When the NBA Draft kicks off Thursday night at Barclays Center, it could be a sibling showdown.
Among this year’s class of aspiring professionals are two sets of brothers: Syracuse’s Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim and Trey and Bryce McGowens of the University of Nebraska. (It was nearly 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 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 them chasing each other.”
Twins Jason and Jarron Collins were both drafted in 2001. Brook and Robin Lopez were selected from 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 unwritten and played abroad.
Likewise, the McGowens and Boeheim brothers have different projections, with both younger siblings expected to watch sooner. Here they talk to The Post about sharing a special bond as they pursue their NBA dreams.
Former Nebraska star Bryce McGowens, 19, was looking for more than a flashy style statement when he created his designer look — he wanted to honor his big brother, Trey.
“I went with a light gray suit,” the six-foot-tall Bryce told The Post. “It stitched Trey’s jersey and my jersey on the inside… Without him I wouldn’t be on the podium where I am today. He taught me a lot along the way.”
The sartorial tribute is a sweet touch to the people of South Carolina. “I don’t want to be too soft. I’m happy. I’m kinda keeping up with it,” Trey, 22, told The Post. “It’s very exciting, because we really did it together.”
Now the siblings are competing for a spot on an NBA roster. They signed to the same agent and lived minutes apart in Las Vegas, where they trained most of the design process.
“We talk every day. After every training session, we call each other to see how that training went,” said Trey.
The couple hadn’t been on the same team since they were 5 and 8 years old. But in the past year they have made up for it. In 2020, Trey transferred from Pitt to the University of Nebraska and while he insists he didn’t influence his brother, Bryce followed suit.
“When I found out that Bryce was coming to Nebraska, I was excited because we could never play in high school together. And in the Big Ten, having someone in your corner helped. A freshman who does as well as he does can be jealous. 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.
The couple comes 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 introduce the concept separately, saying their shared path wasn’t through design – but it was a bonus.
“Literally everything stays perfectly in line. It’s crazy,” Trey said.
They didn’t work with teams, but each organization has asked the brothers for scouting reports on the other.
“They asked who is the best player I’ve played with. It’s without a doubt Bryce. That was the easiest question I got during the whole design process,” said Trey, who describes his little brother as “sweet. He’s a good one.” dude.”
Bryce is expected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick. Meanwhile, Trey, whom Gross called “undervalued,” has more to prove. He missed part of last season with a broken foot.
“When I got into the draft I knew I had to work for my spot. I understand it takes time,” Trey said, adding that there will be no jealousy if he hears his brother’s name called out.
Bryce echoed the sentiment: “We knew we’d have two different paths, but he’s going to get what’s his.”
During the months-long design process, their family message, which is about 20 family members deep, would light up each morning with Bible verses and inspirational words from their grandparents. “Our family has had ten toes behind us the whole time,” Bryce said, adding that they “travel in a pack.”
In that vein, the family will most likely rent a charter bus from South Carolina to New York City. They come together in the 40/40 club where they will hopefully celebrate at least one, hopefully two, NBA newbies.
But instead of looking forward to a champagne bath, Bryce hopes 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.”
As kids, Jimmy and Buddy Boeheim were notoriously competitive with each other. “It was probably unhealthier than anything,” Buddy, 22, told The Post. The sons of legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said their combative behavior was mostly centered on the family’s playroom, where they battle it out on their Little Tikes hoop.
“We played for hours every day and every time it ended in a fight,” Jimmy, 24, told The Post. “Someone would run to my mom and dad crying and they’d try to make rules we weren’t allowed in [the room]† We would sneak in and play. My father would try to officiate, and then we would start yelling at him.”
But they’ve left the fighting between their siblings behind as their goal to turn pro, a process that required them to train together for the Knicks. Jimmy played at Cornell and graduated from Syracuse last season along with his six-foot-tall sharpshooter 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 admitted they were a “package deal” and went with Roc Nation’s Gross, a former Syracuse team manager. They moved to the Sky Building on West 42nd Street, where they share an apartment and learn to live outside the upstate Boeheim bubble.
The couple piled up together in Syracuse last year, and Buddy admits that his mother Juli regularly made his bed and cleaned up his room. “She would cry because of how dirty it was. I got a little careless… I’m sloppy. He’s clean,’ said Buddy of his six-foot-tall brother.
“I train him day by day. I had him put a dish in the dishwasher today. My mom would be impressed,” Jimmy said.
Looking for a career after college is a surreal place for both of them. “I’ve always thought of 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 Buddy.
The pair both acknowledged that they were late bloomers on the field, though they lived, breathed and ate Syracuse basketball. Between the Orangemen and their father’s Team USA coaching stint, they were surrounded by their idols, some of whom they’ve seen visiting teams during the design process.
“I saw melo a few weeks ago. He would text me before the matches and give me advice. That means a lot,” said Buddy, adding that he has checked in with former Cuse champions 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 would be fine,” Buddy said of Iguodala. “The circle is certainly complete. They look at you and keep their fingers crossed and you looked up to them as children. It’s pretty cool.”
Neither will be with Barclays for the draft. They will gather with friends and family in the Big Apple and wait to get to know their basketball lot.
“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 taking the opportunity,” said Buddy, adding that he doesn’t have a backup plan. except to coach his father in the not so near future.
Meanwhile, Jimmy, who has a finance degree, hopes he won’t have to use it. Even if that means he ends up in Europe.
“This process has opened me up to front office work. I’m more interested in that than coaching,” he said.
And if the younger Boeheim makes it in the NBA, the elder said there will be no looking back on those fierce days in the game room where every league ended in tears.
“We want each other to go as far as we can,” said Jimmy. “I can play at the YMCA, and I [still] wants him to get as far as possible in the competition.”