“It’s going to be a sweet feeling,” Beckham said. “Kentucky is my dream school. I don’t want to leave. I haven’t hung my head at all this year, just trying to stay positive through the whole process and be there for my teammates.” (h/t CoachCal.com)
Twany Beckham’s basketball career has often taken a winding path, much like the one that led him to the University of Kentucky. The Louisville native was a 3-year starter for the Ballard Bruins, averaging 16.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in his senior year. Beckham helped the Bruins to a state runner-up finish in his senior season, while garnering all-state honors. Beckham then took an extra year at the New Hampton Preparatory School, where he averaged 15 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds per-game as a 5th year player. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury liked what he saw from Beckham and offered him a scholarship to play with the Bulldogs in the SEC. “We’re excited to have Twany join our basketball program. He’s a terrific young man from a quality family, in addition to having an excellent basketball background…”
Beckham spent two full seasons with the Bulldogs. Beckham’s freshman season was spent mostly in a reserve role off the bench. Beckham then had to redshirt the following season due to having surgery on bone spurs found on both hips. Beckham played in 14 games as a redshirt sophomore before deciding to transfer after the fall semester. Beckham started in 5 of those games that season, tallying a career-best 9 points against Detroit. Both Beckham and Stansbury cited a potential lack of playing time as the key reason behind the transfer.
Rumors began to swirl that Beckham was looking to the home-state Wildcats as a potential landing spot following his transfer. Beckham visited a Kentucky practice and your very own Kentucky Sports Radio was the first to report that Beckham had officially become a Wildcat on January 18, 2011. Beckham seemed thrilled to be returning home to join John Calipari’s revived Kentucky program, even though he had to take a walk-on role and sit out almost an entire year.
“I’m a Wildcat,” Beckham happily told Evan Daniels on the day of his announcement. “This is the happiest day of my life.”
Unfortunately for Beckham, his final season as a Kentucky Wildcat has been plagued by injuries. Beckham has dealt with back issues (he had surgery on January 29th) since the pre-season and has only clocked 17 minutes in 5 games played this year. Since his arrival at Kentucky, Calipari and Beckham both seemed optimistic that he could play his way into a contributing role through his defense. Between the injuries and a host of talented guards crowding the rotation, Beckham’s expanded role for the Wildcats never really came to fruition. Sadly for Beckham, the timing of his back injury was most unfortunate. Out of all the years Beckham spent at Kentucky, with the headaches caused by some of Calipari’s young guards, Beckham might have had the opportunity to step up and play a bigger role as a veteran for this team.
By all accounts though, Twany Beckham has been an exceptional teammate and presence for Kentucky in his career as a Wildcat. While at Kentucky, Beckham was part of a Final Four and national championship team. For me, some of my favorite images and memories of Beckham were him celebrating, hugging and laughing with his teammates following Kentucky’s title run last season. No one looked happier for his teammates and friends, and the Kentucky program, than the Kentucky-native himself.
Beckham says that he will sit down to talk to Coach Cal at the end of the season to see where he stands health-wise, and discuss the possibility of continuing to play basketball. “If I can get healthy, I want to continue to play basketball.”
3 Memories/Quotes from Beckham:
1) Calipari making sure that Twany got to play a few minutes against Mississippi State, (even with a back injury) in what were likely his final minutes as a Wildcat on Rupp Arena’s floor. “It meant a lot. I’ve always admired Coach,” Beckham said. ”He cares a lot about us. When he came to me at the end of the game, I was all smiles. I didn’t know if I’d ever step on the court again. When he said that I almost sprinted up there.”
2) Twany’s Oreo McFlurry Night Cap pictures on Instagram
3) Finding out what a jerk Rick Stansbury was when he made a supposed “off-hand” comment about Twany Beckham having a “front row seat” to some good basketball.
Lasting Image of Twany as a Kentucky Wildcat:
I might have an Oreo McFlurry “nightcap” in honor of Twany Beckham tonight. You should too.
Thanks for the memories.
*Stay tuned for a Julius Mays Senior Spotlight tomorrow morning on KSR…