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But it was a role Beauford was comfortable in, said his coach, Bob Oliva.
Hes basically a low-profile kid, Oliva said. Hes very comfortable being in the background. He doesnt really need to step to the forefront all of the time, although his game doesnt really exhibit that because hes flashy.
During the first half of the season, Beauford toiled away while McNeil got the headlines and emerging star sophomore Chris Martin got the fine print. Down the stretch, however, the senior out of Wheatley Heights became the story.
Though he finished behind McNeil in scoring, averaging 16.5 points per game, during the Royals playoff run, Beauford emerged as a scorer and a versatile one at that.
Mitchell really lives and dies with his shot, Oliva said. In the beginning of the year he didnt make a lot of shots, and he was really down on himself and then he just started making shots and turned it around. With that, his confidence grew.
There were times when I thought Mitchell was the best player we had down at the end in the playoffs, the coach added. Certainly there were a couple of games I dont want to say he carried us but he was a big portion of the ammunition.
The most athletic player on the team, the 6-foot-1 guard was called a highlight film by his coach. His ability to drive to the hole as well as hit the outside jumper made Beauford one of the most dangerous players in the CHSAA, leading the team to a 26-8 record, the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title and the CHSAA state crown.
In the second half of the season he shot the ball extremely well and thats something a point guard has to do, Oliva said. Mitchells not really a point guard per se, but there were times this season down the end when he had to handle the ball and he did. Mitchell just needed to understand that Mitchell can do things that sometimes he doesnt even think he can do. Sometimes he lacks a little confidence, a little motivation.
Beaufords legacy, however, will be on the defensive end.
What Mitchell really does ... hes probably the best on the ball defender weve ever had here, Oliva said. Thats how good he was. He took people out for three years, even as a sophomore and he got better and better at it.
High praise considering CK is the alma mater of such players as Jayson Williams, Derrick Phelps, Lamar Odom and Speedy Claxton. And certainly reason enough to be named TimesLedger Player of the Year.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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