By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State sophomore guard Twany Beckham will be transferring to University of Kentucky with the intention of being eligible to play next season.
Beckham, who will have two years left of eligibility confirmed on Tuesday to the Starkville Daily News via text that he did attend a UK practice that day and would be allowed to practice once he’s enrolled in classes this week.
“It’s a dream come true for me today to play for a school I grew up loving ever since I can remember,” Beckham said.
Beckham, who said he grew up cheering for the UK program, had a meeting with Kentucky head coach John Calipari Monday and while he will start as a walk-on, Beckham could be offered a scholarship next season.
“I haven’t been promised anything but with my talent and the style of offense here at Kentucky, I think I have a better chance to expose what I can do immediately,” Beckham said.
Beckham said one of the major reasons he decided to leave the MSU program was the motion offense didn’t fit his style of play and needed a philosophical change. Enter Calipari’s dribble-drive system.
“When I saw it during the practice (Monday), I absolutely fell in love with it and thought that’s where I fit in right now,” Beckham said.
Beckham, a 6-foot-5 point guard, was averaging 2.9 points and two assists per game in 15.7 minutes in the first two months of the 2010-11 season for Mississippi State.
Beckham said his high school coach Chris Renner starting calling schools on his behalf and it was Renner that set up the meeting for Beckham with the UK staff this week. Beckham told the Starkville Daily News that other low-major schools were in the mix for his services such as Murray State, Morehead State and IUPUI but neither of them had immediate scholarship offers either.
“I thought if I'm going to pay a semester, then I thought why not go to the place and school I've rooted for all my life,’ Beckham said. “Being able to graduate from the University of Kentucky is special to a lot of people around me as well.”
Beckham was a three-year starter at Ballard High School in Louisville Ken., including such honors at Region Player of the Year and averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in his senior season.
Beckham confirmed the news to the Starkville Daily News two weeks ago on his intent to transfer after walking out of Humphrey Coliseum where he had just informed the MSU coaching staff of his decision.
“Just basically lack of playing time guys and y’all can look at our roster and see that pretty easily,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury said on Jan. 5 when asked why Beckham was leaving. “Twany’s a good kid and a good student. It’s very easy to look out there and where your minutes come from. I can’t fault him for his decision. You look at Twany’s minutes knowing that Dee is coming back, it’s going to be difficult for him to play the amount he wants to and I can’t fault him for that. He just wants the opportunity to be a starter.”
Mississippi State’s athletic compliance office confirmed Monday that Beckham’s transfer waiver gave him the opportunity to sign with any program in the country including schools in the Southeastern Conference.
The Wildcats program has one senior (6-foot-10 forward Josh Harrellson) on its 2010-11 roster but Calipari is known for having constant turnover in his programs throughout his coaching history at UMass and Memphis with players declaring early for the NBA Draft and transferring out for more playing time.