Regular readers will know this, but for the uninitiated, I am a Kansas fan because of Jeff Boschee. Like Boschee, I grew up in North Dakota (200 or so miles from Boschee’s hometown of Valley City), and while our state has produced its fair share of entertainers (the most famous one these days is probably Josh Duhamel) and even people in other athletic walks of life (WWE champ Brock Lesnar and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri both went to junior college in my hometown), it was wild when Boschee became a McDonalds All-American (fun fact, the game is still on YouTube) and committed to a school like Kansas.
I was in 5th grade when Boschee started playing for Kansas. I was a basketball fan, but in the late 90s it was tough to follow college basketball from afar. Because of that, I didn’t really have a team, NBA or college. I didn’t know James Naismith was KU’s first coach. I didn’t know Paul Pierce went to Kansas. I had never heard of Phog Allen. But I had heard of Jeff Boschee.
Originally, I thought I was just going to follow Boschee’s career and that would be that. But when I stayed up until god knows when watching the Great Alaska Shootout at the start of his sophomore year, I knew I was hooked. When I was just as crushed after Kansas lost the 2003 title game (after Boschee had graduated) as I was when they lost the 2002 national semifinal, that confirmed it.
Of course, Boschee’s calling card was his long range shooting. He made 79 threes as a freshman en route to a conference freshman of the year award, and a Big 12 Tournament MOP. He finished his career shooting 40 percent on 843 attempts, or roughly 6.2 per game, and his 338 makes were a Big 12 record when his career ended. They still are the most in Kansas history by an incredible amount, more than 100 more than the next closest. Devonte Graham would need to make 152 this season to tie Boschee, a number that seems virtually impossible.
Beyond his shooting, Boschee’s other calling card was his willingness to do what was best for the team. He came in as one of the top point guard recruits in the country, but immediately moved to the 2 as a sophomore to accommodate Kirk Hinrich. When Aaron Miles came to campus during Boschee’s senior year, he accommodated again.
Boschee had an assist rate of 23.7 percent as a freshman, and his turnover rate fell every year. His career culminated in 2002 when his 134 offensive rating led the entire country. As a senior Boschee shot 48 percent on twos, 46 percent from three (on a ridiculous 237 attempts) and was a good secondary ballhandler as well as an underrated defender (10th in the Big 12 in steals).
It’s fair to say Boschee was probably only the best player on his team as a freshman (as in, not during his sophomore, junior or senior years), but he is hands down the best complimentary player in Kansas history. He and Kirk Hinrich were one of the program’s best backcourts ever, both offensively and defensively, and it’s tough to see his 3-point record ever being broken.
And if all that fails, he gets 1,000,000 bonus points for being my favorite player.