For more on the all-stars, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.
So here is V.J. Beachem, 180 lean pounds stretched over a 6-6 frame, recognizing that size matters, and that more strength and added pounds are critical if he wants to thrive at the elite college level.
The New Haven standout is committed to Notre Dame (Class of 2013), and faces a future diet of bruising Big East battles. Gentleness is fine for, say, dealing with puppies. It has no chance against the likes of Louisville, Georgetown and more.
The problem -- when does Beachem find time given a never-ending run of basketball commitments with his Eric Gordon All-Stars travel team, his high school squad and, in the last two days, the Indiana Junior All-Stars’ two-game series with Kentucky?
“I usually lift the day right after I play or right after a tournament,” he said. “That’s a little trick the Notre Dame staff told me about. I usually lift Mondays and Wednesdays. Tournaments usually end on Sundays. Sometimes, I’ll have a Friday, or even a Sunday, too.”
Sunday works today because his Junior All-Star commitment ended with Saturday night’s 81-71 loss to Kentucky at North Oldham High School outside of Louisville. It gave Indiana a split over their neighbors, which meant they couldn’t duplicate the efforts of the Indiana Senior All-Stars, who swept both games against Kentucky.
Beachem stressed Indiana’s Friday night victory came from defense, even though it won 126-103, which suggests defense was low on the priority list.
And yet …
“It was defense and rebounding,” he said. “We started playing better defense, better helpside. Getting out on break, getting a lot of transition buckets. Defense was the key. Defense is the key every game. We started playing better defense and got the lead.”
The defense actually was better on Saturday, but the result was different. The furious uptempo pace that produced so many points in the first game, slowed down, which worked to Kentucky’s benefit.
Beachem followed up his 13-point effort on Friday night with seven points, three rebounds and two assists at North Oldham.
What was it like to be a junior All-Star? It was an honor, Beachem said, that didn’t involve much practice time. Players met for one brief workout before playing their first exhibition game against the Indiana Senior All-Stars.They had a short shoot-around on Friday. They had another one before Saturday night’s game.
Beachem is putting in the mileage. He had to travel to Indianapolis for Friday’s game at Heritage Christian, and then on to Kentucky.
“Seems like I’m on the highway each and every day,” he said.
Beachem faces a small break from playing basketball games. Travel ball activities resume in July, and New Haven doesn’t play in this month’s Fort Wayne Parks and Rec League, as many area high school squads do.
“Coach (Al) Gooden doesn’t really like that,” Beachem said. “We do things with the team like open gym and conditioning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so it’s pretty good.”
Warren Central’s Devin Davis had a strong weekend. The Indiana commit for the Class of 2013 followed up a 24-point Friday effort with a 13-point, 13-rebound performance on Saturday at North Oldham High School. Hamilton Southeastern’s Zak Irvin, who has committed to Michigan, added 13 points.
Another IU Class of 2013 commit, Collin Hartman, didn't play Saturday night after playing on Friday.
Also, South Side’s Ariana Simmons had three points as the Indiana girls’ All-Stars won 78-68 to sweep their two-game series.