(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - Sikeston basketball standout Julian Beard has signed to play next year at Marshalltown, Iowa Community College.
The 6-foot-2 guard finished with 1,050 career points, was a two-time Class 4 All-State selection, two-time All-SEMO Conference and a two-time Class 4 All-Region selection for the Bulldogs in his junior and senior campaigns.
As a sophomore, Beard averaged 10.5 points, four rebounds and two assists per game for Sikeston. Beard shot an outstanding 89.3 percent from the free-
Beard's junior year was the best season ever for Bulldog basketball. Sikeston finished in second place in Class 4, losing to Borgia in the finals. On the season, Beard averaged 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game. Beard had another stellar year at the charity stripe shooting 81.4 percent.
Sikeston lost to Notre Dame in the Class 4, District 1 final to Notre Dame in an epic battle this past season. Notre Dame's Abe Dirnberger hit a last second 3-pointer to defeat Sikeston. Notre Dame went on to finish second in Class 4. Beard averaged 15.5 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals per game for his final year as a Bulldog.
"Julian's game will just get better and better," said Sikeston head coach Gregg Holifield. "Julian has improved so much over the last two years and he stepped it up to the next level with his athletic ability. He has improved as a basketball player and he will continue to do so."
Beard spent much of his high school career as a shooting forward, but believes his calling in college will be as a point guard.
"Some of the Division I schools were not sold on my abilities and Marshalltown is giving me the opportunity to come up there and play point guard," said Beard. "It is a Division I junior college so it will have top level competition. I am going to have to get stronger, but I feel I am ready for the challenge."
Marshalltown is located in the heart of Iowa and is a short drive northeast from Des Moines. The Tigers compete in a rugged conference with the likes of junior college power Indian Hills and conference rival Iowa Western.
The Tigers finished the year at 17-15, losing to Indian Hills in the first round of the regional tournament. Indian Hills made the JUCO national tournament and finished the year at 33-3. Indian Hills defeated Three Rivers at Poplar Bluff in November by 20 points.
Marshalltown has a diverse roster of players from Brazil, Venezuela and Germany. The foreign connection might have something to do with head coach Brynjar Brynrarsson, who is a native of Iceland.
Brynrarsson just finished his second year at Marshalltown as a head coach. He was the assistant at the junior college for four year before that. Brynrarsson has also been an assistant at Iowa State and Idaho.
Besides recruiting overseas, Marshalltown has players from as far as California and North Carolina.
Kenard Moore, the Tigers point guard from last year, recently signed to play for SEMO. Marshalltown has four players projected to return to school next season.
Although slowed by a foot injury for much of the year, Beard never complained and continued to work hard despite the pain. Holifield believes if Beard continues to work hard, he should contribute at Marshalltown.
"Julian did have a bad foot this year," said Holifield, "but he really started to play well down the stretch. There has been a lot of interest in Julian in the last month or so. Marshalltown is a good fit for him. It is in a good location and it should work out for both parties."