MarJon Beauchamp, the No. 47 prospect in the ESPN class of 2020, has signed with the NBA's G League Ignite program, he told ESPN on Tuesday.
"I thought this was the best route I could go," Beauchamp said. "I've been off the radar for a while, but I'm glad to get an opportunity from [G League executives] Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. It represents a lot for me, and I have to thank them. I'm confident that I can be a top pick next year with this platform. "
The 19-year-old Beauchamp originally signed with Chameleon BX in August of 2019, a training program based in San Francisco founded by former Memphis Tigers strength coach Frank Matrisciano that recruited several highly regarded high school prospects. Beauchamp says he spent eight months with the program but was unable to do much basketball training because of pandemic restrictions in the Bay Area.
"The experience was actually great. It was a shame that COVID messed it up and we couldn't get in any gyms. I gained 25 pounds. That was a big plus for me," he said.
Beauchamp returned home to Yakima, Washington, and enrolled at Yakima Valley, a local junior college. He played 12 games there, averaging 30.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 40% from 3-point range.
"It was nice to be back playing after a year off the court. It was a humbling experience at the same time, people asking me all the time why am I playing community college basketball," he said. "It helped me in the long run to keep working. It's just another part of my journey."
His impressive play at Yakima led to calls from schools like Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Texas Tech, Arkansas and LSU, Beauchamp said, but he elected not to pursue the college route because of question marks about his amateur status. Beauchamp, who played at four different high schools in Seattle and Arizona, says the experience he gained playing all over the West Coast as a teenager helped him mature and grow.
"I went through a lot of adversity at a young age. I've learned not to trust everyone. I play with a passion now because I love this game. NBA teams will see the energy I have, especially on the defensive end. I used to be very laid back," he said.
At 6-foot-7, with a 7-foot wingspan, a 205-pound frame and impressive athletic ability, Beauchamp is a natural talent who will draw significant intrigue the moment he steps on the floor for Ignite with his scoring instincts, defensive versatility and shot-making prowess.
Beauchamp drew some buzz the past few weeks after holding his own against current and former NBA players at the Crawsover, Jamal Crawford's summer Pro-Am in Seattle. He earned praise from Crawford himself, whom Beauchamp called "our Michael Jordan."
"He's the reason the Seattle basketball scene is as tight nit as it is. The way he shows love to everyone. Everyone follows that road," he said.
Beauchamp joins five-star high school recruits Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson and Michael Foster on Ignite's roster for the 2021-22 season, as well as Australian Dyson Daniels, a projected top-20 pick. Chinese prospect Fanbo Zeng, who previously committed to play for Gonzaga after attending Windermere Prep in Florida, also announced that he'll be joining the Ignite via a statement posted on his Weibo account in April. His signing has also not yet been officially consummated.
After playing collegiately at Yakima last season, Beauchamp is bound by the same rules as other U.S.-based players who become automatically eligible for the next NBA draft upon signing a professional contract, and thus will be part of the 2022 NBA draft class.
Beauchamp, who turns 20 in October, is the first player Ignite has signed who is more than a year removed from his original high school graduating class of 2020, marking a potential new pathway for the NBA to explore as the competition for elite young prospects stiffens in an increasingly crowded market.
The Overtime Elite league (OTE) has already signed 16 players to its roster with at least another eight yet to come, including at least one player who could have been a target for Ignite in 18-year old Dominican guard Jean Montero.
Scoot Henderson, previously the No. 7 prospect in the ESPN class of 2022 recruiting rankings, shunned Overtime in favor of Ignite. He became the first high school junior to commit to the G League program and, because of his age, the first player signed who is not NBA draft-eligible the following year.
"They are trying to have people who want to get to the league," Beauchamp said. "This will be the top pick for every kid one day. I'm excited for the opportunity. I never thought I would be in this position when I was in Yakima."
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.