CAMAS — While pondering his potential on the basketball court, Beckett Currie’s mind is filled with constant questions.
How can I get better?
Can I be the best player to ever come out of my school?
How good can I really be?
For Currie, a sophomore on the Camas boys basketball team, seeking out those answers drives him to devote long hours to the sport he loves “more than anything in the entire world.”
On any given day, in addition to a practice with his high school team, Currie goes through as many as three or four workouts between the early morning and evening in different locations around Clark County and the Portland-metro area.
His intense, regimented and hard-working approach puts Currie in a class of his own among players Camas head coach Ryan Josephson has guided through the program. The rest of the state is taking notice as well. In a game against Silas last month at the Hardwood Invite in Seattle, Currie set a single-game program record in 3-pointers made (12) and tied a scoring record with 44 points. On Tuesday, he helped lead Camas to a win over 4A Greater St. Helens League rival Union with a game-high 28 points.
“How often are you going to find someone who’s willing to just dedicate everything in a single-minded focus to a sport like that?” Josephson said. “Especially at his age where he’s a sophomore, and still has multiple years to continue getting better and refining what he does.”
The wake-up alarms typically go off around 5 a.m., sometimes even earlier for Currie to drive as far as Kelso for the first workout of the day before school and practice.
He primarily trains with Jesse Norris, the head coach of the Columbia River High girls program, as well as Ashley Corral, a Prairie High graduate and former WNBA player who runs Legends Basketball Facility in Vancouver.
Currie and his trainers call the two-hour workout his “vitamins,” a daily dose of ball-handling routines, somewhere between 250 and 500 shots, drills that incorporate a defensive movement into a shot, or a sprint into a shot, for example, as part of a high-intensity workout harder than game speed.
“He’s definitely maniacal about his approach to things,” said Norris, a former Mountain View High standout in the mid-2000s.
“You can tell he’s built that confidence. He thinks he knows things because he’s worked through them so much. It’s a different level than I’ve seen, especially at his age.”
Next comes practice with Camas (unless it’s a game day) for at least another two hours, followed by a weight room workout later in the day.
At night, if Currie’s body feels OK after everything else, he’ll make one more stop at a gym for a lighter shootaround with the goal of hitting another 250 to 500 shots.
“Every day, it’s a constant challenge to basically hit the max of the bell curve where I’m not doing too little, but I’m not doing too much,” Currie said. “Because I’ve worked out so long, right around three or four workouts a day is optimal.”
Currie’s training habits can be traced back to first grade when he would go to Firstenburg Community Center in Vancouver on many afternoons after school to play basketball and stay until it closed at 9 p.m.
By middle school, he was often playing against older, high-school age athletes, including players at Camas.
Josephson, though already aware of Currie and his game, was a little surprised when people told him Currie would be ready to contribute right away as a freshman, simply because of how rare it is.
Then, the head coach started hearing about Currie’s jam-packed workout schedule.
“Is this for real or is he just a talker?” Josephson thought. “But pretty soon, I’m getting called in through the summer for extra shootarounds, and can I open the gym, and my wife is getting mad at me because I’m not supposed to be coming to the school that much. I realized it’s the real deal. He doesn’t even talk about a lot of what does unless something notable happens. He’s just kind of flying under the radar with his workouts, doing it for himself.”
Coming into high school, Currie wanted to make an immediate splash. He had conversations with senior teammate Carson Frawley about his approach to push even harder and add more workouts to his plate. But he soon realized the plan wasn’t sustainable.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to be working out four times a day on top of practice, I’m going to go ridiculous,’” Currie recalled. “And it resulted in a lot of small, nagging injuries that could’ve been prevented if I had just taken my foot off the gas a little bit and still worked hard, but been smarter.”
Josephson has also had his share of concerns about Currie’s regiment.
“Throughout the season he’s telling me he’s going to get in these morning workouts and I’m like, ‘Beckett, you’re going to grind yourself out before we even get to the first game,'” he said. “We’ve had lots of conversations about trying to moderate and he’s just built a little differently. Those conversations, it sounds like maybe he listened a little bit and he’s adjusted. But he also had to learn that the hard way in some cases through his freshman year.
“Even now, I would still love for him to scale back. But he’s so built on this schedule. He’ll tell me, ‘if I don’t get my shots up before the game, then I don’t feel right going into the game.’ He’s got to get in his pregame workout, that’s just something he operates on.”
Workouts aside, there are signs of a player gaining wisdom and maturity in his second high school season. After playing a supporting role for last year’s Camas squad that went 20-4, Currie is shining as a sophomore in the Papermakers’ backcourt alongside senior point guard Theo McMillan.
Currie’s shooting was on full display on Dec. 17 against Silas with a 44-point outing that tied a program record set by Frawley last season. After the game, Currie got a taste of teams focusing their entire defensive gameplan around shutting him down.
“That’s a new experience for him and there really isn’t a way to prepare for that outside of playing through it,” Josephson said. “Now he’s going to be going into his junior and senior years having had teams trying to throw the entire kitchen sink at him, and everything will be on autopilot at that point.”
His coaches and trainers know the sophomore will continue to improve his skills, grow bigger and stronger throughout his high school career. Those things are a given. The bigger leap will likely come on the mental side of the game, where he’s already grown from last season.
“Freshman year, every game I was so internal about it,” Currie said. “I’d come into the game and I’m not able to take a step outside of the game and really think, ‘OK, what’s there? How can I execute? How can I make a good play?’ It was very much, I’m caught up in the heat of the game and I’m not able to take a step back and think about it.”
This year, when he has a slow start or a play that doesn’t go his way, Currie’s attention goes to identifying the mistake, fixing it and executing.
There’s also this: the sophomore now believes he has to come into every game with “a massive chip on my shoulder.”
“Whoever is in front of me, we have a personal problem. I don’t like you, I won’t like you, I hate you when I play you,” he said. “And, this is terrible, but a lot of games, I want the person in front of me to not want to play basketball when they walk off the court. … Leave and be like, ‘maybe this isn’t for me.'”
As Currie continues to evaluate and think about his potential, he doesn’t want to have any regrets about not doing more when he’s done with basketball. Even on days when he’s running short on motivation, it’s one of the things pushing him to the gym early in the morning and late at night.
“It makes me sick thinking about being able to say, ‘well, if I just did this, I could’ve been a little bit better,’” Currie said.
“Just falling in love with the details and being so consumed by it, it’s an obsessiveness thing. It’s all I think about.”