Many college athletes look up to professional athletes in order to improve their game, but rarely does the college player have not one, but two, family connections to the big leagues.
FIU freshman Jason Boswell is the exception. The Bronx native is closely related to Cleveland Cavalier star Kyrie Irving. The two are first cousins, and for Boswell, it’s been a positive note in his basketball career.
“It’s fun because whenever I get into a tough spot, I got people I can talk to,”
“I speak to Kyrie a lot and for the most part I get a lot of good advice from him. Try to play with a lot of poise. Be deceptive,” Boswell said.
Boswell is also first cousins with Lance Thomas, former New Orleans Pelican, now member of the Guangdong Foshan Dralions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Boswell grew up with Irving. Both their fathers played pickup basketball games as the cousins watched from the sidelines. As time went by, the two kids would later play each other for fun and with Irving already a top athlete in the NBA, it gives Boswell an advantage on what to work on to become a better player himself.
“Try to play with a good pace and try to change speeds a lot is what he tells me,” Boswell said.
Boswell, who is averaging 4.1 points per game, is still learning the system of new Head Coach Anthony Evans. Boswell did not start the season as the team’s starting point guard, but with NCAA eligibility concerns hovering over senior Raymond Taylor, Boswell was thrown into the fire but is adjusting as days go by.
“Ray’s my teammate, my friend. I want him to come back but if he can’t I still have to play, I still have to step up,” Boswell said.
As a student at Florida Atlantic University, Taylor declared for the NBA Draft after the 2011-12 season. According to the NBA, Taylor was included in the early draft list released on May 3, 2012, but listed as having withdrawn from the list on June, 20 2012.
According to the NCAA manual, the deadline to withdraw was April 10, 2012. With Boswell taking over the starting point guard position, each day has become a learning experience for the college rookie.
“I think I’m adjusting more every game,” Boswell said. “The team is starting to gel better each game. I know we had a couple tough losses but those are all learning experiences for us.”
Boswell was recruited by teams such as Pittsburgh, Oklahoma and UCLA, just to name a few, but ultimately decided to begin his college career at FIU, most in part to what Evans, a New York native, had told him during his recruiting period.
“Coach has a New York background so that relationship was there and I can trust him,” Boswell said. “He was 100 percent honest with me when he was recruiting me and that’s what really sold me.”
Evans is known to help players reach the NBA level, most notably Kyle O’Quinn when he played under Evans at Norfolk State.
According to Boswell, Evans is a big reason why O’Quinn was able to make it to the Orlando Magic.
“The kid [O’Quinn ] wasn’t that good when he started playing basketball and now he’s a professional athlete,” Boswell said.
O’Quinn led the Spartans to their second round win over the second ranked Missouri Tigers during the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Prior to playing for the Spartans, O’Quinn had contemplated quitting basketball to pursue football.
Under Evans, O’Quinn earned several awards, such as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was twice named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Though Boswell chose to leave his hometown for Miami, he still has a little bit of New York in his new state. Senior forward Tymell Murphy was also born and raised in New York, giving Boswell an easier transition to the new chapter in his life.
“It makes it a lot easier to adjust to because I got people I can relate to,” Boswell said. The lifestyle and culture of Miami has been different for Boswell, but having the close relationship with his coach and teammate, it’s allowed for him to easily adjust to his new life.
“They understand where I’m coming from so they understand why I do certain things. So it makes it a lot easier,” Boswell said.
Standing at 6-foot-6, Boswell is taller than most other starting college point guards. The size, though, does have its benefits.
“It has its advantages and disadvantages but I take it more as an advantage because I can use my size,” he said. “I’m not just slow—I’m actually quick so that works in my advantage.”