Prospect Watch: VJ Beachem

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The San Antonio Spurs are 19-5 and looking like they’re on pace to make the playoffs yet again. That leaves them on the outside of the NBA Draft lottery looking in once again, so I’ve been looking through and trying to give some options as to who the Spurs could possibly look at in the draft. Last week’s prospect highlight was Villanova’s Josh Hart and he made me look like a genius going off for a career-high 37 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals against Notre Dame afterward.

This week’s prospect is actually someone from that losing Notre Dame team in V.J. Beachem. He’s a 6’8”, 200-pound small forward and can even play the power forward in small-ball situations. He’s a solid spot-up shooter and thanks to his long strides he gets out well in transition and gets to the rim.

He still needs to fill out a bit if he wants to be able to bang with some of the bigger forwards in the NBA, but that can be easily remedied with some time in the weight room. He’ll be able to stay in front of them though as he’s got the foot speed to move laterally. However, he is a bit timid when it comes to grabbing defensive boards and Notre Dame does not emphasize defense a whole lot in their scheme so he is not exactly a stalwart in that regard.

While Beachem may need some time and motivation on the defensive end, he has gotten better about being aggressive on offense and hunting for his own shot. That’s why his percentages have dipped a bit this season compared to last. He’s shooting about 42 percent overall (down from 47.6) and hitting a third of threes (down from 44.4 percent), but he is averaging 15.5 points per game, which is a 3.5-point improvement from last season.

His free throw attempts are also up significantly (3.6 from 1.3), signaling his willingness to take over the offense, which he hasn’t had to do the last couple years with upperclassmen leading the way. He’s also making 83 percent of those free throws so that bodes well too.

Most mock drafts have Beachem being drafted anywhere from pick 30 to 50. The Spurs might be reaching a bit taking him in the first round, but he could be useful after spending some time in Austin with the D-League Spurs. The shooting at his size would be great for the Spurs and he has the ability to take and make tough shots when needed. Notre Dame will undoubtedly be on national television several times this year, so check them out when you can and take a look at Beachem too.

Photo: Madison.com

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