The Carbondale boys basketball program has seen a lot of really good players come and go over the years. But Darius Beane might have had higher expectations on him than any other Terrier entering high school as a freshman in 2014.
Coming from a great basketball family, all the pressure was on Beane from the time he was 14 years old. And he delivered.
As a senior, Beane averaged 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game. For his efforts, Beane is The Southern Illinoisan’s Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“It’s awesome, and I think that’s where I get some of my athleticism from,” Beane said. “Ever since I can remember, my whole family has been playing sports, too.”
When your dad was an all-conference player at Kansas State University, and your brother was a serious candidate for Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year at SIU in 2016, and your mom was an All-American volleyball player in college, people are going to expect you to produce.
And Beane certainly did for the Terriers. His 1,617 points place him sixth all-time in Carbondale’s rich history, which is a big deal considering all the great players that have come through, including Troy Hudson, Dan Cross and Justin Dentmon.
“I came in my freshman year kind of worried about how I was going to contribute,” Beane said. “But my older teammates, guys like Allen Billinger, Jordan Kelly and Miguel Jackson, they just put their arm around me and told me not to worry about it and just play my game.”
Dentmon is the only player Jim Miller has coached that has scored more points than Beane. Miller took over the Carbondale program in 1998.
“I think he handled that pressure very well, and there were a whole lot of high expectations on him,” Miller said. “He comes from such an athletic family with a tremendous background. He did have some big shoes to fill, but we never approached it as if he was anyone other than Darius. He accepted that, and he ran with it.”
It can be a delicate balancing act dealing with a high-profile freshman. But Miller was all in on Beane from the start.
“He had a great career, and we don’t have many kids that get to start as freshmen,” Miller said. “I remember him at Marion his freshman year, and he guarded one of their better players. He basically shut him down when he was just a freshman. He understood his role back at that point. We tried to get him not to defer so much to other players, and we wanted him to be more of a scorer.”
In a day and age where plenty of basketball players are considered selfish, Beane just wanted to win. And he would do whatever it took to get his team across the finish line with a W.
“My freshman year, we had a lot of scorers and the team was really stacked,” Beane said. “One thing I knew I could do to help my team was just to rebound. I just wanted to be the hardest worker on the floor. If I was needed to score I would, but if not, I wasn’t going to stress about it. I’m an all-around team player.”
But make no mistake about it, when Beane had to take over a game, he would. And at times, it was a beautiful thing watching him devastate his opponents, even in a loss.
“A great example of that would be the regional championship game against Marion,” Miller said. “I’ve never had a kid that played three and a half quarters as well as Darius did. He was dominant. But over the course of that game and the year, he just ran out of gas at times. We were asking him to do so much, so often for long periods of time. There were times where he just never came out, and we still expected him to execute and play as hard as he could. He never complained one time over the course of four years.”
The Terriers had a good season and finished in second place in the South Seven Conference. But everyone wonders what might have been if Kani Acree, a 6-foot-5 Ball State University signee, hadn’t suffered a season-ending knee injury after just eight games.
“I was at home, and he had called me and said he ended up hurting his knee and couldn’t move it,” Beane said. “I was confused at first and thought he was just joking around because that’s how he is. Once we found out how that he tore something in his knee, a lot of the kids on the team were really hurt about it.”
Acree was about to cross the 1,000-point point mark when his season came to an end. At the time, Acree was averaging 19 points per game for Carbondale. It was going to be a special season.
“It felt really bad, and I felt bad for him,” Beane said. “I knew we could have had an even better season. I started off the season playing just okay in the tournaments, and he was playing extremely well. I just knew that once I started picking my game back up, we were positive that we were going to make it very far. Once he got hurt, I had to step up and didn’t really have a choice. It was sad to see Kani go down because he has worked so hard. We’ve been in the gym a lot. I think this whole thing is just going to make him even better in college.”
Beane is looking forward to Division I hoops at SIU, where his brother was a star and his dad is the associate head coach.
“Anything that they need me to do is fine, and it could be a possible redshirt,” Beane said. “I just want to go in and learn a lot from the older guys and get stronger. If they want or need me to play freshman year, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Anthony Beane, Jr. had a devastating pull-up jump shot at SIU. It was his money-maker, so to speak. Darius Beane is progressing in that area as well.
“He just tells me that my pullup is what is going to separate me from a lot of people,” Beane said of his brother, who plays professionally in Poland. “I’ve been watching a lot of stuff that he does. He’s going to be home soon, so I’ll be able to work out with him again. His footwork is what stood out to me. You’ve got to have good footwork to be able to stop on a dime and make shots.”
Miller is looking forward to seeing Beane play at the next level and appreciates what he has done for the Terriers. Beane was named a second team all-state selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
“The best thing I can say about Darius is that I’m proud of him,” Miller said. “I’m proud of his effort and proud of his commitment to his teammates and to Carbondale High School. I have enjoyed watching him mature and gain even more confidence over the years.”