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Late-blooming Neshaminy grad Danny Bodine thinking big at TCNJ

11/16/2022, 11:15am EST
By Joseph Santoliquito

Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)

COLLEGEVILLE — Danny Bodine’s development as a basketball player came late—real late. Unusually late. He was once the tall kid who walked through the halls of Neshaminy High School always asked why he wasn’t playing basketball.

That came his junior year—on junior varsity. As a senior, he started, a 6-foot-9, 160-pound spaghetti strand who was still learning the rudiments of the game, and who’s progressed even more, to the point where agents are calling about him, at The College of New Jersey.

Danny Bodine (above) has gone from a scrawny Neshaminy grad to thinking about a pro career. (Photo courtesy Jimmy Alagna/TCNJ)

Bodine now stands at 6-9, and weighs 210 starting for the Lions as a graduate student-athlete, holding down a double-major in kinesiology and public health, while working three days a week at a local CVS and playing basketball fulltime for Division III TCNJ.

“I don’t why I started so late, maybe because I was so stubborn, but I was playing in a summer league, I remember, when (Neshaminy assistant) coach (Mark) Leonhauser came up to me about playing basketball (in high school),” recalled Bodine, 22. “I came around. I make time to do this. I think I’m more confident, and that may have to do with gaining weight.

“I was able to put on 50 pounds over four years. I’m aiming for playing in Europe. I always aim for the highest level of basketball I could play. If I ever went back (in time) to talk to a younger version of me, I don’t think I would believe myself if I told him what I was doing and where I am.”

In two games this season, Bodine’ averaging 14 points and 6 rebounds a game. 

He dropped a team-high 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the Lions’ season-opening 87-50 loss to Division I Rider on Nov. 2. On Tuesday night, he kept up his shooting pace, dropping 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting and a team-high 6 rebounds, one steal and two blocked shots over 30 minutes in the Lions’ 99-72 loss to undefeated Ursinus.

As a senior, Bodine started all 24 games and was second on the Lions in scoring, averaging 12.1 ppg and led the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg). He was second in the NJAC in rebounding and blocked shots (49), falling one block short of tying Jimmy Glover's single-season school record from 1988.

Danny Bodine (above) shoots a free-throw during a game in Jan. 2018, his senior year at Neshaminy. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

It’s a long way from the kid who would play pick-up games in the park with his friends.

“I don’t like to look back and regret anything, because I believe that I’m here for a reason, so whatever happened in the pass happened, so I can’t change it,” said Bodine, who carries a 3.0 GPA. “I’m juggling a lot of things right now. I’m working locally at a CVS in Bucks County three days a week as a pharmacy technician. It’s a lot, I know, but it’s all about time management.”

When TCNJ head coach Matt Goldsmith first saw Bodine at Neshaminy, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Here was this agile, 6-9 kid who moved so gracefully, yet never played before.

It’s why, Goldsmith feels, Bodine is beginning to blossom now.

“I remember going to a fall workout with Danny, when (Neshaminy) coach Mark Tingle reached out to us about Danny,” Goldsmith recalled. “He told us he had this kid who is 6-9 and never played varsity basketball before, but he’s super skinny and he could be pretty good. They did a live one-on-one, with Danny working on another post. They were zig-zagging up and down the court, and on the first possession, Danny crossed the other kid over and dunked it.

“I was shocked that he could move the way he did. Right then, we knew we wanted him. We would go to the Neshaminy games and Danny might score four points; he would have a few blocks. He would be on the floor a lot, because he was getting pushed around, since he was so skinny.”

Bodine (above) averaged 12.1 ppg and 7.3 rpg last season. (Photo courtesy Jimmy Alagna/TCNJ)

But Goldsmith saw Bodine could run, he could catch, he had a good shooting touch. As soon as Bodine got to Goldsmith, they envisioned him as a stretch four, but they wanted him away from the post. With his agile feet, they thought he could guard the perimeter.

“Danny bought into the vision and we had him drilling with bigs and guards every practice, and sometimes we had him working only with guards, or only bigs depending on what we needed,” Goldsmith said. “His career started with us at the ‘5’ and his junior year, we started messing around with him out on the wing, and he’s really grown more.

“The last and latest piece of his development is the added weight. He’s not getting pushed around. He’s explosive to the basket. I don’t think there are many Division III players who can slow Danny down.”

Goldsmith was contacted by agents last spring and he told them Bodine will be coming back for another year to finish school. Bodine has expressed his desire over the last year to play professionally.

“Danny has been great for us, as a team captain the last two years, and the confidence he’s showing,” Goldsmith said. “Danny is shooting with confidence. He’s wanting the ball more and it’s something we still have to get on him a little bit about. But we’re talking about a kid who was once a junior in high school and never saw the ball at all. I can see it.

“He’s grown a ton in the time he’s been here. We’re proud of him.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here .

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