Five years ago, when Beau Beech was being recruited by the University of North Florida, he made a promise to head coach Matthew Driscoll. He told his future coach that he wanted to be the first player from the program to make it to the NBA and that he also wanted to go down as the best player to play at North Florida.
Now, it seems as though Beech is on the verge of fulfilling at least one of those promises. The four-year guard has spent the past several weeks preparing for this month’s NBA draft and has been working hard to make a lasting impression on team scouts and executives.
As most prospects do, he starts a typical day off at about 7:30 a.m. and heads straight to the gym. For about two hours, Beech works on everything with Coach Arthur William (or A.W.) Canada from ball-handling drills to conditioning exercises.
What’s been helpful for Beech has been working out with veteran players like Cory Jefferson, Quincy Acy and Keith Benson. Following his first workout of the day, he has about an hour-and-a-half layover in between his next workout so he can sit back and watch how those NBA guys approach workouts.
He studies how they do certain moves on the court, and soaks up as much information as he can. The group hits the weight room after the on-court drills, which is much more strenuous than the exercises he did in college. He says those workouts are on a “whole ‘nother level.”
“Cory and Quincy have been really helpful because they worked out for a bunch of teams when they were going through the process themselves,” Beech told Basketball Insiders in a phone interview. “Any team that I work out for, they’ll say, ‘We worked out for them a couple of years ago – this is what we did and this is what they like to see.’
“It really gives you an advantage going into a workout. When we play two-on-two, they push me around a little bit, but I wouldn’t want it any other way because it just helps so much with growth and the learning curves. It really helps me out a lot.”
While it appears Beech is on the verge of making it to the NBA, his other promise – to become one of the best players in school history – seems to be panning out pretty well. Beech leaves North Florida as the second-leading scorer in program history.
He briefly took over as the all-time leader during the season, but teammate Dallas Moore outscored him by 68 points this season. Moore will continue to add to his total next season, as he opted to return for his senior year, so Beech will settle for second. Beech joked that he broke the record first, so that will be how he remembers it.
Beech turned in his most productive year at North Florida this past season after averaging 15.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, two assists and 1.2 steals per game, while shooting a career-best 42 percent from three-point range. He was named to the First Team All-Atlantic Sun team for his efforts.
He’s one of the most unique prospects in this year’s draft class. Listed at 6’9, Beech played the majority of his time at North Florida at shooting guard. He’s also proven that he can play at small forward, as well as some power forward. Given his size, he said he wants to show teams that he can do a number of different things at the next level.
“I think it’s a lot of things that teams want to see,” Beech said. “Am I quick enough to be a guard? It’s those kinds of things that I want to work on and show my versatility. I feel like I’m a great shooter and I want to keep getting better. I want to be in the category of Kyle Korver and guys like that, where you can’t rest with them shooting the ball because you know it’s going in.
“That’s where I want to get to eventually and try to model my game after that and being able to move like that – move effectively and guard multiple positions to where I can’t be taken out of the game. I just really want to get better each day at any aspect of my game.”
Beech has been putting what he’s learned from those veteran players and Coach Canada to good use so far during the pre-draft process. Beech has already worked out for about six teams so far, and has upcoming workouts scheduled with the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
He just completed his Pro Day earlier this week in front about 16 teams in Las Vegas and was among those who stood out the most. His combination of size and ability to shoot should be enough to earn Beech some interest among teams drafting in the second round. Shooting comes at a premium now in the NBA, and Beech has illustrated that he’s among the best shooters in this year’s class.
“The big thing for me is I don’t want to do anything that I can’t do,” Beech said of what he’s showing teams in workouts. “I want to show them that I can shoot. I just go in there and I take the shot that I feel comfortable with. Not that I shy away from taking any shots, but shots that I practice.
“So I take any shot that I feel good with. I feel pretty good about a lot of shots. I want to make as many shots as possible, and I can never make enough shots. No matter how many I make, I can always make one or two more.”
One of the big things for Beech coming into North Florida was he wanted to help build the basketball program. The school has compiled a 45-24 record during the past two seasons and appeared in the NCAA tournament two years ago and the NIT last season.
During his time at North Florida, he helped the program become a contender each year in the Atlantic Sun, and also helped kick off his professional career as well. He wants the incoming class of players to see his jersey in the rafters and also wants them to know that he stayed true with his NBA promise to his head coach.
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