Fiery Freshman

ATLANTA -- Unfazed and unfiltered, Patrick Beverley's debut was simply unforgettable.

Nov. 10, 2006, will be remembered by many as the evening Beverley unveiled a style of play that requires a bevy of adjectives to describe.

Southeast Missouri State came to Fayetteville that night and left Bud Walton Arena a 92-52 loser, wounded by a 29-point outburst from the 6-foot-1, 172-pound freshman from Chicago.

In the process, Beverley was energetic. He was electric. He was intense. He was ferocious. He was emphatic. He was encouraging. He was humble. He was appreciative. He was respectful.

He was, as Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy later described, "the whole package."

"You know what, that's just me," Beverley said. "That's who I am. I'm all of that. If I'm not that on the court, I'm not going to succeed."

Ever since, Beverley hasn't changed one bit. He hasn't tamed his charismatic personality. He hasn't subdued his on-court antics and hasn't backed down from any challenge.

As a result, numerous honors have followed over the past few days, including a Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honor awarded by the conference's coaches.

Those who closely know Beverley point out one reason for his accomplishments.

His passion.

"His energy level is unbelievable," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "I can't believe it sometimes. And he does it every day in practice, in addition to games. You almost have to wonder where it came from."

A Little 'Tasmanian Devil'

Watch an Arkansas basketball game and it's nearly impossible to be unmoved by Beverley's spirit.

He's constantly in motion, perpetually finding new ways to help the Razorbacks.

This endless vigor dates back to Beverley's toddler years. Beverley's mother, Lisa, said trips to the mall with her son were always adventurous.

Mini-basketball in tow, Patrick would run off at any time, dribbling the ball and evoking screams from his mother and grandmother.

"My mother used to call him the 'Tasmanian Devil,'" Lisa Beverley said. "You had to always keep an eye on him."

Reminded about those memories, Beverley laughed Wednesday.

He remembers growing up as the young kid in the family, always trying to match his older cousin's mobility and, eventually, athletic ability.

"Whenever he was walking, I was crawling," Patrick Beverley said. "Whenever he was running, I was walking. Whenever he was making shots, I couldn't. I was always trying to catch up. That's why I was so active growing up. I wanted to do all of the things I couldn't do. So I just tried anyway."

As the years progressed, as Beverley became more involved in sports, his current on-court personality emerged. Lisa Beverley can recall times in grade school when her son would bloody up his leg by diving for loose balls.

Years later, at Marshall High in Chicago, Beverley learned how to harness his intensity.

In fact, throughout his junior year, he lived with Marshall coach Lamont Bryant and soaked up all the knowledge he could. Beverley's father wasn't around much throughout his childhood, and Bryant provided some much-needed direction for Beverley.

"He was like a main father figure for me," Beverley said. "He taught me so many life lessons. How to be humble, how to take constructive criticism, how to be a complete person.

"He also taught me how to play the game with emotion."

Toeing The Line

Beverley draws from that advice every time he puts each of his arms through his Arkansas uniform. He leaves everything on the court.

His teammates notice Beverley's desire and draw from his hunger.

"Seriously, when Patrick's drawing charges or jumping out of bounds for balls or screaming toward the crowd, that gets us fired up," Arkansas junior Sonny Weems said. "Honestly, I'm getting fired up just thinking about it right now."

That brash attitude has nearly gotten Beverley in trouble several times.

In Arkansas' victory over LSU on Jan. 20, Beverley refused to back down from Glen "Big Baby" Davis, the Tigers' 300-pound center. Davis shoved an Arkansas player, and Beverley snapped back at Davis, standing up for his teammate.

"That kind of reminded me of the way Patrick was in high school," Bryant said. "He'd do anything for his teammates then. And I can see he's the same way now."

If that scene didn't prove Beverley's loyalty, then his reaction to Arkansas' recent scuffle in a victory over Mississippi State did.

Eight days ago, Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin drove into the lane and drew a hard foul from Mississippi State's Charles Rhodes. Ervin and Rhodes got into a brief shoving match. And Beverley came out of nowhere, darting to Ervin's side, yelling not-so-nice words at Rhodes and pointing his finger at the 6-foot-8 forward.

"That just shows me he's got a lot of pride in this team," Ervin said.

Recent happenings have revealed his self-esteem, and antics, aren't limited to on-court issues.

