MILWAUKEE (AP) — MarJon Beauchamp’s circuitous path to the Milwaukee Bucks included stops at four high schools, a community college and the NBA G League.
Bucks assistant general manager Milt Newton said Beauchamp even was homeless at one point.
The Bucks believe the hard road he took to the NBA will help the 6-foot-6 wing thrive now that he’s finally made it as the 24th overall pick in the draft.
“What it tells us is he’s a fighter,” Newton said. “It doesn’t matter if he gets knocked down, i.e. maybe not playing as much as he thinks he’s going to play, or not doing as well initially. He’s going to continue to get in the gym every day and compete and work hard.”
As he heard his name get called Thursday, Beauchamp couldn’t help but think back to all the obstacles he faced along the way.
“A lot was going through my head,” Beauchamp said. “I feel like I was going through all the phases I’ve been through. Going through my head, just everything I had to sacrifice to be here today. And, man, I’m just blessed to be here. I’m just ready to grow and become a great basketball player and just keep working, because that’s all I do. I work.”
It’s not just Beauchamp’s intangibles that had the Bucks insisting they never expected him to still be around at No. 24. They also love his athleticism and his ability to defend multiple positions with his 7-foot-1 wingspan.
“We were desperately trying to move up to make sure that we could get an arrangement where we could get him, but he was there,” Newton said. “And we’re happy with that selection.”
Beauchamp shapes up to be the first opening-round pick the Bucks have kept beyond draft night since taking Donte DiVincenzo 17th overall in 2018. DiVincenzo spent 3 ½ seasons with the Bucks before getting dealt to Sacramento in February as part of the four-team trade that brought them veteran center Serge Ibaka.
Milwaukee hasn’t made much use of the draft lately as it has focused on acquiring veterans to support two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 15th overall selection in 2013.
The Bucks’ playoff roster included only two other players they drafted: 2020 second-round pick Jordan Nwora and 2021 selection Sandro Mamukelashvili.
The Bucks also have limited first-round opportunities in future years because they’ve used much of their draft capital to obtain established players.
They traded their 2023 first-round pick in the deal that helped them add P.J. Tucker for their 2021 championship run. They dealt their 2025 and 2027 first-round selections in the trade that brought them Jrue Holiday. They also have potential pick swaps with New Orleans in 2024 and 2026 resulting from the Holiday trade.
That makes it important that Beauchamp emerges as a quality player as the Bucks attempt to lengthen their championship window.
“I’m so excited,” Beauchamp said. “Playing with one of the greatest to play the game and a great team, to learn from them and to learn from Khris Middleton and all the vets they have, it’s amazing. I feel like God put me in this position to grow and to become one of them. That’s my plan, just to learn and keep growing.”
The 21-year-old Beauchamp is regarded as a strong defensive player. He averaged 15.1 points for the Ignite this season.
Beauchamp believes his time the G League will help prepare him for the NBA.
“I feel like I found myself,” Beauchamp said. “I found new ways in my game, not just on the court but off the court, building good habits and really just finding a defensive motor and learning the defensive terminology. I’d give that advice to any kid who wants to be a pro. I feel like I’m a step ahead of people coming in.”
Beauchamp came to the Ignite after averaging 30.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists at Yakima (Washington) Valley College in a pandemic-shortened season.
“We’re a defensive team, and when we can add another piece that can defend multiple positions, we think (it) is a very attractive move,” Newton said. “I think he, arguably, will be probably our – maybe outside of Giannis – most athletic guy.”
Newton said the Bucks saw Beauchamp play multiple times and brought him in twice during the pre-draft process. Newton noted that Beauchamp felt comfortable with the Bucks and said how much he wanted to be in Milwaukee.
“(He’s) a kid that is coming from a difficult background and has something to fight for,” Newton said. “And that has a lot of value with us.”
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