Iowa 2020 point guard target Tyler Beard is known for his defense. He talks about why that is the case. Matthew Bain, Sports writer
MEQUON, Wisc. — Tyree Beard jokes that he's been reviewing old Chicago Bulls film with his son, Tyler Beard, since he came out of the womb.
In reality, Tyree began showing his son 1990s Bulls playoff games when he was 8.
They would analyze the games for hours, picking apart schemes piece by piece. More than anything, though, Tyree wanted Tyler to watch how Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman defended — how they could swing a game's momentum with a 24-second violation or a steal, not a ferocious dunk.
"From a young age, he and I always talked about being a great defender," Tyree said. "The easiest way to stay in the game and stay on the court is to be a great defender. You can’t always guarantee your shot is going to fall. But defense is about effort."
The film sessions worked.
Today, Beard is one of the 2020 class' top up-and-coming point guards. The major recruiting services give him four stars and rank him in the top 60, and there's thought the product of Chicago powerhouse Whitney Young could rise even higher.
After missing on D.J. Carton in 2019, Iowa is actively looking for an elite point guard in 2020. And Beard, whose team-first, defense-always style of play is exactly what the Hawkeyes need, could be the answer.
"I can definitely be that guy," Beard said.
The 6-foot-2 guard holds offers from Iowa, Butler, DePaul and Illinois-Chicago. All four have had a regular presence at his games this week. Xavier, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, St. John's, Georgetown, Southern Illinois, Creighton, Missouri, Florida Atlantic, Northern Illinois, Green Bay and North Dakota State have also gotten eyes on him.
After the July evaluation periods wrap up, Beard's schedule will be full of August visits. Tyree Beard said they're scheduled to take unofficial visits to Villanova on Aug. 20 and Butler on Aug. 3. They're also planning to take unofficial visits to Iowa, Illinois and FAU.
"He’s very excited about the opportunity to go take an unofficial visit (to Iowa) and go on campus, meet the coaching staff, see the facilities," Tyree said. "He’s definitely looking forward to that. Plus, it’s close to home. My wife and myself, we absolutely love that."
Tyler Beard said the Iowa offer, which came June 24, "means a lot" and that he likes the school, both athletically and academically. His main recruiter is Hawkeye assistant coach Sherman Dillard, and he said they talk once or twice a week.
Beard's father said the Iowa offer was a blessing.
"There’s millions of kids that wish they were in the spot Tyler is in, so we don't take anything for granted," Tyree said. "For two high-majors like Iowa and Butler, who have major success in the NCAA Division I circuit, (to take interest), for us it’s a humbling experience. He’s grateful to even be mentioned among the ones who have an opportunity to possibly play for them."
At this point in his development, Beard's biggest area for improvement is his shot. If he's scoring, he's mostly doing so by slashing inside or taking control in a fast break.
Tyrone Slaughter, Beard's coach with Whitney Young and Meanstreets, said his point guard's shot is rapidly improving. He said Beard wouldn't even take jumpers at this time last year. Now, he's getting more comfortable letting it fly.
Beard's strengths are just as apparent.
Slaughter said he is "evolving all the time." His defense jumps out at you first. He routinely applies full-court pressure, and his length combined with lateral quickness and a low, sturdy defensive stance work wonders on the perimeter.
"Toughness and grittiness. I like playing that way. That’s how we were raised in Chicago," Beard said. "Defense is the most important part of the game. You’ve got to bring it at both ends, not just offense. Playing defense, you’ve just got to get down and get gritty and tough. If everybody’s on the floor playing defense, you have a team that gets hyped up. It brings energy to the game. You get a flow, and the offense just comes with the defense."
Iowa also loves Beard's intangibles. His leadership and work ethic, his presence on the floor, his cool head, his internal motivation.
An example: Right after Beard returned home from the Nike EYBL Peach Jam last Sunday, he was in the gym. Then, on Monday, Tyree said Tyler spent a 12-hour day back at the gym — shooting in the morning, taking an afternoon nap in the bleachers, working on strength and core conditioning, and shooting again in the evening.
"That's the type of kid he is," Tyree said. "That's him."
Slaughter said Beard is a good fit for Big Ten basketball. It's a tough league, he said, and Beard is a tough kid. He thinks the Hawkeyes were smart to get involved when they did.
"Now, they have an opportunity to be involved and try to get in early," he said. "It really becomes interesting to see how that goes long-term. He’s an up-and-coming guy. He’s got the ability to do some things, and (Iowa) got in early."
Iowa and Butler won't be Beard's only high-major offers. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Illinois extend an offer before too long. Iowa State and Michigan also have Beard on their radars, and more high-level Midwest programs will after this week, too.
Beard is one of 10 point guards or combo guards Iowa has offered in the 2020 class. But the level of mutual interest, plus the pieces in place for Beard's recruitment, should put him right near the top of Iowa's big board.
He's that ideal combination — an elite talent who's still somewhat under the radar. And it's clear the early offer from Iowa matters.
If Beard likes what he sees and hears during his unofficial visit to Iowa City, the Hawkeyes will be a major player for a 2020 point guard who fits their needs to a T.
Matthew Bain covers college football and basketball recruiting for the Des Moines Register. He also helps out with Iowa and Iowa State football and basketball coverage for HawkCentral and Cyclone Insider. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.