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Focus on the big time: Jeff Boschee

Jeff Boschee played in the NCAA Final Four. He set school and conference records at one of the nation's most prestigous basketball institutions. He wore Wilt Chamberlain's number. And he did it all without so much as wide eyes. "Somet...

Jeff Boschee played in the NCAA Final Four. He set school and

conference records at one of the nation's most prestigous basketball institutions.

He wore Wilt Chamberlain's number.

And he did it all without so much as wide eyes.

"Sometimes (Kansas) coach (Roy) Williams would say, 'I don't know if he's fearless or clueless,'" Boschee said. "And I did look pretty clueless out there not knowing what to do."

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Sure fooled us.

If Boschee, a 1998 Valley City High grad, was known for anything -- other than his brazen good looks -- it was the steely indifference with which he buried long-range shots.

For four seasons he lurked on the perimeter for the University of Kansas men's basketball team, gravitating to the 3-point line as if it were attached to the toe of his Nikes.

Just when you were sure Boschee had fallen asleep -- swoosh. With one smooth motion he caught the ball, let it roll off his fingers and tagged three more points on the Jayhawks' opponent.

Then, like a cold-blooded mercenary, he'd trot back up court with nary a fist-pump, refusing to acknowledge the damage he inflicted.

It was the same routine after nearly all of his 338 career 3-pointers, the most in Kansas and Big 12 Conference history.

"Boschee was lethal, he really was. Every other coach was always concerned about where Jeff was and that opened it up so much more for the other guys," Williams said. "That's what having a great 3-point threat does -- somebody who shoots them is not a threat, but somebody who makes it is a threat.

"Every time Jeff Boschee shot it I thought it was going in and so did that other coach."

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From the moment Boschee -- North Dakota Class A's all-time leading scorer and most sought-after prospect -- stepped onto Kansas' Lawrence campus, he was a projected impact player.

"Jacque Vaughn with a jumpshot," people called him.

The comparison was only half-correct, as the 6-foot-1 Boschee platooned between point guard and shooting guard for three seasons, but the expectations were exceeded.

Appearing in all 137 games from 1998-2002, Boschee averaged 11.4 points and 3.1 assists. He ranks in the top 10 for career points (1,560), assists (425), steals (160), starts (132) and every 3-point shooting category at Kansas, one of the most celebrated programs in the history of college basketball.

He received individual awards -- Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 1999 -- while instrumental to team success -- the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1, went 16-0 in the Big 12 and reached the Final Four in 2002.

He also became a teen idol.

Not bad from an unsuspecting kid from the prairie.

"When he left (for Kansas), we knew how good he was in North Dakota, but after that you didn't know what to expect," said Bob Suko, Boschee's high school coach. "I knew he could do it, but we were all surprised at how quickly he did it."

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Out of college eligibility, the future is wide open.

Boschee has one year of schooling left to earn a degree in Sports Management and initially planned to return to Kansas in the fall.

He's since reconsidered.

"I'm going to see what happens with (professional) basketball," Boschee said. "I have a couple of options right now. I'm going to try to make the NBA and if that doesn't happen I'll be satisfied with hanging up the shoes and going into coaching."

So, looking back, which was it -- clueless or fearless?

It's probably a little of each and that's good, Boschee said.

If he stopped to dwell on what he was up against, he might have been too scared to pull the trigger.

"It was a fun ride and a great journey," he said. "It's something I'll take with me the rest of my life."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548

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