Beard to ball it up with Bears

CHILLICOTHE — The opportunity to play college basketball at the next level is one that Tre Beard has been training for his entire life.

For the 2020-21 academic year on forward, Beard will not only get to pursue what he’s been working for, but will have that opportunity while playing just an hour away from home.

Beard, a 5-11 point guard out of Chillicothe High School and the OHSAA’s all-time leader in three-point field goal percentage for a career (48.7), will become a second-generation Shawnee State attendee in his family — and in the men’s basketball program — when he suits up for DeLano Thomas’ unit this coming academic year.

His father, Pat, was a four-year letterwinner for the Bears from the 1993-94 to 1996-97 seasons.

“It means a lot,” Beard said. “Since I was young, I always wanted to continue to play basketball after high school. I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to keep playing. It’s truly a blessing.”

Heart overcomes size

Never the biggest of guards, or basketball players in general, Beard has always relied on a savvy playstyle to get the appropriate work done on the court.

He’s combined his savvy IQ and strong skill set with a massive heart that has led to a deeper improvement as a basketball player, which was on display throughout the final two seasons of his high school career at Chillicothe — after playing in a backup role to future Cedarville standout Branden Maughmer.

“During my sophomore year, I was just a shooter,” Beard said. “I was told by Coach (Eric) Huffer that in order to improve my game, I needed to work on getting to the rim a bit more to keep defenders on their toes.”

Over the past two years, that improvement was on full display.

In his first season in the starting lineup, Beard — alongside fellow stars and classmates Brandon Noel and Jayvon Maughmer — averaged 12 points, 3.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as a junior, on his way to OHSAA Division I Southeast District Special Mention and all-Frontier Athletic Conference accolades.

As Beard continued to develop his game off the dribble, his skill kept improving.

It came full circle as a senior for Beard, who averaged 13.9 points per game, averaged nearly one assist and two rebounds more per game than in his junior year, and finished with a three-point field-goal percentage over 53-percent — a staggering total.

He was named all-FAC again and bumped up his postseason accolades at the district and state levels, earning Division I second-team all-Southeast District and Honorable Mention all-Ohio — as Chillicothe finished 19-5 with a Division I Central District semifinal appearance.

For his career, Beard made an incredible 149 of his 306 three-point field goal tries.

He, along with Medina’s Jackson Sartain who made 167 of his 347 attempts for a 48.1-percent accuracy rate, are the only two players in OHSAA boys basketball history to make more than 46-percent of their attempts from the floor on at least 300 attempts from deep in a career.

Considering that he played alongside Noel, a Wright State signee who averaged 18 points a game, and Jayvon Maughmer, who averaged 16.5 a night himself on his way to joining his older brother at Cedarville, all questions about Beard’s skill level were certainly put to rest.

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Beard said. “During my freshman and sophomore year, I had players in front of me that helped improve my game, like Branden, and got to play with fantastic teammates. The coaching was great as well as our fans. I loved it.”

For that, Beard credits the development within the CHS program as a driver off the dribble.

“It just added to my arsenal,” Beard said. “Defenders had to expect more out of me. I was no longer one-dimensional.”

Like father, like son

Knowing the work ethic that it takes to be a productive college basketball player from his days competing for SSU in the now-defunct Mid-Ohio Conference, Beard’s father had his son prepped to become a steel mind.

In addition to playing for Pat in his younger days at Chillicothe, Beard also played under his father for the Mid-Ohio Pumas, an AAU organization based in Hilliard.

The eldest Beard was an all-MOC Honorable Mention selection as a senior at SSU in 1997, and sits eighth all-time in school history in games played (115).

“He’s (Pat) been coaching me for an opportunity like this since I was young,” Beard said. “He was actually my coach during school and in AAU ball growing up. Sometimes, he’s harder on me than others, but that just comes with the father-son bond.”

No bull with Bears

For the youngest Beard, the welcoming, family environment that the players and coaches presented made the opportunity to play at SSU enticing — especially considering the unprecedented success that the program had during the 2019-20 campaign.

Shawnee State went 21-11 en route to accumulating its second-highest win total in school history, posted a winning 9-7 record in Mid-South Conference play, and captured its first-ever NAIA Tournament bid.

The unit had two players, Kyree Elder and returning big man E.J. Onu, named to the first-team all-MSC and NAIA Honorable Mention All-America lists following the year’s conclusion.

“It was great,” Beard said. “Coach (DeLano) Thomas and the rest of the staff are a big reason why I committed there. (Jack) Trainer played a big part in my commitment as well. As for the guys there now, they are like brothers in a huge family. I’m just glad to be a part of the family now.”

However, the future business adminstration major knows that basketball is as much a tool to help continue his education.

It’s certainly helped keep him grounded and prepared as evidenced by his repeated status on Chillicothe’s academic honor roll.

Make no mistake about it, however — if the opportunity to play basketball after school is there, Beard plans to go for it.

“My parents have always said to follow through with college and get my degree,” Beard said. “That’s what I’m going to do. On the athletic side of things, I just want to be the best that I can be and hopefully continue to play after college. That’s the ultimate goal.”

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