Peebles grad named GSC Player of the Year –
By Mark Carpenter –
As far back as you want to go, the basketball career of Peebles graduate Beau Justice has always been described the same way- “the hardest working player I have ever seen.”
“Beau has a work ethic that is second to none, maybe the best I’ve ever coached,” say current Valdosta state head basketball coach Mike Helfer, who is in his second season with Justice, a season that has ben quite successful for the Division II Blazers. “Beau is always working on something to improve his game. His success is a by-product of the amount of work he puts in.”
Beau is the hardest working player I have seen in my six seasons covering Valdosta State,” says Shane Thomas, sports writer for the Valdosta Daily Times. His success is earned and nothing is by accident. He is relentless and so fun to watch and just a great kid too.”
That success that Helfer and Thomas spoke of has been a memorable junior season at VSU for Justice, one in which he has averaged 20.3 points a game, fired in 88 three-point goals, and shot 90% from the foul line. He his a season-high of 40 points on Jan. 20 against West Georgia and has only been held to less than double figures twice in 30 games. His efforts earned him a spot on the All-Gulf South Conference First Team and he was named as the Conference Player of the Year.
On top of that, Justice became the fastest player in Valdosta State history to reach the 1,000 point plateau, eclipsing that mark earlier this season.
“Reaching 1,000 points in college means a great deal to me,” says Justice, who is the all-time leading scorer at Peebles also. “It proves to me that my hard work has paid off and inspires me to continued to work hard in sports and life. It also means a lot to me that my brother and I are the first two brothers to score 1,000 points at the same university.”
“Being the fastest player to reach 1,000 is like the icing on the cake you might say. It shows I have been on two pretty good teams here and have had really good teammates that make the game easy. It is a great honor to have my name up there with all the others who scored 1,000, but my competitive nature wants to be like ‘yeah, we are all up here but I did it the fastest.’”
The Justice name has been on the back of a jersey at VSU for five years now, as Beau’s brother Blake preceded him with three years with the Blazers, and is still with the team, now as an assistant coach, a fact which
Beau certainly appreciates.
“The influence that Blake has had on me is limitless,” says the younger Justice brother. “Not just in basketball, but in every day life. He is the person I am the tightest with and I am with him veery day. He has influenced me to become the person I am today on and off the court, from being little and wearing his clothes to be like him, or mimicking his actions on the court, to now having him as a coach is unreal”
“I want him as my coach because he makes me abetter player, teammate, leader, and person, but yes I am excited that I beat his records here,” he adds with a smile.
“The Justice family has impacted our program in a very positive way,” says Coach Helfer. “This is our fifth year with a Justice on our team and it has been special to watch and I can only imagine how special for their family.”
“Beau has impacted our program in the most difficult way-building a culture of winning. He brings a confidence and belief that we will win each night and that has spread throughout our entire team. That is very difficult to accomplish.”
As far as being the GSC Player of the Year, Justice does not take all the credit for that honor.
“I really think that Player of the Year is a team award, just as much as winning games together. Not one person can win a game, and I certainly did not win this award without my teammates. If it was not for them and the team success that we have had, I most likely would not be Player of the Year, but the award does inspire me to want to become an even better player and take my game to another level.”
“It is also really special to hear all my family members tell me how proud they are of me, hearing that means more to me than any award.” Beau’s father Brett, mother Billie Jo, and sister Jacey all still live in Peebles, and of course are all deeply involved in the game of basketball.
The Blazers stand at 26-4 at press time and are preparing for their opening round game in the Division II NCAA Tournament. They will battle Eckerd College in Atlanta on Saturday, March 10, but no matter how this season turns out, Justice and his coach have high hopes for his senior season.
“Some players might rest on a Player of the Year Award, but Beau won’t think like that,” says Coach Helfer. “He will use that award to make himself better and it will drive him to work harder than he has ever worked. I am looking forward to his senior year and coaching him again. He is like family to me and it will be a great ride. Knowing Beau, he will push our guys to the absolute limits this summer. He has that type of drive and personality. When you are around him, you almost feel like you have to give 110% or you will get left behind. That is a great sign of a leader and Beau is our leader.”
“As an encore for next year, I look forward to coming back as a better player after a good off season of improving my flaws,” says Beau. “I look forward to hopefully getting a three-peat regular season title and a conference championship as well. Awards come with the team, so I don’t worry about those. I want to be known as a winner, not just someone who won a few awards.”
“With God all things are possible, strive to have a relationship with him and be humble and hard-working and good things will happen. I have dedicated this season to my family as always but especially for my Mammaw Dorothy who passed away last summer. She never missed a game of mine in high school or college, and I know she is with me every game now.”