Sophomore Watch: James Beatty

New Hanover didn't win the state championship this year, but that's not to say they won't be a factor in the coming seasons. If they do develop into a state title squad, sophomore guard James Beatty will have a lot to do with their success.

Back in the day, James Beatty's father, James Sr., occupied a backcourt slot that Michael Jordan (yes, THE Michael Jordan) coveted. Beatty was on the varsity when M.J. was just a freshman at Wilmington (N.C.) Laney. We all know the story of Michael getting cut and all the lore that goes with it, but no one really remembers the names of the guys involved.

Now, another Beatty is making headlines but not at Laney, rather at rival New Hanover. James Beatty, a 6-foot sophomore point guard helped his team reach the Eastern Regional 4-A semifinals and in the process, raised his own stock.

"A lot of people are asking about him," New Hanover coach Linc Lyles said. "We call him J.B."

Recruiters from Wake Forest, North Carolina, North Carolina State and UNC-Wilmington have called on the young floor general. "Coaches right now, especially the ones that are not in the tournament, are wanting to come watch us workout right now," Lyles said.

The development of Beatty has been a gradual, but steady process. Always blessed with talent, according to Lyles, Beatty is now beginning to show signs of emerging as a real player. "Once the conference tournament started and the playoffs started he went to another level," Lyles said.

The native of Wilmington doesn't wow you with his scoring or off the charts athletic ability, he simply makes the game easy as passer, runs a team as an extension of the coach and is becoming to show a command of the game that is rare for young guards in his class. By no means a finished product yet, he's got a chance to be a high level player.

"He's turned into a quarterback on the court," Lyles said. "He'll run anything we want to run. To me, as a coach, that's big time."

Lyles is quick to point out that Beatty has the work ethic it's going to take in order to reach his potential. He's already seen first hand improvements in areas.

"He always wants to practice. He's the last one to leave the gym. I go back in there and he's in there working on free throws. He's a gym rat.

"Last year he was a defensive liability. [Now defense has] become an area he's taken to the next level."

At, we've got Beatty on our radar and eagerly anticipate watching him develop throughout the summer. Should he progress as expected, colleges will be making the trek to New Hanover a regular stop next season.

"I've told him that those universities will stay on you as long as you improve," Lyles said. "If you don't improve it's going to all go away."

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