Patrick Beverley’s Journey to the Miami Heat
Patrick Beverley has had one lifelong goal – to play in the NBA.
After a trying, vindicating, tumultuous, and encouraging 21 years of life, his dream might just be drawing near.
The Early Years
Patrick was born to Lisa Beverley, a 17-year-old single mother, on the west side of Chicago.
As a child, he never met his biological father, Patrick Bracy, a local hoops star in his own youth. His only enduring connection to his father was his old high school basketball trophies that were always lying around. He revered them, claiming early on that he wanted twice the number of trophies his dad got.
The inner city of Chicago is a gritty place, with some of the highest levels of poverty in the United States. The area has been neglected for decades. Public schools are crumbling, store fronts are vacant, apartment buildings are dilapidated, graffiti covers the walls, windows are boarded up with bars on them, trash litters the sidewalks, and weeds sprout through the concrete. Basketball is often seen as the only way out, not just for young kids with talent but also for their parents and siblings. Developing talent is encouraged from a young age. It’s often seen as the only thing that matters.
The playgrounds of Chicago have long been a hoops hotbed. Derrick Rose is the latest in a long line of Chicago-raised NBA royalty. Before Rose, there was Dwyane Wade. Before Wade, there was Antoine Walker. Before Walker, there was Isaiah Thomas. Before Isaiah, there was Maurice Cheeks.
But no matter how skilled a kid may be, the odds are still stacked against him using his talent to bust out. For an inner city kid in Chicago to make it big, he first needs to make it out. If the west side of Chicago was its own city, it’d be the deadliest and most violent in all of America. Crime, murder and gang activity are a way of life. Then there’s the more innocuous stuff that can kill a dream, like drug addiction, teenage parenthood and abandonment.
At first, Lisa was hesitant about letting Patrick grow up in that kind of lifestyle. She didn’t want the inner city school life for her son. She figured he wasn’t tough enough. So she moved him out to the suburbs.
Beverley attended Granger Middle School for 8th grade and then played his freshman and sophomore years of high school at Waubonsie Valley. Both are public schools located in Aurora, a western suburb about an hour outside of Chicago.
But Patrick was pushing for better competition. He wasn’t all that focused on school work. He wanted to see if he was good enough to play the game in a real way. Lisa took a chance, and moved him back into the inner city, where he transferred to John Marshall Metropolitan High School, which competes in the Red-West division of the Chicago Public League (CPL) and is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), to start his junior season. Beverley now found himself playing amongst some of toughest competition in the state.
It was an unusual path. There have been plenty of stories about high school basketball players leaving the inner city to prosper in the suburbs. Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas is just one example. The Catholic private schools are largely responsible for that, plucking talented children from the playgrounds and then playing God with their lives – keeping one enrolled, discarding the other. For Beverley, though, it was just the opposite.
Beverley quickly became the best player on his Marshall team. He was an incredible scorer. In his junior season, he averaged 26 points per game in leading the Commandos to a 28-3 record.
Despite the success, big time college recruiters were initially ambivalent. Beverley had shunned all the high-profile national summer exposure camps to work on improving his game (and have some fun – even appearing on an MTV2 special). If you weren’t on the summer AAU circuit, starring in the camps of one of the major shoe companies (Nike, Adidas, Reebok, etc.), or going to the big events, it was difficult for anybody to find you. So he flew under the radar of national recruiting gurus and scouting services. He wasn’t on any of the lists for national all-star games.
Through the first three years of high school, the only college program to display any kind of interest was the University of Toledo, a mid-major school. He verbally committed to the Rockets during his junior season.
But Beverley wanted more. He wanted to play in a league with athletes on his level. It was all a means to an end for him. In order to grab the attention of NBA scouts, he needed the exposure of a major Division I college program. So he re-opened his recruitment prior to the start of his senior year. He needed a sensational season to turn some heads.
Half-way through his senior season, Beverley was still not impressed with any of his offers. Despite blowing up in the CPL, dominating some very good players in the process, and leading his team to a 13-1 record – the lone loss a one-point heartbreak in which Beverley scored 41 – he still wasn’t getting the exposure he needed. National Signing Day had already passed by two months prior.
