By Matt Dougherty, Patriot League Media Relations Director
Bucknell's G.W. Boon has been a contributor since he stepped foot on the Lewisburg campus in the fall of 2007. The senior is among the active Patriot League leaders in three-pointers made, and is putting together another solid year as the Bison post their best season in Boon's tenure.
But while his on-the-court accomplishments are significant, Boon's success in the classroom provides an even more compelling story.
The 6-foot-4 senior from Harvest, Alabama chose one of the most difficult majors for any college student when he selected biomedical engineering at Bucknell. Boon has thrived in the classroom, and put his significant talents to use over the summer by doing research with the Geisinger Medical Center in nearby Danville, Pa..
"I was working with the biomedical engineering department at Bucknell along with Geisinger Medical Center," Boon said. "We did a design project where a student partner and I invented a devise called the salifier and what it does is collect saliva from infants for DNA testing.
Boon knew the rigors of taking on such a difficult major while also competing in athletics, but his passion for both endeavors helps in the challenging balance between basketball and books.
"The first year was kind of rough for me, but I'm really dedicated to the things that I put my heart into and that includes basketball and my academics," Boon said. "That's why I'm here since Bucknell has one of the best combinations of athletics and academics in the nation and that's something that the Patriot League really boasts with all of its schools. I was able to really hunker down and get all of my work done along with basketball just by learning some good time management."
Boon played his first season at Bucknell under long-time Head Coach Pat Flannery. When he decided to step away after Boon's freshman year, the Bison went through their first transition at the head coaching position since the mid-90s when Dave Paulsen was hired in the spring of 2008.
"It was rough, my roommate (Todd O'Brien) ended up leaving Bucknell during that time," Boon said. "But I think we've made the best of it, I really love Coach Flannery but they did a really good job getting a great coach and we are paying the dividends now getting a lot of wins and playing well."
The Bison have enjoyed increasing success under Paulsen. They finished in second place at 9-5 in the Patriot League last season, and notched wins over La Salle and Richmond in non-League action before becoming the 11th team to open the season with six League victories this winter.
Boon and fellow seniors Stephen Tyree and Darryl Shazier have been there through it all and emerged as leaders for a group of both veteran and young talent.
"I think that we've really become comfortable with the offense and we really believe in the things that Coach Paulsen preaches to us," Boon said. "Every day we have things up in our locker room that talk about the values of our team like passion and focus. He really counts on us seniors to really push those things and we really got everyone on board."
Despite his impressive career numbers, Boon has come off the bench throughout the majority of his career at Bucknell. He has played in every game during his career through the first half of the Patriot League schedule, but started just 23 times in 115 contests with more than half of those starts coming in the second half of his sophomore season. Many players struggle in that role, but Boon found a mindset to succeed as the sixth man.
"I basically treat myself like a starter," Boon said. "When the ball gets tipped, I'm ready to go right then so when they call my number I'm already locked in and can come in and produce on offense and defense."
In playing in every game in his career at Bucknell, Boon has enjoyed plenty of outstanding moments both individually and for the team. He scored 11 points against No. 23 Villanova in just his third collegiate game, had three 20-point games as a sophomore and scored a season-high 18 in a win over eventual Patriot League champion Lehigh last season. Boon hit a tying three-pointer with 41 seconds left in triple overtime in the Patriot League quarterfinals at Navy in 2008, a game the Bison eventually won on a near half-court buzzer-beater by John Griffin. He experienced a revival of the program last year with a 9-5 Patriot League mark, and another buzzer-beater on Jan. 2 when Mike Muscala gave the Bison an upset win over Richmond (though Boon still likes Griffin's shot better).
But through almost a full four years at Bucknell, the dramatic win over Navy is still the only fond memory for Boon in the Patriot League Tournament. The Bison were beaten in the semifinals by Colgate in 2008, and lost in the quarterfinals to Holy Cross in each of the past two seasons. Boon came to Bucknell on the heels of three straight trips to the Patriot League title game and two championships in that span, and returning the Bison to that position is Boon's final goal.
"It means a lot, I came here to win," he said. "I came to a winning program and I expect nothing less of that. We've fallen short of that goal in the past few years but we're back on track and I'm glad that I'll be able to see the program out on a high note. Hopefully it will stay at that high level."
After the Bison close their season and Boon graduates from Bucknell in May, the options are open for someone who epitomizes the term student-athlete.
"I've applied to a couple of biomedical engineering programs throughout the country but I might end up sticking with my first love and play basketball for a few years, maybe over in Europe," Boon said.
Judging by his success on and off the court, wherever Boon goes will be lucky to have him.
This story appears in the Patriot League Tournament program, which will be available for purchase at host sites for both the men and women's tournaments.