Today’s news:

2003 TimesLedger CHSAA Player of the Year: Mitchell Beauford, Christ the King

But it was a role Beauford was comfortable in, said his coach, Bob Oliva.

“He’s basically a low-profile kid,” Oliva said. “He’s very comfortable being in the background. He doesn’t really need to step to the forefront all of the time, although his game doesn’t really exhibit that because he’s 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 didn’t 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 don’t 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 that’s something a point guard has to do,” Oliva said. “Mitchell’s 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 doesn’t even think he can do. Sometimes he lacks a little confidence, a little motivation.”

Beauford’s legacy, however, will be on the defensive end.

“What Mitchell really does ... he’s probably the best on the ball defender we’ve ever had here,” Oliva said. “That’s 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.

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