Bucknell’s answer man

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bucknell swingman G.W. Boon always dreamed of becoming a doctor – until he realized he couldn’t stand the sight of blood.

So as schools came to his hometown of Harvest, Ala. – about 15 miles south of the Tennessee border in central Alabama – to recruit him for basketball, Boon told them he needed a college with a great engineering program.

Now a senior and captain of the Bison team that plays third-seeded Connecticut on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA tournament’s West Regional, he also is something else: an inventor.

Boon has his name on two devices, put together at Bucknell’s Geisinger Medical Center, that soon might help doctors in medical procedures.

The most recent, which is called an “Arterial Sensor,” can be used during tonsillectomies. Apparently, a common problem in tonsil removals is the tendency for doctors to accidentally clip nearby blood vessels.

“It would be nice to have something that would keep them from nicking that artery,” Boon said as he stood in Bucknell’s locker room at the Verizon Center just before the team headed out for practice Wednesday.

The other invention, developed over the summer, is a pacifier doctors can use to collect DNA samples from babies. Currently, the most commonly employed method is pricking the child’s heel with a needle. Boon calls this one the “Salifier.”

Both inventions were developed with a small group of students. He worked with two others on the arterial sensor and one other on the “Salifier.”

“It’s taken a whole lot of hours,” Boon said. “But to be able to invent my own device, it’s very cool.”

What’s even more remarkable is how Boon has time for basketball. Through his four seasons at Bucknell, he has been the team’s sixth man and an offensive spark. Two years ago, as a sophomore, he averaged nearly 10 points a game. This season, he is averaging 8.8 in 20 minutes per game and hitting on 36 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Still, the inventions, which are part of his course work, take an enormous amount of energy. Asked what a typical day is like, Boon said he has class from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., racing to the basketball office to watch film in-between lectures. When practice is over in the early evening, he heads to the laboratory.

“A few times in the last couple weeks I’ve had to pull an all-nighter [in the lab],” he said.

Then he laughed.

“I don’t sleep much,” he said.

Les Carpenter is a feature writer and columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Les a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011