His first major opportunity came on January 10, 2006 against Marshall’s biggest rival, the Crane Cougars, in a battle for inner-city bragging rights. Beverley and Sherron Collins headlined the showdown as the then-heavyweights. Collins (eventual KU national champion, now 2010 NBA draft hopeful) had previously exploded at Nike Camp, and was considered the second best Class of 2006 point guard in the country by Scout.com (behind Ty Lawson) and one of the two best Class of 2006 basketball prospects in the state of Illinois (along with Jon Scheyer). He was king of the west side. Now Beverley had risen, challenging for the role.
With his career on the line, Beverley scored 33 points in helping his team to a second-half comeback win, 74-70. Marshall earned the No. 1 ranking in the state, according to the weekly AP poll, for the first time ever.
Marshall carried the No. 1 ranking all the way into the CPL playoffs, having won 19 straight games. For the first time since 1991, it had a chance at winning the city championship. However, in the fourth round, Marshall was stunned by a Washington team it had beaten earlier in the season by 20 points, despite a 37-point effort by Beverley. Marshall’s regular season was over, at 25-2.
Beverley’s team no longer had the opportunity to win the CPL championship, but now they were gunning for the state championship. Marshall finished the regular season ranked fourth in the state, which earned them a No. 1 seed in their Super-Sectional bracket of the 256-team IHSA Illinois State Tournament. The winner of each of the 8 brackets was to advance to the Elite Eight, a two-day three-round tournament to be held on March 17-18, 2006 at Carver Arena in Peoria to determine the state champion.
With the season coming to an end, Beverley was running out of time to prove himself. At this point, any losses during sectional qualifying would end Beverley’s season and almost certainly relegate him to the depths of a mid-major college. He needed to sweep through two Regionals match-ups, two Sectionals match-ups, and a Super-Sectional match-up to win the bracket and advance to Peoria.
With the stage set, Beverley and his Marshall team ripped through to the Super-Sectional, in the process avenging its one-point loss to Lincoln Park in the fourth game of the season as well as taking out Sherron Collins and Crane for a third consecutive time, before demolishing a Loyola Academy team led by Jeffrey Jordan (son of the MJ himself), 83-61, with the elder Jordan in attendance.
Marshall had secured a spot in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1991. That brought legitimacy. Marshall was now recognized as one of elite teams in the country, not just the state.
It brought legitimacy for Beverley as well. He was respected now, considered one of the top as-yet uncommitted players in the country. Division 1 scouts were starting to circle.
Beverley traveled 165 miles downstate with his teammates to Peoria for the tournament.
They won their quarterfinal match-up against then-undefeated Edwardsville, 65-54. That night, due to budgetary constraints, Marshall players were forced to sleep five to a room in their hotel.
In the semifinal the following day, Marshall was to face a Simeon team which had gotten past Glenbrook North, led by Duke commit Jon Scheyer. Simeon featured Class of 2007 point guard Derrick Rose, who was a class behind Beverley despite being less than three months younger. Earlier in the year, Beverley’s Marshall team had beaten Rose’s Simeon team by a whopping 78-56 final score, with Beverley scoring 36 points to Rose’s 19.
This time around, Marshall lost 69-56. Rose scored 21 points to Beverley’s 19.
The team was relegated to the third-place consolation game against Thornwood, from which Beverley was disqualified by his head coach for a pre-game fight with a teammate, seemingly ending his high school career. However, with the scored tied midway through the second quarter, Beverley was allowed back in the game. By the end, it was an 85-60 blowout win. Despite playing only 16 minutes, Beverley had scored 33 points to seal not only the victory but also his chance at getting a big time scholarship offer.
During his senior year, Beverley scored 40+ points on seven different occasions, and had a stretch of games whereby he led Marshall to wins in games against teams featuring the #1-ranked basketball prospects in the state of Illinois for the Class of 2006, 2007 and 2008. He finished his senior season averaging 32 points (#1 in the state, ahead of Scheyer, who averaged 29, Collins, who averaged 26, and Rose, who averaged 20), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals, and was named to the 2005-06 Associated Press Class AA All-State First Team (along with Scheyer, Collins, Rose and Brian Carlwell). He shot 56% from the field, 45% from three-point range and 90% from the free throw line. He led his team to a third-place finish in the state, with a 32-3 record.
