Posted On: 04/6/18 10:00 AM
If you look up the definition of the word character, there is a good chance that you’ll see a photo of Brandon Beckman next to the description. One of the best guards in Northern California is known for a lethal shooting touch and ability to make his teammates better. The tough minded competitor gave me a moment of his time to gain insight into how he has become who he is today and how he continues to prepare diligently everyday.
What is it like to be able to compete at a high level with teammates that you grew up with?
All throughout middle school I grew up playing AAU and CYO with and against a certain group of people. I grew close to many of them through the battles we fought on the court to the time we spent off the court, so it was something special when I found out a group of these kids would also be going to St. Ignatius in San Francisco. Through the huge journey of just growing up together, I knew I had a group that I could sure count on playing basketball and going to school with each and every day. This special group gave me that much more drive to get better myself, be a leader, and play for my teammates. Growing up with this group made each game more special, especially in the big ones. We would fight together in front of 5,000 in the annual Bruce Mahoney game at USF, play in hostile environments like Serra and Mitty, and come out on top in so many of these games. Coach Marcaletti, the Varsity coach at St. Ignatius, also played a huge role on impacting our journey. He brought us even closer as he taught us how to play like a team, to play like it’s our last, and to take advantage of each day to make a new memory. This journey with people I would call my brothers and lifelong friends has been one that I will always cherish, and I’m glad it got to be with a group of players that I’ve known forever.
Youv’ve been playing AAU from a very young age. How did that help you develop as player?
From the time I was 8 years old, AAU basketball has been a big part of my life. It helped introduce me to so many new people and many new friendships. It also gave me the opportunity to learn from a variety of new coaches. The one that first introduced me to AAU and taught me so much about the game of basketball was Mike Smith. From the very beginning, he taught me the fundamentals of the game along with important life lessons like the concept of “next play,” being a leader, and a strong work ethic. Kevin Smith built onto Mike Smith’s teaching and gave me confidence growing up. He invited me to play up on an older team, and always relied on me to play well, put me in high pressure situations, and gave me a lot of in game experiences. Mike Turner, a coach that I have worked with most during late grade school till now, brought me to a whole new level. I worked with him one on one many of hours and he would help drive me to be a better player. Having a lot of fun learning new moves and expanding my game, each AAU coach impacted me and my journey in different ways, and that has really added to me as an overall player. Traveling with my AAU team also exposed me to new cities, new gyms, playing against different styles of basketball, championship situations and tough losses, exposed me to great teammates and opponents, and pushed me to play at higher levels and demonstrate leadership on the court. All of this experience added to who I am as an overall player.
How did you become such a gifted shooter?
From the very beginning, I’ve had a lot of good coaches to help bring me to where I am today. These coaches taught me some basic mechanics and techniques in grade school that I would constantly work at even though I was little – Flicking your wrist, holding your follow through, getting a good amount of arc, and so much more. Later on, I was able to move my shot higher and get used to this more effective shooting form. I think what really set me apart with shooting was the amount of time I spent just getting up shots up and taking criticism from coaches. I’ve truly loved spending time to get better, especially on my shot. In high school, I have put a lot of emphasis on getting my shot off quicker than ever. Coach Turner, along with my dad, have taught me not to bring the ball down on my shot. With tips like these and spending hours at local gyms just shooting with my dad, who has put a lot of care and effort in helping me do what I love, I was able to develop and turn practice into success during the season.
What do you think is the most underrated aspect about your game?
One thing that a lot of college coaches have told me and respected me most for is my IQ and my effort on the court. During times out in Vegas for an AAU game or back at SI, I find myself making a great pass and then hustling back on defense to get that game changing steal or charge. I use this effort to get past the stronger or more athletic players, and make the smartest plays on the court to give my team the best opportunity to win the game. I take pride in these pieces of the game as I know these are the things that I can fully control. I know that my effort totally relates to the way my team is playing, and I know that making the best decisions can bring confidence to the rest of the team. I believe more of the flashier things about my game like the 3 pt shot, playmaking, or the array of finishes can stick out the most to some people, but I think that those who really know the game of basketball can really see me for these little things like the overflow of effort and IQ.
Which players do you model your game after?
I have never really modeled my game after any individual player. I have grown up falling in love with basketball at a very young age, and I’ve enjoyed watching so many players during that time. But I see myself as a whole different player, and have always wanted to expand my game in every way possible. Right now, I am a player who knows how to make a play off the ball getting open and hitting a shot, putting the ball on the ground and getting other people open, and someone who will put a lot of effort on the defensive side of the ball. I can score or orchestrate an offense, and I hope to improve more on the “do it all” kind of impact that I always like to bring.
What was your favorite game of your senior season and why?
There was one place that I always longed to win at in my 4 years playing high school basketball. As a freshman on the freshman St. Ignatius basketball team, our only loss came at Junipero Serra. The next year, on varsity, our young team competed hard at this same place and came up short against one of their best teams in recent history. My junior year was a year where many people favored us to win, but we lost at the buzzer by a wild three and the fans from Serra stormed the court. Senior year was the year that was going to be different. This game at Junipero Serra wasn’t any average game. This was a game against a big rival of ours, where the gym would sell out and have a lot of publicity on it. Half of the gym would be packed with students screaming and cheering. The gym would be cramped, hot, and loud along with the jungle theme it had been dressed in. I wanted this game the most because of the teams I had been on, the memories that I made there, and because of all the fun I’d had playing there over the years. Each of the two years before my senior year, we had let the seniors down that came before us. I wanted the redemption. In a game where I started off really well, we found ourselves on top in a close game where I finished with 16 points. This game meant a lot as the community came behind us, and we all grew closer to one another.
With your commitment to the University of Chicago, how exciting is it to have the opportunity to continue playing the game that you have been so dedicated to?
Basketball and school have always been on the top of my priority list. After a couple of great summers during AAU and a lot of college visits to a variety of high academic and great basketball schools, I think I found the best balance between my priorities with the University of Chicago. To play the game I’ve loved for so long is really special to me, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. And to be able to do what I love, living in a great city, and while getting a top 5 education is truly something special, beyond what I’ve ever dreamed of. Basketball has brought me closer to so many new friends and coaches, and I think that this will help me a lot in college and then moving beyond. I have had so much fun throughout the years putting my blood, sweat, and tears into this game and I could never imagine it not being a part of my everyday college life. Also, the game has opened up so many doors for me, and I am so lucky for all of it. I have a whole new chapter in my life, and I hope to really take this great opportunity as far as I can and make the most out of every day.