintentional – but it was a bonus.

“Literally, everything continues to align perfectly. It’s crazy,” Trey said.

They didn’t work with any team together, but each organization asked the brothers for scouting reports on the other.

Trey McGowens with his younger brother Bryce McGowens as children.
Trey McGowens with his younger brother Bryce McGowens as children.
Family photo

“They asked who was the best player I’ve played with. It’s Bryce hands down. That was the easiest question I had during the entire drafting process,” said Trey, who describes his little brother as “nice. He’s a good guy.”

Bryce should be a late pick in the first round or early in the second round. Meanwhile, Trey, who Gross called “underrated,” has more to prove. He missed part of last season with a broken foot.

“When I got to the draft I knew I was going to have to work for my spot. I understand it takes time,” said Trey, who added that there will be no brotherly 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’s going to get what’s his.”

During the months-long drafting process, their family message feed, which has about 20 family members, lit up each morning with Bible verses and inspirational words from their grandparents. “Our family had ten toes behind us the whole time,” Bryce said, adding that they were “traveling in packs.”

With that in mind, the family will most likely rent a charter bus from South Carolina to New York. They will meet at the 40/40 club where they will hopefully celebrate at least one, hopefully two, NBA rookies.

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’ll bring it. I’m going to text them now.

The Boeheims

As children, Jimmy and Buddy Boeheim were notoriously competitive with each other. “It was probably more unhealthy than anything else,” Buddy, 22, told The Post. The sons of legendary Syracuse trainer Jim Boeheim said their combative behavior mostly happened in the family playroom where they fought on their Little Tikes hoop.

Jimmy (left) and Buddy Boeheim are chasing their NBA dreams together.
Jimmy (left) and Buddy Boeheim are chasing their NBA dreams together.
Stefano Giovannini

“We would play for hours every day and every time it would end in a fight,” Jimmy, 24, told The Post. “Someone was running crying to my mum and dad and they were trying to make rules where we weren’t allowed in [the room]. We were sneaking around and playing. My dad would try to officiate, then we would start yelling at him.

But they put their siblings’ battles behind them in a bid to turn pro, a process that included training together for the Knicks. Jimmy played at Cornell and had a graduate year at Syracuse last season, playing alongside his six-foot-six brother, who became known as “Buddy Buckets” after leading the Orangemen to the Sweet Sixteen in 2021.

Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim hold hands with their father, legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim hold hands with their father, legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Document of the Boeheim family

As for signing an agent, they admit they were a “package package” and went with Roc Nation’s Gross, a former Syracuse team manager. They moved into the Sky Building on West 42nd Street, where they share an apartment and learn to live outside the upstate Boeheim bubble.

The couple reunited last year in Syracuse and Buddy admits his mother Juli periodically made his bed and cleaned his room. “She was crying because of the dirt. I’ve gotten a little careless…I’m messy. He’s clean,” Buddy said of his 6-foot-8 sibling.

“I train him day after day. I asked him to put a dish in the dishwasher today. My mom would be impressed,” Jimmy said.

Turning to a post-college career is a surreal place for both. “I always thought about playing at Syracuse and that’s all I ever wanted. I didn’t even know I could play there. I was never a good player growing up,” said said Buddy.

Both men admitted they were laggards on the court, despite having lived, breathed and eaten Syracuse basketball. Between the Orangemen and their father’s Team USA coaching job, they were surrounded by their idols, some of whom they saw on team visits throughout the draft process.

Buddy (left) and Jimmy Boeheim as competitive toddlers.
Buddy (left) and Jimmy Boeheim as competitive toddlers.
Document of the Boeheim family

“I saw Melo a few weeks ago. He would text me before games and give me advice. It means a lot,” Buddy said, adding that he has met Dion Waiters, Michael Carter Williams, Clipper 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 I’ll be fine,” Buddy said of Iguodala. “Of course the circle is complete. They look up to you and encourage you and you looked up to them when you were kids. It’s really cool.”

Neither will be at Barclays for the draft. They will reunite with their friends and family in the Big Apple and wait to find out their fate in basketball.

“I don’t know what the process will be, but I have goals to play in the NBA and I want to be there. It’s about seizing the opportunity,” Buddy said, adding that he had no alternate plan, except to follow his father as coach in the not so near future.

Meanwhile, Jimmy, who earned a degree in finance, hopes he won’t have to use it. Even if that means he ends up in Europe.

“This process opened me up to front-office work. I’m more interested in that than in coaching,” he said.

And if the young Boeheim succeeds in the NBA, the elder said there will be no turning back from those fierce days in the arcade where every competition ended in tears.

“We want each other to go as far as possible,” Jimmy said. “I can play at the YMCA, and I [still] I want him to go as far as he can in the league.