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Big week for Beachem to generate NBA Draft interest

Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem drives downcourt against Colgate on Dec. 19 in South Bend. (Photo by the Associated Press)
Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem drives downcourt against Colgate on Dec. 19 in South Bend. (Photo by the Associated Press)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Former New Haven standout playing in combine in Chicago.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 12:01 am

V.J. Beachem can't immediately change one mark against him as he goes through the rigors of scrutiny prior to the NBA Draft.

He can't suddenly turn his 200-pound frame into a 220-pound frame. He can get bigger and stronger over time, but not overnight.

Here's what Beachem can do with his opportunity to participate at the NBA Combine this week in Chicago: Shoot and defend.

Most draft-oriented analysts project Beachem going late in the second round of the June 22 draft or ending up undrafted. He is generally rated as the 60th to 75th best draft-eligible player by most outlets that cover the draft. There are 60 picks in the two-round draft. By those indications, he's on the fringe.

Still, he's intriguing as a “3 and D” player, someone who can hit the three-point and defend multiple positions. He could be the type of player who can step in and produce quality minutes off the bench.

It's a big positive for Beachem that his likely fit as a pro player would be very similar to his role with the Fighting Irish over the last few years. The NBA will be much more challenging, of course, with bigger, stronger players in his face on the perimeter. But his general assignment should be familiar.

This week's combine offers Beachem a chance to demonstrate those necessary traits of shooting and defending.

Anyone who has watched Beachem's career since his days at Harding and New Haven high schools through four years at the University of Notre Dame knows he can shoot. He's streaky at times, as many players are. But he's able to use his 6-foot-8 height and jumping ability to rise high and shoot over anyone on the perimeter.

Over the course of his Notre Dame career, Beachem hit 228 of 582 threes (39 percent), a success rate that could and should project to similar numbers as a professional.

At the combine, he'll need to reinforce the fact he can deliver three-pointers against elite defensive competition.

At the other end of the court, Beachem needs to turn some heads by delivering defensive intensity.

Again, he can't change weight and strength overnight. To be a quality NBA defender, it's likely he'll eventually need to push that 200-pound frame up to the 215-225 mark at least. Other 6-8 pro players of similar build are in that weight range. Think of Gordon Hayward at 226 pounds, Trevor Ariza at 215 pounds and Thaddeus Young at 221 pounds. Beachem can build up to that weight in time.

Beachem, who has been training in Santa Barbara, Calif., must tap into his intensity and intelligence on defense at the combine. Both factors are under his control, and he has the ability to excel in both. He's always been a smart, unselfish player capable of seeing the big picture of a team, or a defensive possession.

Beachem understands the game, and specifically, what he has to do to excel on defense. He has a nice wingspan, so he can block shots and disrupt passing lanes. He'll need to show he can defend both the three-pointer and on one-on-one drives to the basket.

There's no question Beachem has the skills to play pro basketball. The question is whether it's the NBA or the NBA Gatorade (formerly Development) League or overseas. The NBA is the preferred landing spot for every player, but they don't always get their first preference right out of college.

When the combine list initially came out, Beachem was an alternate, a reflection of his status with NBA scouts. He's on the fringe. Good enough to be drafted, but far from guaranteed to be drafted.

When a number of players opted out of the combine, Beachem's spot opened, and it's an opportunity.

This is a big week for Beachem to show he can excel in areas under his control. If he demonstrates enough for NBA scouts to see that elusive but highly valued “potential,” it'll be a winning week.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.


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