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Boy, Oh Boy, Harvard Recruit Jeannie Boehm Sure Can Play

All of the Boehm children -- from left, Jeannie, Michael, Spencer, Peter, Connor and Jack -- have made a name for themselves in sports. Courtesy Rodger Boehm

For years, Jeannie Boehm was booed in her very own home.

Whenever the subject of Boehm's alleged basketball talents came up during family discussions, her five tall and talented brothers -- the shortest of whom is 6-foot-5 -- would jeer their only sister.

The verbal barbs started raining on Boehm when she was in sixth grade, after her parents forced the boys to go to one of their sister's AAU games.

Boehm admits she was "horrible" that day.

Undeterred, she kept working. Finally, last year, for the first time since the debacle of sixth grade, all five of her brothers showed up again for one of her AAU games.

This time, though, Boehm was terrific.

"I remember being so nervous before that game because my brothers mean a lot to me, and I wanted them to take me seriously in terms of basketball," Boehm said. "It felt unbelievable to prove them wrong and say, 'Ha, ha, ha! In your face!' That was a great feeling."

It may have taken a while to convince her brothers, but college coaches have been in the know for a while now. Boehm, a 17-year-old, 6-3 senior forward at New Trier (Winnetka, Illinois), turned down Duke, Princeton, Northwestern and DePaul.

She will instead play for Harvard, and her high school coach, Teri Rodgers, said the Crimson is getting a transformative player. As a junior, Boehm averaged 16.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 2.2 assists, shooting 56 percent from the floor and leading New Trier to a third-place finish at state.

She is the No. 81 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2016 class.

"To get a Top 100 kid is a great catch [for Harvard]," Rodgers said. "She can have a huge impact there.

"What's special about Jeannie is that she plays both ends of the court. She is an unbelievably talented defensive player. On offense, she can score but also pass out of the post.

"She makes her teammates better, and that's what you want when you are trying to lift a program."

Towering family tree

It wouldn't have taken any special powers to predict Boehm would be tall.

Her maternal grandfather was 6-6 and played basketball at Boston College. She has a 6-9 uncle, and her parents, Rodger and Susan, are 6-6 and 5-11½.

Rodger and Susan met at Harvard Business School. He played high school basketball. She played college lacrosse at Holy Cross.

When the Boehms started their family, Susan was determined to have at least one girl.

"We were going to have 20 kids if that's what it took to get a girl," said Rodger, whose family lives in Winnetka, 20 miles north of Chicago.

The first born were the twins, 6-6 Jack, who was a pitcher at Bucknell, and 6-5 Peter, who played one year of basketball at Harvard, teaming briefly with Jeremy Lin, witnessing "Linsanity" years before it became a national sensation with the New York Knicks.

Jack is now a civil engineer, and Peter works for a consulting firm. The twins, 25, share an apartment.

The third born was 6-7 Connor, who is a senior and a fourth-year starting forward on the Dartmouth basketball team. Majoring in economics, Connor has made the All-Academic Ivy League team.

Then there's 6-5 Michael, a sophomore at Bucknell who was on the rowing team for one year. He is majoring in environmental engineering.

Jeannie is next, and the baby of the crew is Spencer, who at 6-7½ is already the tallest of the siblings. He is just a high school freshman, but he is already on the New Trier varsity team.

Whether it's athletics or academics, this is certainly a talented family, and no one would blame Jeannie if she felt the pressure.

After all, her father, who is an engineer, made it clear what the family standard was: "I told her you can pick any major you want -- as long as it begins with an 'e,' engineering or economics."

Jeannie, who has a 4.7 GPA but still makes time for guilty pleasures such as shopping and reality television -- "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is her favorite -- said she will opt for economics in college.

Meanwhile, with all the boys in the house, Susan said she enjoyed dressing her only daughter in pink.

"She would stick these big pink and white bows in her head," Rodger said. "The bows were so big you would think it would topple her. I think she was 10 when [the bows] stopped."

While that was happening, Jeannie longed to go on travel-ball trips with her dad like her brothers had done. And while the brothers had no faith, Rodger saw potential in Jeannie as an athlete.

"My mom was so nervous about me being a tomboy because I was growing up in a house full of boys," Jeannie said. "I was a ballerina when I was little.

"With the influence of my brothers, I picked up basketball in the third grade. And even when things weren't going my way, my dad went on all my AAU trips and shot with me in the driveway. He was the basketball guy.

"But I was still the underdog."

Turning point

Haley Greer, a 5-11 senior point guard at New Trier, said Boehm has been a good player for as long as she can remember.

"Even in the eighth grade, she had moves I had never seen [for someone her age]," Greer said. "She would do step-backs. Her pick-and-rolls were faster than anyone else. And she had the ability to catch my not-so-good throws."

Boehm's brother Jack said he and his brothers deserve credit for making Jeannie into a "tough cookie." But he also had praise for his sister.

"I didn't see the athlete in Jeannie for a while," Jack said. "Growing up, we weren't that nice to her. We gave her a hard time.

"Dad was always saying, 'Jeannie is really good at basketball.'"

But her brothers had to see it for themselves.

"She dominated," Jack said of the game last year. "There were a lot of college coaches there, and they were all looking to talk to her.

"After the game, she gave us a look of 'I told you so.'

"That was the day we realized she was the real athlete in the family. I really like bragging about her now. I wouldn't want to play her. I wouldn't want to be embarrassed."