Demons graduate Beckom is soaring in the American college basketball scene

Demons graduate Beckom is soaring in the American college basketball scene
Cork native James Beckom slam dunks the basketball playing for John Brown University Arkansas in the America this season.

THE basketball season was cut drastically short for Cork native James Beckom with John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas United States because of the coronavirus.

Beckom played in the Sooner Athletic Conference NAIA Division 1 and were third seed going into National Tournament before it got cancelled.

He is the son of ‘80s star Dave, who one of the first American basketball in Ireland with Blue Demons. He still lives and works here with his wife Liz, and daughter Jasmine in Donoughmore.

Cork basketball rising star James Beckom with his parents Dave, Liz and sister Jasmine when he was home last Christmas.
Cork basketball rising star James Beckom with his parents Dave, Liz and sister Jasmine when he was home last Christmas.

James began his basketball career with Blue Demons at the tender age of six years of age where he played up to U16 level. In his last year with the Demons club, he won the John O’Brien Young Player of the Year award.

He then took up a scholarship offer from the Italian club Lido Di Roma in Ostia Rome. Beckom spent a year in Italy before America came calling, so he moved to Bentonville, Arkansas to live with his aunt and uncle and studied at the Bentonville High School.

He played his junior and senior years playing basketball with the High School, and as a result received, and accepted a full athlete scholarship with John Brown University.

“I started to play club basketball at a very young age of six with Blue Demons under Seanie Murphy at the Parochial Hall. I remember my mum or my dad would have to drive me all the way to the Hall every Sunday morning.

“I am extremely great full to my family and to all my coaches at Blue Demons for their support, as they were always there for me on and off the basketball court.

James Beckom and Sean Jenkins, both now Stateside, in action in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins
James Beckom and Sean Jenkins, both now Stateside, in action in 2010. Picture: Larry Cummins

“It was when I was playing with the Irish U16 team at the 2016 European Championships in Bulgaria where I got my big break. 

"I was having a good tournament where I was the top scorer for my team, when a basketball scout based in Italy reached out to me and wanted to know my plans for the future. He then went on to show my highlight tapes from the European Championships to vicarious clubs in Italy.

“He eventually got back to me to tell me a club in Rome we’re interested in me. The club Lido Di Ostia flew myself and my dad out to practice with them for a few days. I loved the place straight away and I moved out a week later.“

They made it to the last 24 teams of the U18 Italian Championship and also competed in the European Youth Basketball League where we played teams from all over Europe, in four different tournaments.

“We eventually finished sixth place overall. I was picked as the MVP of our qualifying stage, and was also awarded one of the Best Players awards after the final tournament.”

He played and lived in Italy from September 2016 to 2017.

Then he moved that summer to America to live with his aunt and uncle Bentonville Arkansas.

“Adjusting to life in America wasn’t that difficult as it was when I lived in Italy, as I surrounded by people who spoke the same language, and I also got to live with my family.”

James Beckom with the Blue Demons U11s in 2009. Picture: Larry Cummins
James Beckom with the Blue Demons U11s in 2009. Picture: Larry Cummins

The level of basketball is higher.

“I slowly adjusted. I did my junior and my senior years with Bentonville High School. I then got offered a full scholarship with John Brown University in which I great fully accepted.

Cork native and Irish basketball international James Beckom in action for John Brown University Arkansas in the United States recently.
Cork native and Irish basketball international James Beckom in action for John Brown University Arkansas in the United States recently.

“This is my freshman year, and we play in Sooner Athletic Conference NAIA Division 1. We had a really good season until everything was cancelled last week.”

His plan for when he finishes college is to try play professionally in Europe, hopefully in Italy.

“Anywhere would be great. I would also love to represent Ireland again, either playing for the senior team.

“Playing and making history as the first men’s team to make the Under 18 Europe Cup in 2018 was a great experience.

“I was lucky to get home to see my family and friend’s at Christmas, as we don’t get much time off with our basketball program.

“At the moment everyone is in limbo with this virus, so I wish everyone the very best of health in these very difficult times.”

Cork U14 team ahead of the 2013 Inter-Regional Tournament. Back: Ronan Coffey (manager), Aidan O'Shea (coach), Adam Drummond, David Murray, John Oyorh, Mabusz Kuchuo, Adam Lordan, Kieran O'Sullivan (coach). Front: Derek Emelifeonwu, Sean Jenkins, Stephen O'Shea, James Beckom, Alex Foley, Blake Murphy, Alex Chandler, Cian Heaphy. Picture: Pat Connolly
Cork U14 team ahead of the 2013 Inter-Regional Tournament. Back: Ronan Coffey (manager), Aidan O'Shea (coach), Adam Drummond, David Murray, John Oyorh, Mabusz Kuchuo, Adam Lordan, Kieran O'Sullivan (coach). Front: Derek Emelifeonwu, Sean Jenkins, Stephen O'Shea, James Beckom, Alex Foley, Blake Murphy, Alex Chandler, Cian Heaphy. Picture: Pat Connolly

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