Something to prove after a long road from recovery

William Beard-Camp has spent his entire life trying to prove himself to others. Now making a comeback with the Red Deer College Kings basketball team, he’s starting back at square one. The six-foot-two shooting guard transferred to Medicine Hat College in 2012 and got off to a terrific start, scoring at a 18.1 points per game rate while shooting 53.1 per cent from the three-point line and was a team captain.

William Beard-Camp has spent his entire life trying to prove himself to others.

Now making a comeback with the Red Deer College Kings basketball team, he’s starting back at square one.

The six-foot-two shooting guard transferred to Medicine Hat College in 2012 and got off to a terrific start, scoring at a 18.1 points per game rate while shooting 53.1 per cent from the three-point line and was a team captain. But he tore his ACL, his MCL and his meniscus in his right knee when a teammate fell into him during practice prior to the start of the second semester.

In July he was cut by the Rattlers, their opponent this weekend, as they needed to bring in players to fill holes for the coming year.

He understands the reasoning but is frustrated by the way it was done.

“He released me the day I had surgery. He told me on Facebook, released me and then blocked me on Facebook,” said Beard-Camp. “It was really frustrating for it to end that way in Medicine Hat …

“I’m not too worried about it, but I’m pumped for this weekend.”

Kings assistant coach Luc Stevenson was an assistant coach at Medicine Hat in 2012 and is a big reason Beard-Camp is in Red Deer now, and says the Pasadena, Calif., native needs to look beyond the incident.

“He’ll have a lot of emotions, but the focus isn’t just at Will getting back at Medicine Hat, the focus is on us getting better as a team and progressing towards that national championship,” said Stevenson. “He understands that and that the past is the past … I certainly wouldn’t condone Will having ill feelings because if it wasn’t for the situation in Medicine Hat then me and Will wouldn’t have crossed paths.”

Stevenson played a big role in Beard-Camp’s recovery following the season.

He was in Boise, Idaho, where he had his surgery and about to begin rehabbing his knee, of which most of the muscles surrounding the joint had atrophied. He had a long road back ahead of him to get to 100 per cent, a journey he’s still working on.

By then Stevenson had been hired by Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger, and they were looking to upgrade their American talent.

“I think he is the X-factor,” said Stevenson. “He has played against so many high quality players down south — NBA prospects, high NCAA Division I players in high school and junior college … We have our guys like Matt Johnson and Brian Prenoslo and a couple of university transfers, to add Will to that mix it will hopefully push us over that hump.”

Hearing from Stevenson was a wake up call as much as anything for Beard-Camp.

“I didn’t think I was going to play basketball after surgery, I couldn’t even walk … I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t do anything for weeks,” he said. “Luc Stevenson gave me a call right after surgery and was like ‘If you want to play, you have a spot, just work hard and get back.’ I worked really hard just to get to the point where I was before, then I got here and realized I wasn’t ready yet. I had to work even harder, I had to put in more work … I learned more about myself in the past year than I have in the first 20 years of my life.”

His biggest motivator was his father Tanoka Beard, who is still the all-time leading scorer at Boise State. The six-foot-10 forward then went on to a 17-year professional basketball career in Europe where he starred in some of the top leagues in the world outside of the NBA. He also has uncles that played pro in Europe as well.

There is a lot of size in his family. His younger brother is well on his way to being seven feet while his younger sisters are both closing in on him as well.

It’s a point they do not let him forget.

“I’m the runt, I get it all the time,” he said. “Right now I’m probably the least accomplished basketball player in my family. But I’m definitely working at it.”

William, however, grew up in Los Angeles before going moving to Ogden, Utah to attend Layton Christian Academy and focus solely on his basketball career.

The whole time he envisioned himself following in his Dad’s massive footsteps and go to Boise State, but at the last minute instead decided on going the junior college route and went to Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Was. There he helped make basketball matter for the first time in a generation.

After his two years there, he became a highly-recruited prospect by universities and colleges in B.C. He almost signed at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo but an ankle injury led the Mariners to sign a different import, and so Beard-Camp took the year off to heal.

He finally landed in Medicine Hat, turning down a half-scholarship offer from the University of British Columbia.

When it became clear he was going to make a come back and was a free agent, so to speak, he says he heard from just about every college in Alberta, but there was really only one choice for him.

“It’s a winning culture here,” said Beard-Camp, who is working on a business and marketing degree and plans to be at RDC for his final two years of eligibility. “I wanted to play for a top tier team with a top tier coach, I wanted to play for a guy that was going to push me and see what I can achieve. I want to see how far I can go with this and I want a chance at a national championship.”

At this point, he’s trying to shake the rust and get his shot back to where it used to be, noting he frustratingly does not quite have the explosiveness that he used to.

However, in last week’s home opener he stepped back on the court for a regular season game for the first time since December of 2012. He scored one point in limited minutes, but he doesn’t care about the stats, it was everything just to play again.

“I was the happiest I have been in a long time,” said Beard-Camp, who scored 10 points the next night in Calgary. “I was pumped, to say the least. I haven’t had game action in two

RDC and Medicine Hat tip off at 8 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday, the women go at 6 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.

• The RDC Queens hockey team hosts the SAIT Trojans tonight at 7 p.m.

• RDC Kings men’s volleyball player was named one of three ACAC Men’s athlete of the week, sharing the award with NAIT soccer player Igi Broda and Lethbridge College’s cross-country runner Edwin Kaitany.

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