GBW Road Trip: Patrick Beverley - Part One

GoBlueWolverine hit the road for Chicago yesterday to check out Marshall high school Patrick Beverley in action on the hardwood. His battle with Kansas commit Sherron Collins drew college coaches from all over the country, including Michigan's Tommy Amaker. When the dust settled, Beverley had led his to an 81-70 victory, and impressed everyone in the gym with broad range of skills along the way.

Chicago Marshall combo guard Patrick Beverley has been putting up the kind of numbers this season that cannot be ignored. When you average 36 points, six assists, and five rebounds, people are going to notice. Originally a commitment to Stan Joplin's Toledo program, Beverley re-opened his recruitment last fall, and a number of programs, (including Michigan), have jumped into the fray.

The buzz surrounding this young man has been considerable in recent months. All of the talk of how good he is caught many by surprise, including us here at GoBlueWolverine. Hearing comments like, "he looks like a top 50 player in the class of 06," certainly piqued our curiosity, but they were also very confusing. How does a player that good go unnoticed by anyone on the summer circuit?'s Dave Telep shed light on the issue.

"Last summer, Beverley got the idea to try out for ”The Battlegrounds” series and that move kept him out of AAU action for the most part,"'s National Recruiting Director said. "If you didn’t catch him early in the spring with Mean Streets you missed your chance. As it turns out, the reason most hadn't witnessed his game is because he didn't participate on the summer circuit much last year."

That was obviously a problem for GoBlueWolverine because discussing prospects that we've never seen before and relying only upon second hand reports is something we avoid whenever possible. When we got word that Beverley would be squaring off with Kansas commitment Sherron Collins again after hanging 33 on the future Jayhawk in an early season win…we knew a road trip to Chi-town to see him for ourselves was in order.

Word of this grudge match between these two city rivals was far reaching, as evidenced by the number of college coaches in the crowd. Tommy Amaker was the first to show up, taking a seat at the very top of the gymnasium so he could get a birds-eye view of the talented prospect. Next to arrive was Mike Davis with one of his assistants a little while later. Then Arkansas head man Stan Heath made his entrance shortly before the tip. There were also assistants from Kansas, Iowa, and number of other schools in the house. Those of them that came to see Beverley didn't leave disappointed.

In Amaker's first in-person viewing of Beverley's game, the young man had 29 points, six assists and four steals to lead Marshall to an 81-70 victory. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he not been saddled with four fouls for much of the second half. Collins may have won the scoring battle this time around (with 36 points on what looked to be more shots than many of his teammates combined), but Beverley was the better and more efficient player.

The first thing you notice about the young man his joy on the floor. He just looks like a kid that loves to play the game. In pre game warm-ups he was as amped up as the crowd…constantly jumping around and smiling. That smile might be his calling card since it hardly ever leaves his face. Ironically, that may be part of what frustrates his opponents so much. More on that later.

As far as his game goes…make no mistake about it…this kid is good. It didn't take long for him to show the excellent range on his jumpshot. His third of attempt of the contest was a long range bomb that found nothing but the bottom of then net. That, however, was just a sign of things to come. He rained in three after three (six by our un-official count) over the flailing arms of the Crane defense. He pulled up in transition, knocked them down off of screens, and even delivered with hands in his face.

On the other end of the floor, Beverley was just as effective. On one of Crane's fastbreak opportunities in the first half he was the only man back on a two-on-one, but he took care of business. He nullified the attempt by leaping high into the air and pinning the ball on the backboard, much to the amazement of the crowd. That willingness to play defense with just as much vigor as he does offense was the aspect of his game that really impressed GoBlueWolverine's Andre Barthwell the most.

"The biggest thing I liked was how does it on both ends of the floor," Barthwell said. "And he does it with unbridled enthusiasm. You can clearly see he is a leader. He keeps his teammates constantly involved in the game. He is always checking on their mindset…telling the 'Come on!' They draw a lot of security from him being on the floor. He reassures them. When Crane cut it to one late in the game…he told his teammates, 'it's all right.' Then he went down and knocked down a three! He did that all night. As far his basketball skills go, he can go left or right, and he takes it to the rack with a purpose. He has a picture perfect looking jump shot. Overall he is a very good basketball player. If he were in the state of Michigan right now, he would be the #1 guard in the 2006 class."

Another trait that was extremely evident was how this kid plays without fear. Beverley has that edge…that "DOG" that is going to make some team very very happy. It's hard to measure intangibles, but any scale would reveal that this kid has a ton of them. The game was physical and you had to have a certain level of toughness just to play in it. Crane ran two players at Beverley the entire game…and those two players weren't just trying to put a hand IN his face. They were trying to put a hand ON his face. They didn't hesitate to him on his behind a couple of times. But that didn't deter him. Though only 6-2 and 175-pounds, Beverley is wiry strong. He kept taking the ball to the hole, and kept absorbing the pounding. Most times when he was knocked down, he just got up and flashed his ever present smile. However, when the fouls appeared malicious, he made sure he let the opposition know about it. As he was walking away to his bench after a Crane timeout, one of their players had a few choice words for Beverley. The young man stopped, turned around, stepped to the Crane player and said, 'what did you say to me?' The referee was there to run interference, so nothing came of it...but that wasn't the end of it. Later on, Beverley and Collins got into it causing the ref to assess technicals. When he brought the two players together to calm the situation down…all the two players would do was glare at one another. Beverley's point was clear; backing down wasn't an option for him

As good as Beverley looked Thursday night, it was also clear that college ball will require an adjustment from him. He has a great feel for the game, but he will have adapt to a more structured system at the next level. He will also have to be more cognizant of the balance between his own offense and that of his teammates. That said, neither of those should be a problem according to Barthwell.

"He's never out of control," Barthwell said. "It's just that his team plays so up and down that things are often forced or hurried when they're not there. He has some rough edges that will need to be smoothed out, but he is also a kid that you have to let go. To put the clamps on a kid like him would be a crime. He'll be fine as long as he goes to a school that won't stunt his creativity."

To uncover a prospect of this caliber at this late stage is very rare. This Chi-town product actually has more ability then any of the point guards the Wolverines were in serious contention for in past year. His ball-handling skills a little bit south of Kalin Lucas', but he certainly handles the ball well enough to be a primary ball-handler in college. His shooting ability isn't quite as deft as Scottie Reynolds', but he definitely has a good stroke. And finally, he is every bit the scoring assassin that Tory Jackson is, but he is three inches taller and has a better vertical. Combine those attributes with his excellent play on the defensive end and you have a prospect that looks to be best of the four.

Colleges would keep lining up to court Beverley if he let them. At this point, though, it doesn't look like he will. Even the instate-school Illinois will be prevented from taking a spot in line. "It's all over for Illinois--I'm not going there," Beverley told the Chicago Tribune after the game. "It will be one of the five schools who have made offers--Indiana, Michigan, Arkansas, St. John's and Virginia. I have four official visits left, so I'll have to cut out one more school."

Beverley considered making a visit to Michigan this weekend, but recently decided not to when his coach made it clear he wanted his star pupil to focus on the remainder of the season. Once it has concluded, the Maize and Blue will surely try to position itself for a visit shortly thereafter. Then it will just be a matter of keeping their fingers crossed like the other three finalists on his trimmed down list.

Be sure to check back for more on Patrick Beverley, including interviews, in the coming days.

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