When it was all over, he was ranked the No. 59 prospect in the nation and the No. 14 shooting guard by Scout.com, and the No. 65 prospect in the nation and No. 10 point guard by Rivals.com.
Beverley had frequently told reporters throughout his senior season that he wanted to attend the University of Illinois, and was waiting for a scholarship offer. It never came.
One problem apparently was that Illinois coach Bruce Weber was holding off on making a scholarship offer until the Illini could determine if Beverley was an academic qualifier. He had requested a copy of Beverley’s transcript, something his mother only provided to schools after a scholarship offer was made, but was denied. Beverley had met NCAA academic criteria for eligibility, with a 17 ACT score and a 2.7 grade point average. Weber, however, wanted the transcript. He also wanted Beverley to visit the campus, in hopes of getting to know him better and to see how he would get along with his potential teammates. Beverley had been revealed as an incredible scorer, but also as someone who dominated the ball and sometimes played out of control. He was also known as a incredible defender, but on a team that exclusively played a zone defense; his man-to-man defensive abilities were therefore untested. Weber had some reservations as to whether such attributes would work in his system.
These formalities, however, masked what Beverley believed to be the real issue. The Illini had received a commitment from prized class of 2007 shooting guard Eric Gordon of Indianapolis (who ultimately chose lndiana), and had further set their sights on Rose (who ultimately chose Memphis). That made Illinois’ pursuit of Beverley a chase for redundancy.
Arizona State, Arkansas, Depaul, Florida State, Georgetown, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Purdue, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington, and Washington State all reportedly made scholarship offers.
It was vindication for Beverley.
“I’ve shown it’s possible for anybody to earn a scholarship without having your name in those rankings or going to a big-time camp,” he said. “People second-guessed me, but I knew I’d have a good senior year.”
Somewhat surprisingly, he signed a letter of intent with Arkansas on April 19, 2006, choosing the Razorbacks in a close decision over Michigan.
The College Years
Playing time was a critical factor in Beverley’s decision.
The Razorbacks were just coming off their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001. The season before Beverley’s arrival, Arkansas went 22-10 overall and was bounced in the first round in a heart-breaking loss to Bucknell. Ronnie Brewer led that team, but left for the June 2006 draft after his junior year (to be selected by the Utah Jazz). In all, Arkansas had lost its top four guards.
The backcourt void the next season allowed Beverley to come in and take over immediately. Along with (now Toronto Raptor) Sonny Weems and 7-footer (and former OKC Thunder player) Steven Hill, Beverley led the Hogs to a 21-14 season. He led the team in points (13.9), steals (1.7), and 3-point percentage (38.6%), and was second in assists (3.1) and third in rebounding (4.5). This earned him SEC Freshman of the Year, second team All-SEC, and first team freshman All-American honors and put him on the watch lists as a candidate for both the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy – as a freshman!
The former Marshall star had became a star for Arkansas, but by extension, that meant he was not doing anything for Illinois – a reality not lost upon him.
“For real,” Beverley told reporters. “Y’all need to holler at [Illinois coach] Bruce Weber, too, man. Tell him, `I told you so.’”
The comment careened toward the uncontrolled intersection of youth, bravado and bitterness.
Beverley was asked to clarify if he had truly meant for this jab at the Illini coach to escape into the confines of fiber-optic cable and oversized newspaper.
“I want that in the paper,” Beverley said, then emphasizing his next three words like an exasperated parent commanding a defiant toddler: “Tell. Bruce. Weber: Does he still doubt me? I want that in the paper.”
Despite the successful season, the Razorbacks were knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament by a USC team led by Nick Young and Taj Gibson that made it to the sweet sixteen.
Arkansas coach Stan Heath was fired on March 26 after losing in the NCAA Tournament’s first round for a second consecutive season. On April 2, he was named head coach at the University of South Florida.
The news hit Beverley hard. There was speculation that Beverley could join him.
