MILWAUKEE (AP) — MarJon Beauchamp’s circuitous path to the Milwaukee Bucks included stops at four high schools, a community college and the NBA G League.
Bucks assistant general manager Milt Newton said Beauchamp even was homeless at one point.
The Bucks believe the hard road he took to the NBA will help the 6-foot-6 wing thrive now that he’s finally made it as the 24th overall pick in the draft.
"I love the kind of the grittiness and the adversity that is part of his background and part of who he is, and his happiness and heart and spirit that he has in spite of all of it and kind of working with it," general manager Jon Horst said. “I think it’s kind of made him who he is today."
As he heard his name get called Thursday, Beauchamp couldn't help but think back to all the obstacles he faced along the way. He fought back tears on the way to the stage.
“A lot was going through my head,” Beauchamp said. “I feel like I was going through all the phases I’ve been through. Going through my head, just everything I had to sacrifice to be here today. And, man, I’m just blessed to be here. I’m just ready to grow and become a great basketball player and just keep working, because that’s all I do. I work.”
The hurdles Beauchamp faced on his road to the NBA could help him deal with whatever adversity he encounters in the league.
“What it tells us is he’s a fighter,” Newton said. “It doesn’t matter if he gets knocked down, i.e. maybe not playing as much as he thinks he’s going to play, or not doing as well initially. He’s going to continue to get in the gym every day and compete and work hard.”
It’s not just Beauchamp’s intangibles that had the Bucks insisting they didn't expect him to still be around at No. 24. They also love his athleticism and his ability to defend multiple positions with his 7-foot-1 wingspan.
Beauchamp shapes up to be the first opening-round pick the Bucks have kept beyond draft night since taking Donte DiVincenzo 17th overall in 2018. DiVincenzo spent 3 ½ seasons with the Bucks before getting dealt to Sacramento in February as part of the four-team trade that brought them veteran center Serge Ibaka.
Milwaukee hasn’t made much use of the draft lately as it has focused on acquiring veterans to support two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 15th overall selection in 2013.
The Bucks’ playoff roster included only two other players they drafted: 2020 second-round pick Jordan Nwora and 2021 selection Sandro Mamukelashvili.
The Bucks also have limited first-round opportunities in future years because they’ve used much of their draft capital to obtain established players.
They traded their 2023 first-round pick in the deal that helped them add P.J. Tucker for their 2021 championship run. They dealt their 2025 and 2027 first-round selections in the trade that brought them Jrue Holiday. They also have potential pick swaps with New Orleans in 2024 and 2026 resulting from the Holiday trade.
That makes it important that Beauchamp emerges as a quality player as the Bucks attempt to lengthen their championship window.
“I’m so excited,” Beauchamp said. “Playing with one of the greatest to play the game and a great team, to learn from them and to learn from Khris Middleton and all the vets they have, it’s amazing. I feel like God put me in this position to grow and to become one of them. That’s my plan, just to learn and keep growing.”
The 21-year-old Beauchamp is regarded as a strong defensive player. He averaged 15.1 points for the Ignite this season.
Beauchamp and the Bucks believes his time the G League will help prepare him for the NBA. Beauchamp says that experience makes him "feel like I'm a step ahead of people coming in.”
“College basketball is hard too, but the G League is a whole different level," Horst said. “So he played against NBA level or pro level players at many different times. And I thought throughout the year, he got better as the season went on finding his spots, finding his rhythm, finding his confidence,”
Beauchamp came to the Ignite after averaging 30.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists at Yakima (Washington) Valley College in a pandemic-shortened season.
Horst says Beauchamp's background should help the rookie fit right in with the rest of the roster.
“(We have) a bunch of competitive guys with a chip on their shoulder and have something to play for,” Horst said. "And I think he’s one of those guys.”
Notes: The Bucks also acquired the draft rights to Hugo Besson, the 58th and final pick Thursday night, from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for cash considerations. The 6-foot-4 guard played in 25 games with the New Zealand Breakers during the 2021-22 season and averaged 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists..