Evan Boudreaux

Purdue forward Evan Boudreaux dunks the ball during the first half of a Big Ten game against Iowa this season. The graduate transfer from Dartmouth gained acclaim for earning an Ivy League degree in three years, his receding hairline and his famous friends, including Rory McIlroy.

Evan Boudreaux is certainly smarter than most of us; more popular and athletic, too.

The Purdue forward graduated from Dartmouth in three years, is friends with the world’s No. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, and finished third in the prestigious Mr. Illinois Basketball race in 2015.

Boudreaux became somewhat of a folk legend in his two years as a graduate transfer at Purdue, due in part to his friendship with McIlroy and looking like he’s more than 23-year-old.

“I’m a pretty self-aware dude,” Boudreaux said. “Like, I’m a white guy who’s tall and a little under-sized, who’s got a receding hairline.”

He takes the jokes poking fun at his hairline lightly. Might as well have some fun with it when notable athletes such as McIlroy, Billie Jean King, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson wish him luck at the beginning of the season. The obscure tradition caught the eye of one of the biggest media companies in the world, Barstool Sports, which posted an article about it in November 2019.

“I learned to kind of take it in stride,” Boudreaux said. “Like, I thought it was really cool when the Barstool guys put out stuff about me. Even though they were kind of making fun, it was still cool. When I’d wake up when all that was happening, all my teammates would be blowing up my phone. I wouldn’t even be seeing that stuff first. It’s cool, though. Like, when am I ever going to have that kind of platform again?”

McIlroy has sent a good luck tweet Boudreaux’s way ever since the fall of 2015 when he was a freshman at Dartmouth. Every year since, it’s gained more traction and curiosity as to why, and how, the two became friends.

About eight years ago, Boudreaux’s dad, Terry, was selected to play in a Pro-Am golf tournament. He was the first pick in the draft where amateurs pick their pro to play with and naturally, he selected McIlroy. Terry and McIlroy hit it off in their rounds together and became friends and business partners because of it.

However, seeing as Boudreaux and McIlroy were closer in age, the two of them hit it off as well. They exchanged phone numbers and have been close since. This isn’t your average “friendship” either. It’s not some big-time celebrity hanging out with and talking to some kid because he feels he owes his friend and business partner something. Boudreaux and McIlroy are legitimate friends.

“We’ve gone to Ireland to hang out and play golf with him,” Boudreaux said. “We’ve become relatively close throughout the years. We text a decent amount and he’s introduced me to some of his other golf friends, Ian Poulter and (Henrik) Stenson.”

Behind Boudreaux’s folk legend front lies an elite student, a Dartmouth graduate who can flat out ball despite his YMCA league look. He was a second-team All-Ivy League player his sophomore season, where he averaged 18.8 points and 10 rebounds in conference play. This success wasn’t surprising to those who saw Boudreaux in high school and know his family history.

He holds Lake Forest High School’s record in career points (2,076) and finished second in Illinois in scoring (24.8 points per game) and rebounding (13.6) in a 2014-15 senior campaign in which he finished third in Mr. Illinois Basketball voting behind current Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson and former NBA hopeful Charles Matthews.

Basketball has always come naturally to Boudreaux, too. His mom, Gail, was an Ivy League Player of the Year and All-American in three of her four years at Dartmouth.

Even with the career accolades during his time at Dartmouth, Boudreaux never expected to play a large role on a Power Five team, much less one that made an Elite Eight run. He originally committed to Xavier after his first college graduation, but an offer from Purdue late in the process changed his mind.

“You know, out of high school I just wanted to play some basketball and get a degree,” Boudreaux said. “And I ended up getting a degree from an Ivy League school, which was a dream of mine. Once I did that, I wanted to win. I hadn’t experienced that a lot at Dartmouth and Purdue was everything I could’ve ever wanted in that regard.”

The 2018-19 season gave Boudreaux just that, as the Boilermakers won the Big 10 and nearly made the Final Four in his first year with the program.

“When you’re at a school like (Dartmouth) and you go, like, 7-20, it’s almost like a different league,” Boudreaux said. “But schools like Purdue, it’s a totally different mindset. You know you have the ability and talent to beat anybody in the country and go into the Elite Eight, whereas Dartmouth you’re just happy to make the Tournament. At Purdue, you’re expected to win at least a couple games in it. You have real aspirations, which is definitely what I signed up for.”

This season didn’t go quite as expected with him going through injuries, Purdue going 16-15 on the year and postseason basketball getting canceled.

But he’s still thankful for the way everything went down and wouldn’t change a thing – transfers, injuries and all.

“I don’t want to say I gamed the system, but I kind of did,” Boudreaux joked. “I got a (Bachelor’s) degree from an Ivy League school and a Masters (degree) from Purdue in five years total. So the way it worked out, being able to use athletics to pull that off was a big win for me and my future.”

Email: jparodi@thenewsdispatch.com. Twitter: @jack_parodi

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