“I love it here at Arkansas, but it’s going to be hard for me to play for somebody else,” Beverley told the Chicago Tribune. “I want to finish up strong in my classes so there won’t be any problems if I have to transfer.
“[Heath] is just a good dude who gave me a lot of leeway and allowed me to play my game. That’s the kind of coach I like to play for. The new coach may not let me play my game.
“I’m going to wait until a new coach is named here and then my mom will come down and we’ll meet with the coach and athletic director [Frank Broyles],” he said. “I realize if I decide to transfer, [then] Arkansas has to let me out of my scholarship.”
According to NCAA rules, a transfer would have forced Beverley to sit out the entire 2007-08 season. He chose to stay.
Controversy then set in for Beverley during his sophomore year.
A woman named Tumeka Williams filed a paternity lawsuit in Washington County Circuit Court in Arkansas in December 2007, alleging Beverley was the father of her 7-month-old son and seeking child support payments. The lawsuit requested that the court order Beverley to pay current and back child support and provide proof of his income, including money from sports advertising or payments received from agents.
Birth announcements submitted to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Times indicated that Williams had a baby boy on May 10, 2007, but that the person listed as the father was not Beverley. But Patrick went on to admit he was the father of the child, named Everett, and that he had a moral and legal obligation to support the child. However, he vehemently denied any compensation for sports advertising or from agents. Any such benefits for a college athlete would have been in violation of NCAA rules.
Beverley fathered a second child in September 2007, this time a girl named Adlaia.
On the court, Beverley took a slight step backwards in his sophomore season under new head coach John Pelprhey. Only one major statistic received a boost his sophomore season: rebounding. He went from averaging 4.5 rebounds a game (impressive in its own right for a diminutive guard) to an impressive team-high 6.6 per game.
During the NCAA tournament, Beverley took on Jordan Crawford (prior to his Xavier transfer) and Eric Gordon in the first round as the Hogs defeated Indiana 86-72. Beverley held both to an abysmal 3-20 combined shooting from the floor. Unfortunately, in the second round, the Razorbacks found themselves on the wrong side of Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough as they were overmatched and totally demolished in the first second round appearance in the NCAA tournament for the University of Arkansas since 1999.
Rumors of a possible transfer to the University of South Florida then again surfaced for a second consecutive year in April when Beverley, after having difficulty in adapting to the system of coach Pelprhey, wrote “I’m leaving” on his Facebook page. He was reportedly ready to transfer, and sit out the 2008-09 season. His mother, though, would not allow it, and Beverley again remained with the Hogs.
More controversy then ensued for Beverley in August 2008, prior to his junior season.
Beverley was embroiled in an academic fraud fiasco that ended with him confessing to turning in a paper written by a tutor. Several Arkansas students were suspected in the scandal – ESPN reported that the issues were connected to fraudulent papers written for players on the basketball team – though Beverley was the only one caught. He would later say that he wasn’t acting out of desperation. Rather, it was out of youthfulness. He said it wasn’t motivated by a desire to improve his grades, but rather that a person volunteered to do his paper and he just figured he wouldn’t get caught. It was an interesting admission, considering the NCAA was at the time investigating whether Derrick Rose had cheated on his SAT exam.
Beverley was suspended from Arkansas basketball for his entire junior season, though he initially remained a member of the team and his name was still listed on the team’s roster on the school’s athletic website.
It was too late in the year for the NBA draft, and his draft prospects would be too uncertain anyway. Faced with the options of either staying away from basketball for a year or trying to earn money as a professional, Beverley chose the latter.
The Pro Years
Professionally, Beverley could either seek a European deal or go to the D-League.
The D-League was the original plan. The D-League model was enticing because of the way in which former guard Mike Taylor, a dismissed Iowa State star from the year before, used it as the path to a second round draft pick. But then an opportunity arose for Beverley to work with Bob Donewald, the former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant who was coaching the BC Dnipro team in the Ukraine. Beverley felt that was the quickest way to learn the NBA game.
So, instead of waiting out the suspension, he got himself an agent and shipped off to Europe to hone his skills. He signed a one-year contract worth “just over six figures” with Dnipro. The contract had no buyout, freeing Beverley to leave after the season without penalty.