He called out Illinois' coach in recent articles in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, still miffed by being snubbed by his home state's main school. He said, "Holler at Bruce Weber for me, and tell him I told you so."

Last Saturday, annoyed after an Arkansas columnist had taken a jab at his English skills, Beverley emerged from the Hogs' locker room at Vanderbilt with a sarcastic message.

"Ya'll tell (him) I say, 'What up,'" Beverley said.

Whether it's on the court or on the podium, Beverley continues to show he has no fear.

Showing Emotion, Respect

To be sure, Beverley is unafraid of exuding enthusiasm or acting bashful.

In reference to the former, he has seemingly trademarked a number of different positive reactions.

Beverley's on-court shenanigans include repeated clapping, undirected screaming and intense face-making. He points toward the Arkansas student section. He waves towels when on the bench. He pounds his chest after dunks. He smacks the floor. He chest-bumps teammates.

He does anything that fuels his own intensity.

"I've just always been like that," Beverley said. "I just don't feel right out there if I'm not acting kind of crazy."

Heath wouldn't exactly refer to Beverley's conduct as crazy. But he was a little taken aback last January when he traveled to Chicago to see Beverley play for the first time. Beverley had withdrawn his commitment to Toledo, and Heath was hoping to steal him away from other late suitors.

That night, Marshall took on arch-rival Crane High. Its point guard was Sherron Collins, a Kansas recruit who could make the Big 12's all-freshman team.

Beverley dominated the game, scoring more than 30 points and repeatedly oozing emotion. Heath remembers fist-pumps and trash-talk and floor-slaps.

"I knew we had to get him, right then and there," Heath said. "He's the kind of player you can build a team around."

The other element of his persona speaks directly to that opinion.

Beverley has immense respect for the game of basketball and for those who have come before him. Before every game, Beverley cleans the bottoms of his shoes and walks around the court.

He shakes the hand of each referee and then makes his way to the opposing bench. He puts out his hand, smiles and says, "Patrick Beverley."

Opposing coaches, such as Kentucky's Tubby Smith, have marveled at his presence.

"For him to come up and introduce himself to me before the game and to say how much of an honor it was after the game to play against Kentucky and against me, that makes him a special kid," Smith said.

Staying Power

A breakdown has seemed inevitable but has never surfaced.

Through Arkansas' 30-game schedule, Beverley has been unrelenting. He has refused to ease up. Through it all, he has averaged a team-high 34.3 minutes per game.

But even though he never went through the grind of AAU ball, Beverley hasn't shown any ill effects. He looks just as chipper now as he did on opening night.

"If you would've asked me a week or two ago, I may have told you he was starting to tire," Heath said. "But now, he's back to where he was. It's amazing he's played as many minutes as he had and still done the things he's done."

The exacts of his season-long performance are astounding.

He ranks among the SEC's top 30 players in eight categories. Only Vanderbilt's Derrick Byars and LSU's Davis place that high in eight categories.

Beverley's in the top 10 in five categories. He's fifth in steals, second in free-throw percentage, sixth in 3-point percentage, ninth in 3-point goals per game and fourth in minutes played.

"He's so consistent," Ervin said. "Every night, every game, he's there for us."

If the Razorbacks hope to mount a run to the NCAA Tournament, they know Beverley must produce.

That's a lot of pressure to heap onto an 18-year-old. But Bryant figures Beverley is up to the task.

He knew days like this would come for Beverley, who snuck his way into Marshall's gymnasium as often as possible.

"His passion for the game is just incredible, and that's why he's going to play basketball for a long, long time," Bryant said. "For some people, work ethic just comes naturally. And with this kid, it did. The first couple of days I knew him, he was in the gym shooting, shooting and shooting some more.

"He's intense about basketball. All the time."


Position: Shooting guard

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 172 pounds

Hometown: Chicago, Ill.

High School: Marshall

Notables: Averages team-highs of 14.3 points and 34.3 minutes per game. ... Named SEC Newcomer of the Year by the conference's media on Tuesday and SEC Freshman of the Year and second-team all-SEC by the conference's coaches on Wednesday. ... Ranks as the SEC's top freshman in scoring, steals, 3-point percentage, free-throw percentage and minutes played. ... While at Marshall, scored 40 or more points nine times and 30 or more 18 times.

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