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Beckham still adjusting to UK life

Twany Beckham realized one of his long-time dreams when he transferred to Kentucky after a few years at Mississippi State.

Transfer Twany Beckham is still trying to figure out what Calipari wants (Photo courtesy of 247Sports' Jeff Drummond).

When someone meets his childhood idol, it isn’t always exactly how he saw it in his head. That’s how it’s been for Beckham early on in his playing career at UK.

It’s not that Beckham had any delusions about his role at UK; he’s been practicing with the team since enrolling in January 2011, so he knew where he stood among John Calipari’s rotation of players. The 6-5 guard was a point guard in his last stop at Mississippi State, but Calipari made it clear Beckham won’t use him in that role.

Instead, Beckham has been used so far as a versatile, albeit seldom used, defensive plug-in. He’s played 3.5 minutes per game in six games (he’s checked in to every game except one since becoming eligible on Dec. 17; he missed Saturday’s game against South Carolina with a stomach illness). That’s in contrast to playing 8.4 minutes per game as a Mississippi State freshman and 15.7 per game, including four starts, in half a season as a Bulldogs sophomore before leaving mid-season.

In six games (and 21 minutes) so far at UK, Beckham has two assists and four rebounds. He has yet to take a shot.

“It’s going OK,” Beckham said. “I feel like I’ve hit some learning curves so I’m just trying to come in and work hard every day.”

The junior hasn’t been used much, something which Calipari eluded to in news conferences leading up to Beckham’s debut. But when he’s been on the floor, he hasn’t looked out of place. The Cats’ only comparable opponent since Beckham’s transfer year lapsed was Louisville, and he played two minutes in the first half because five of his teammates picked up at least two fouls before halftime.

Beckham’s only counting stat in that game was one assist; it was a slick backdoor pass to Kyle Wiltjer, a layup that gave UK a 36-33 lead with less than a minute left until halftime. Before that basket, the Cardinals were within one; without that basket, they could have taken a halftime lead and taken a considerable amount of momentum into halftime.

The Louisville native could have gone elsewhere and played more, but it’s moments like the assist against Louisville that have proven that Beckham belongs—maybe not on the John Wall-Brandon Knight-Anthony Davis Scale of Impossible Expectations, but he belongs nonetheless.

“I was talking a lot to Kenny Payne and he was telling me that this place isn’t for everybody but if you want to achieve, Coach Cal lets his players grow,” Beckham said, reflecting back on his decision to leave Starkville for Lexington. “It was an opportunity I was looking forward to and wanted to embrace. It was something I couldn’t pass up.

“A lot has happened,” he said. “With me the main thing is I just have to stay focused because a lot has gone on in my life. I’m happy where I’m at right now. I’m where I always wanted to be, my dream school.”

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