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MarJon Beauchamp, Yakima native who starred at Rainier Beach, picked 24th in NBA Draft by Milwaukee Bucks

Beauchamp's route to the NBA was unlikely and winding. The Yakima native, who reminds his high school coach of Jordan Poole, initially skipped college, played a short stint at a community college, and was scooped up by the G-League.

MarJon Beauchamp, a Yakima native who starred at Rainier Beach, was with the No. 24 overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's NBA Draft.

He was the third former Washington high school basketball standout chosen in the first round. Paolo Banchero, former O'Dea High School and Duke standout, was selected first overall by Orlando and former Garfield and Federal Way standout Tari Eason was taken at No. 17 by Houston.

"I’m just happy, God never gave up on me," a teary-eyed Beauchamp told the ESPN broadcast. "Everything I had to go through, all the adversity, no one believed in me. This is just special." 

Even at a time where new pathways from prospect-to-pro are emerging, Beauchamp, who was projected to go anywhere from the late first round to early second, had perhaps the most unorthodox route to the NBA of any of this year's selections.

Instead of committing to a college after he graduated in 2020, he opted to take the year preparing for the draft at an upstart private training program. The pandemic rid him of that option before it began, and subsequent stops at his hometown community college and the NBA G-League gave him the chance to showcase himself in front of NBA decision-makers.

(NBA Draft 2022 preview: An inside look at the 3 Washington high school products projected to go in the first round)

When they spoke early in the week, Bethea told Beauchamp to be thankful that the bumps in his road to the pros allowed him to fulfill a dream — of which the draft is just the beginning. 

"It's a humbling experience to be up there, be knocked off and have to fight your way back up," Bethea said. "It makes you appreciate it more."

Beauchamp played for four high schools in four years — including Nathan Hale, Garfield and Rainier Beach in Seattle — transferred to Rainier Beach for his junior season at a time the Metro League featured players like Paolo Banchero (O'Dea), Gonzaga point guard and McDonald's All-American Nolan Hickman (Eastside Catholic), UNLV pledge Shane Nowell (Eastside Catholic) and Creighton's John Christofilis (O'Dea).

Bethea saw in Beauchamp an opportunity to give a talented player with a projectable 6-foot-6 frame the opportunity to play in a system where everything runs through him. 

"He needed to be in a batman-type role and that's what I wanted to do for him," Bethea said. "When you have a guy who is 6-6 and can shoot it the way he does and has all the tools and makeup — 7-foot wingspan, things like that — I couldn't help but think about (his NBA potential)."

He's the first Rainier Beach player to be picked since Kevin Porter Jr. in 2019.

Spurs point guard DeJounte Murray, who was taken 29th overall in 2016, developed significantly after high school, which reminds Bethea of Beauchamp's trajectory.

Beauchamp's rise from uber-athletic wing realizing his talent at Beach to legitimate pro prospect reminds Bethea of Murray, but he feels a better comparison is Jordan Poole, a 6-foot-4 guard who averaged 18.5 points and 4.0 assists per game for the NBA champion Warriors this past season.

He still claims Yakima as his home. His grandfather, Henry Beauchamp, was the city's first Black mayor.

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