Lisa moved to the Ukraine with her son, their first trip overseas. It was difficult for Patrick to adjust to a new country, different language, an apartment that didn’t always have adequate heat or a working TV. But he had no problems adjusting on the court.
Over the course of 46 games, Beverley averaged 16.7 points (45.0 FG%, including 38.0 3PT%), 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals. For his efforts, Beverley was selected to the Ukrainian All Star game, and also won the slam dunk competition.
Beverley also got the chance to mature. He said that playing professionally overseas had “opened [his] eyes to the real world…and it finally clicked. I understand where I need to go, and I needed to grow up.”
Playing with older veterans helped his personal development. On this point, Beverley quipped “I had a guy on my team who was 38. That’s the same age as my mom…I think me being around that setting forced me to become a better man and better player on and off the court. I now understand the life of a pro.”
After all of that, Beverley decided to enter the 2009 NBA Draft.
Upon returning to the States, Beverley was still considered a long shot to be drafted. He was too small – 6 feet, 1.5 inches in shoes – to be a shooting guard and didn’t have the proper tools to be a point guard. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford had Beverley ranked as the 49th-best prospect in the draft. Several mock drafts didn’t include Beverley in either round.
In less than a month, Beverley changed people’s minds.
“I had two great workouts with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls,” Beverley said a few weeks before the draft. “The Miami Heat one was off the charts. My Chicago Bulls’ one was off the charts.
“I was definitely under the radar. People are now saying like, ‘Man, he can really play. He’s a pro.’ I heard before I would probably go undrafted, maybe late second round. After the Miami workout, ‘Maybe mid-second round.’ After the Bulls’ workout, ‘He’s definitely a first-rounder.’”
On draft night, the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with their second round pick (No. 42 overall). Watching from his television with his family, Beverley celebrated with his loved ones. Twenty minutes later, he learned he had been traded by the Lakers to the Heat in exchange for a 2011 second round pick and $1.5 million in cash considerations.
Beverley and fellow 2009 Heat draftee Robert Dozier (No. 60 overall) spent the entire summer working out with the Heat organization. Roster issues gave Dozier and Beverley long odds to make the Heat roster.
Dozier spent time at both small forward and power forward during the Heat’s summer camp, at times outplaying incumbent Heat veteran Dorell Wright. However, on August 10, after it became clear that he would not make the Heat‘s regular season roster, Dozier signed a one-year deal with Colossus Rhodes, a team in Greece’s first division.
Beverley, however, remained steadfast in his commitment to his lifelong dream.
“Everything’s up to Pat right now,” he said at the time of the Dozier signing.
On August 26, Beverley finally acquiesced, signing a two-year, €420,000 contract (worth about $600,000 at the time of signing) with European powerhouse Olympiakos, of the Greek League.
Olympiakos was about as close to being on an NBA roster as it gets without actually being on an NBA roster. The team not only had returning NBA veteran Josh Childress, but that summer also added NBA veterans Linas Kleiza and former Florida State standout Von Wafer. Beverley took the place of veteran NBA point guard Jannero Pargo, who went on to sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Beverely just finished his first season with Olympiakos yesterday. In a reserve role behind starting point guard and Euroleague MVP Milos Teodosic, he averaged 3.9 points (55.7 FG%, 29.0 3PT%), 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.3 blocks in 41 games across Greek League and Euroleague play. His game has been characterized by an incredible motor, boundless energy, and exceptional defensive pressure. Offensively, he has an explosive game with a developing three-point shot but, having played virtually his entire life at the two position, he still has yet to master the role of a point guard (the only position he’d be capable of playing at the NBA level).
While Beverley signed what Olympiakos termed a two-year agreement, he is expected to again be available to the Heat for the 2010-11 season. By rule, the Heat have retained Beverley’s draft rights, which could be of benefit next season, when the Heat figures to spend most of its salary cap space to re-sign Dwyane Wade and add an A-list free agent, possibly two, therefore likely to be left with only minimal remaining cap space and minimum salary exceptions.
Perhaps in a few months, Patrick Beverley’s lifelong dream of playing in the NBA will come true – perhaps playing alongside future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.