Back in June, Beau Beech told Basketball Insiders about his plan of playing in the NBA. Prior to beginning his collegiate career at the University of North Florida, he told head coach Matt Driscoll that he would be the first player from the program to play in the NBA.
In addition to becoming the first player to make it to the league, he also wanted to become the best player to come out of the university. That promise nearly came true after Beech left as the second-leading scorer in program history.
Beech made a name for himself at North Florida as a shooter. During his senior year, he averaged 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.
If you count the Summer League as making it to the NBA, then he’s fulfilled that promise already. Shortly after going undrafted in June’s draft, Beech agreed to play for the Brooklyn Nets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas.
Beech flashed all aspects of his game that made the Nets take a chance on him. At 6’9, Beech played primarily in college at shooting guard and small forward, but has enough size to guard bigger players when needed. He can also shoot over smaller defenders.
In five games with the Nets in Las Vegas, Beech averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 33 percent from three-point range. He scored in double figures in three of those contests and wrapped up his Summer League campaign by scoring 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range.
“It is just Summer League, but in the same breath, Summer League is correlated to the NBA,” Beech told Basketball Insiders. “What happens in Summer League may not be a direct correlation right away, but it definitely has the same kind of game flow, the same schemes and the same thinking for coaches and players. It’s on a smaller scale, but it’s definitely good to have had that experience underneath my belt and it definitely gave me a lot more confidence going into camp.”
Of course, he doesn’t just want to play on their Summer League team. He wants to play in a regular season NBA game. Players who agree to Summer League deals with teams are guaranteed virtually nothing by that team. They play with the hopes that they can make a big enough impression to be brought into training camp.
On August 5, the Nets officially announced that they signed Beech to a contract. Beech will now have the opportunity that he’s always wanted to play in the NBA. A long summer of working out and improving his skill set is nearly over with teams set to open training camps in just a few weeks.
“I can’t wait,” Beech said. “It’s going to be a long two weeks of waiting. Once I’m there and in camp, it’s going to be great. I really just can’t wait anymore because it seems like Summer League was years ago that week in Las Vegas. I’m ready to get up in there and start working out with the guys and meeting the guys and integrating with them. I just can’t wait to get that feeling back again [being with the guys]. Plus, it’s in Brooklyn, NY, so it’s not a bad place to be.”
After taking a look at the Nets’ roster, it’s easy to see that Beech faces an uphill battle to make the final 15 (the maximum number of players teams can carry into the regular season). The team currently has 15 players guaranteed on the roster and Beech’s deal is only partially guaranteed.
Under new management, the Nets were extremely aggressive in free agency this summer with the hope of becoming a more competitive team in the Eastern Conference. The team signed Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Trevor Booker, Randy Foye and Greivis Vasquez among others. In addition, they pursued restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe, but ultimately missed out on them.
Despite facing such a tough battle in order to lock down a roster spot, Beech isn’t giving up. He’s going into training camp on a mission to play as well as he can and learn as much as he can from the team’s existing veteran players.
“[The Nets] signed the roster that they wanted to sign and those players are all very good and I respect all of them,” Beech said. “As a competitor, not having a fully-guaranteed contract, I want a fully-guaranteed contract. That’s my goal and that’s what I want to do. I want to be on this team from day one, but I know the situation at the same time.
“I’m just going to go out there and do what I do. I’m in camp for a reason and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make the team and to stay on the team in whatever order it is. I’m just extremely blessed to even be in this situation to have this opportunity, so I’m going to make the most of it. I can promise you that.”
It’s important in these situations for players to understand the situation and have an open mind with things. He said he chose to sign with the Nets because he felt very comfortable with their system and that the coaches felt comfortable with him as well. He also understands that the D-League could be in his future as well.
We’ve seen over the years how players have used solid showings in Summer League, training camp and then in the D-League to make their case to be on an NBA roster. Players look at a guy like Tyler Johnson and see that he had to grind his way up through the Miami HEAT’s system, but he was eventually rewarded with a four-year, $50 million contract.
“I know it definitely can be done,” Beech said. “I’m sure if I ask Tyler how he did it, he’d just say hard work. Jeremy Lin on our team is another great example. It seems almost half of the league at this point has played all over the world. I know that nobody wants to go through the whole D-League process; you can ask Tyler and Jeremy and I’m sure they’d agree. But look at where it’s gotten them now. It’s made them stronger and made them better basketball players and they understood what it was going to take to where they are now.
“I’m just going to stick to my plan and pick the brain of those guys on our team. Jeremy is on our team and he’s a great guy. He’s very open in a sense of he wants to be a good teammate and he is a good teammate.”
For now, Beech will continue training as he anxiously counts down the days before camp starts. He may already be at a bit of an advantage as several players in the Nets’ camp played with him during Summer League, like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Sean Kilpatrick and Yogi Ferrell among others.
He is very excited to spend as much time as he can in the team’s new practice facility. He joked that the facility is so nice that players almost don’t want to leave. The skyline of lower Manhattan and New Jersey can even be seen from the practice court.
“I could probably go sleep there at night,” Beech said. “It’s that kind of nice and comfortable so there is no reason not to get better when you’re in there. I don’t want to leave when I’m in there. Why would I leave this? This is unbelievable.”
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