Boumtje Boumtje: Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year
a great regular season, Georgetown was not supposed to lose in
the first round of the Big East Tournament. But a tough 58-40
loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden abruptly ended their
quest for the title. With a 23-6 record and a second place finish
in the Big East’s West division, the defensive-minded squad from
D.C. was not yet ready to go home, and the teary- eyed, dejected
Hoyas sat quietly in the losing locker room.
In the middle of the room, drained from defeat, sat Georgetown’s
seven-foot, 257-pound, senior center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje. “Of
course we’re disappointed,” he said in a low whisper when asked
about the loss. “We wanted to win this tournament. Unfortunately
it’s not the case; we have to put this loss behind us and go back
As Boumtje continued to answer questions from reporters, it became
evident that this would not be just another consolation speech
by a defeated athlete. The president of the Georgetown math club
and a math major, Boumtje was born and raised in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Asked what it felt like to be named the 2001 Big East Scholar-Athlete
of the year he said he was excited. As he continued, he couldn’t
contain his enthusiasm for academics. “I didn’t really expect
it. It was a great honor for me. But, more so for my parents,
who are very happy for me.”
While the well-rounded Boumtje plans on heading to medical school
some day, he still has some unfinished business on the basketball
court. “My first option is hopefully to go to the NBA. If not,
then medical school,” he said. Ruben was the third leading shot-blocker
in the Big East this season, with almost three blocks per game,
but his value to his team goes way beyond statistics. His athletic,
intimidating presence in the middle of the Georgetown defense
allowed the squad to hold opponents down to a meager 68-point
average per game.
like a brick wall,” said Seton Hall guard, Desmond Herod. “He’s
the key to a game. Whenever you go up for a shot, he’s there.
You know he’s going to try to block your shot.”
Not bad for someone who didn’t begin playing basketball until
he was 15. Growing up in Cameroon, Boumtje mostly played soccer,
thus explaining why he still lacks some of the more refined offensive
moves of other top inside college players, although he still averaged
almost ten points a game this season. With his tremendous mobility
and with the increased specialization of the NBA—a strong seven-foot
defensive presence can help win games—Boumtje has a legitimate
shot to play for pay.
scouts will look at him and look at his marvelous physical skills,
understanding that he’s a very intelligent young man and put the
two together and see that there’s great potential there,” said
Len Elmore, an ESPN college basketball analyst and former NBA
standout. “When he’s on, he’s as intimidating as anyone in the
Whether in a warm-up suit or in a lab coat, Georgetown’s senior
captain has come a long way since he arrived here before his senior
year in high school. He’s improved his basketball skills, provided
important leadership to his teammates and perhaps, most importantly,
he has created his own opportunities for a bright future.
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