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Athlete of the Week: Junior Kyle Beedon talks moving up from the end of the bench into a key role for men’s basketball

| Editor-in-Chief

Kyle Beedon drives to the basket in an early season game. (Elle Su | Student Life)

Thirty-eight seconds left in overtime against the No. 2 team in the country, and the Washington University men’s basketball team was down by two. Sophomore guard Yogi Oliff dribbled down the left wing, cut right, and then popped the ball back to a wide-open junior guard Kyle Beedon lurking behind the arc. There was no hesitation from the junior — he pivoted, popped up, and splashed a three-pointer that only hit net. Case Western Reserve University learned a lesson that WashU has known all season: watch out for Kyle Beedon. 

Beedon, who scored just 22 points in his freshman and sophomore seasons combined, has shot .419 from the 3-point range for an average of 9.4 points per game. The junior has stepped up even more for the team when it really matters — through seven conference games, he is averaging 12.6 ppg, and knocking down 3-pointers with regularity. Beedon now leads the University Athletic Association with 21 threes in conference play. The sharpshooting junior sat down with Student Life to talk about his locked-in summer, learning from older players like Jack Nolan, and advice he would give to the Student Life basketball team as they search for rec league glory.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Student Life: Let’s start with Sunday’s game because you guys beat the No. 2 team in the country. What’s working for the team out there right now?

Kyle Beedon: I mean, I would say it always starts on the defensive end for us. [Head coach Pat] Juckem really instills in us our defensive scheme. It doesn’t really vary from game to game, just minus little things like adjustments from team to team that we play. So that’s really our backbone as a team: we know that our defense is going to be constant every game. Against Case, our game plan was like, let’s try and keep these teams within a 70-point range, and that’s hopefully how we’re going to win because they’re used to scoring 80 to 90 points, and we want to keep them lower.

SL: On a team that only has a few seniors, can you talk to me about being an upperclassmen on a young team, and how you feel like your role has shifted over the past year? 

KB: Every player on our team is capable of playing. Everyone could step up when the moment is there. I think there’s talent in our team [from] top to bottom. That’s one of the reasons why I really like being a part of this team. In practice, you got guys that really want to play. That’s just not how it’s gonna go for them this year, sadly, but they’re still really good. And that’s how it was for me last year, too. I was in their shoes last year. I was like, ‘Hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity at some point,’ and you just keep working. That’s what I would always tell them: to just keep working, keep investing. And eventually, it’ll pay off.

SL: Talk a little bit about that transition for you from last season — from getting 41 minutes on the court total over two years to now being a major contributor for the entire season.

KB: I got to WashU, and I sort of initially expected to play. Jack Nolan was one of the most amazing players that I’ve ever had the opportunity to play with, and he played the same position as me. So my freshman year I was like, ‘Alright, it doesn’t really make sense that I’d be playing. It makes sense that I’m not playing.’ He was uber-talented. In the DIII basketball world, you can say that there’s an aura about him. 

SL: Some have called him the Steph Curry of DIII basketball. 

KB: Yep. And then last year, I really did think I deserved to be playing and worked really hard. I sort of kept my head down, and every practice, I attacked. I didn’t get subbed into any singular game until the last conference game last year, for the final stretch. I think I made the most out of that opportunity, and I think that carried over. I worked really hard this summer, and when I realized I’d be playing this year, I was super excited. It’s been amazing. I love competing every day. Yogi [Oliff], I would always practice with him. But this is the first year that I’m actually on the court with him. And, we both think the same way. We both really love competing. After our game on Sunday, we’re both saying, like, ‘Man, we just can’t wait for Friday at 7:30.’

SL: What happened over the summer, where you really locked into what you wanted to see come the beginning of the season in November? 

KB: I really just focused on specific things that coaches wanted us to improve on. I was working, but on my way back home from work, I would stop at 24 Hour Fitness for like, 30 minutes. And I would just do straight between-the-leg dribbles for the entirety of that time. It sounds ridiculous. But I would be working on that first step after the dribble, for explosiveness purposes, or like, I’d be working on a singular pivot until I’d go back home, and then I’ll just work on pump fakes in the mirror. It was actually kind of crazy. I was just super motivated. And I really wanted to contribute. 

