THE rhythm of the rebounding machine drums an echo through the halls at John Brown University as fourth-year James Beckom sharpens his three-point shot for what seems like the millionth time.
It has become habitual at this point for the Cork native, traipsing to the gymnasium every chance that he gets between the many commitments of a student-athlete in the US.
22-year-old Beckom has reaped the benefits of this tireless work ethic since he swapped Leeside for stateside six years ago in pursuit of his basketball aspirations.
Foregoing his final few years of education in Ireland, Beckom made a brief stop in Rome for a season with Lido Di Roma after an impressive U16 European Championships performance.
This was closely followed by a brave leap across the pond in order to finish his secondary schooling in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Now, JB resides just an hour away in Siloam Springs where he captains the university’s basketball team in his fourth and final season, set to receive his business degree this summer.
“It’s crazy to think that I’m a senior already. It seems like my freshman year was only a couple of months ago.
A moment that stands out would definitely be the year that we tied the all-time wins record in school history and were ranked eighth in the nation.”
It’s been a turbulent time in terms of results for the Golden Eagles while Beckom’s been with the side, with this year ceasing to yield similar results to the success they had in his first campaign.
Beckom is operating in unfamiliar territory as a primary option for eighth-year head coach Jason Beschta, having been slightly further down the pecking order in previous seasons.
“Up until this season, I’ve always been right in the middle of the pack in terms of minutes I got in the game — always playing but not starting.
“But, we had eight seniors graduate after last season, so I knew it was time for me to step up this year.”
Stepping up is exactly what the dynamic shooting guard has done, made evident by a noticeable hike in his average points and rebounds per game.
He has complemented this improvement with an injection of energy on the other end of the floor too, reflected by a growth in his defensive stats.
“Always being coachable and giving 100% effort is a must as a college player.
“It’s key to stay positive and just keep working in order to eventually see the results that you want.”
The conclusion of an eventful college career is upon Beckom, whose main priority is meeting the requirements to graduate in May.
However, the ball won’t stop bouncing for Beckom come the season’s close, with one of the nation’s most promising prospects looking to follow in his father’s footsteps in the professional ranks back in Europe.
Playing professionally has always been my goal in life and I know that I’ll be ready for it.
“I would love to go back to Italy and play professionally there. I loved the country, the people and the basketball during the season I played there before I moved to the US.
“But, there are many good countries in Europe to play in so I’m excited to see what the future holds!”
The option of returning to his hometown will always loom large for Beckom, who actively keeps up with the ongoing InsureMyVan.ie Super League season.
“I stay up to date with most results, in particular UCC Demons.
“I’m still Demons to the core and now that two of my closest friends, the Hannigan twins, have moved over I’m always checking in on how they’re doing.
“I also keep up to date and in touch with another best friend in Sean Jenkins. I know how much it means to him to be succeeding back home with DBS Éanna and being back in the National Cup final after the success he had with Neptune in the underage ranks.”
Admitting that an eventual return to the Super League is inevitable and that the desire to don the green jersey burns within him, it seems that it’ll only be a matter of time before Beckom solidifies himself as a household name in the Irish basketball community.