V.J. Beachem Getting His Senior Moment

Credit - NCAA

Credit – NCAA

By Regina Robinson,

There was a storm of jaw-dropping deals, trades and rookie signings in the NBA last week, but senior forward V.J. (full name Victor Eric) Beachem didn’t have a care in the world. The 6-8, 200-pound forward had already withdrawn his name from NBA consideration two months ago.

“Thankful for the opportunity to experience the NBA Draft process and invites to workout for teams but now I’m ready to lead (Notre Dame). #IMBACK,” Beachem tweeted in May.

Beachem, who averaged 12 points and 3.9 rebounds last year, gets to play out his senior year with Notre Dame because of the new NCAA regulation that allows a student-athlete to declare for the draft, and then return to school if that student has not hired an agent.

There’s more rhetoric to the rule, but the bottom line for head coach Mike Brey, who encouraged Beachem to test the NBA waters, is that the Irish will have an experienced leader on the floor for the 2016-17 season. “I think he’s really continued on with great confidence (since declaring for the draft),” Brey said via telephone on his way back to South Bend, Ind., for an early morning workout (and then on to an extensive recruiting road trip).

Notre Dame is going to need some of the younger players to step up as well, says Brey. The roster is a little short after losing Zach Auguste (senior) and Demetrius Jackson (selected by the Boston Celtics in the second round). Brey added that sophomores Rex Pflueger and Matt Ryan, who saw action last season in major games, should be ready for the challenge.

The biggest challenge I discussed with coach Brey was getting the Irish back to the postseason. He says Beachem, along with fellow veteran teammates, Steve Vasturia, and Austin Torres, are talking up this goal already.

“We’d love to go back, but it’s hard to get a bid; that’s a decision that’s out of our league,” Brey said. “(V.J.) has always been quiet, but he is being aggressive, very vocal, all the things he knows as he’s progressing people are looking at,” he added. “So I don’t have to say a word when you have them saying it. That’s better than hearing it from me.”

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