SL: Was there a motivating factor from last season — maybe a feeling of unfinished business? What drove you over the summer?

KB: The truth is that I got so tired of all my friends doubting me. I was just like, ‘I’m just gonna prove all of you wrong.’ I can point to probably a dozen instances, like when a teammate’s mom didn’t know who I was. She was like, ‘Oh, do you have a brother on the team or something?’ And I was on the team. I just internalized all of that.  So, that was what really motivated me. It was proving it to myself too, so that’s the truth. But the other answer is that I want to get a natty. I want to honor Justin [Hardy] — he was a motivating factor for me as well, seeing what he went through and persevering. Jack Nolan actually just spoke to us recently about his story, and it’s super emotional. I think about Justin before I play every game. He’s always on my mind, too. So all that stuff tied together. 

SL: You talked a bit about learning from Jack Nolan. Is there anything skill-wise, playing the same position, that you feel like you picked up from him? 

KB: I’ve always admired his pivoting. You can always be a three-point shooter. But I’ve always been a pretty good shooter on my own, so it wasn’t like he taught me how to shoot. But one thing that I always watched him do is whenever he would catch the ball, he would do it in a way that he hopped off of his left or right foot in a way that his pivot foot wasn’t declared. And once again, like over the summer, in the mirror, I’d just practice the hop exactly like that. Over and over again. Now I see myself doing it, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s from Jack.’

Beedon has adjusted well to WashU’s intense defensive style. (Elaheh Khazi | Student Life)

SL: And when you were transitioning into Juckem’s program, what was hard at first? 

KB: It was definitely defense. Here, we’re a force-middle, and we’re in the gaps. At my high school, we were a force baseline team, and we would deny. Coupled with the fact that Coach is so meticulous about defense, I just was not used to that at all. This year, that’s probably the reason that in most cases, I’m actually on the court. Coach is always saying, ‘How’s your vision? How’s your stance? How’s your positioning?’ Whenever I’m playing defense, I’m always thinking about those three things. Versus as a freshman, I was out there just like in the headlights, like ‘Where am I supposed to be?’ and had no idea. I remember my first practice, we do this drill where you’re supposed to reach out and touch a cutter on the opposite side. I just didn’t do it twice in a row, and Coach just berated me. He was like ‘What are you doing?’ And I was like, ‘This is real!’

SL: We have a Student Life rec league basketball team. It’s a pretty competitive group. Do you have any advice for us as we play for rec league glory?

KB: Defense is everything. I would say try and share the ball. It’s a rec league, so it’s still fun. But passing is the key, honestly. You actually walk into a gym and people never play with each other. Here it’s more just people trying to get the ball, so it’s kind of trash basketball in some sense. A team has to be together for so long for chemistry to really form, but just have an idea of what you want to try to do defensively as a team, even if you aren’t that good of an individual defender. If you have a team that’s pretty connected, it becomes much easier, and you can just not let the other team score.

SL: Just don’t let the other team score — if only it was that easy. So you said you were a data science major. Do you have a vision for what you want to do with it after you graduate, and does that vision include basketball?

KB: I‘m interning at Maryville, so I’m gonna be here this summer. Long-term, I’m still contemplating going overseas, playing basketball for a little bit. Even if the money isn’t great, just the experience, right out of college — that’d be awesome. Also, because I have a Swiss passport, so it makes it easier for me

SL: How do you have a Swiss passport?

KB: My mom’s from Switzerland, and you don’t have to have lived there to get a passport.  But a Swiss passport can also get you a lot of places. Like Cuba. 

SL: And last question for you: would you rather have fish for hands or have to adopt a child every time you hear Bohemian Rhapsody? 

KB: Unless I wanted to start an orphanage, Bohemian Rhapsody would probably be the wrong decision. I’d have so much less dexterity. It’s hard to have fish for hands and play basketball. But, it would probably be fish for hands. 

 

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