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Beckett Currie in good spot as his Camas days have ended

Guard’s decision to reclassify 4 years ago means WIAA eligibility has expired

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 9, 2024, 6:04am

As Camas High’s boys basketball career scoring leader and owner of other program records in just three seasons, point guard Beckett Currie has played his final game for the Papermakers.

That’s because Currie’s interscholastic eligibility in Washington has expired, even though the 2023-24 season was his junior campaign.

How is that possible? In 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Currie voluntarily reclassified, meaning he moved his high school graduation year to 2025 by doing eighth grade twice. Under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules, the reigning 4A Greater St. Helens League MVP won’t receive four years of eligibility for high school sports.

So, what’s next for Currie? He’ll head to Pennsylvania to play basketball in 2024-25 at The Phelps School, an all-male independent school near Philadelphia. In June, he verbally committed to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., an NCAA Division I program in the Patriot League, as part of its 2025 recruiting class.

Currie said he expects to be Phelps’ starting point guard on its national team when he arrives on campus next month after months of pondering what’s next.

“I’ll be in a really good spot,” Currie said. “It’ll be a great experience. The opportunities I’ll get out there will be really cool.”

COVID changed Currie’s path

Currie, 18, said he knew his junior season likely would be his last at Camas when he chose to reclassify four years ago with the support of his parents, Beth and Chris. Following Currie’s eighth-grade promotion from Camas’ Skyridge Middle School in 2020, the teen said initial uncertainty surrounding high school sports for 2020-21 because of COVID-19’s impact was the driving factor to rethink his high school journey. Prior to that, Currie was on track to graduate high school in 2024.

Currie knew early on he potentially would not have a senior season in Washington. According to the WIAA’s “Season Limitations” rule 18.15.0, a student’s eligibility clock runs six consecutive years once a student starts seventh grade. Voluntarily repeating a grade does not extend eligibility. Knowing that, Currie called his choice to reclassify “a really good decision.”

While high school sports occurred in 2020-21 in condensed formats, Currie did school and basketball on his own terms. He enrolled in an online home-school program for what he deemed a second eighth grade year and shifted his basketball focus to full-time individual skill development. He estimated basketball-related workouts topped 40 hours per week for 50 out of 52 weeks that year — a pivotal step in player preparation with his future goals in mind, he said.

When the 2021-22 school year arrived, Currie re-enrolled in Camas schools. He made Camas High’s varsity roster as a 16-year-old high school freshman.

“I knew that barring an injury, I was going to be a different type of player after the (2020-21) year,” Currie said. “For any kid looking to make a decision like that, 90 percent of it falls back on you. If you don’t put in the time to set yourself up for success, it’s a wasted year.”

Reclassifying is not uncommon, but has grown in popularity for reasons beyond academics. So much so, that high school state associations have cracked down on students who voluntarily sit out a year for athletic purposes. Pennsylvania’s governing body for high school sports adopted a new eligibility rule in 2023-24: any student who passes eighth grade and repeats it for no reason loses a year of high school sports eligibility.

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In Currie’s case, his WIAA six-year eligibility clock is complete. In 2023-24, his final year of eligibility, he averaged 23 points and 6.4 assists per game while helping the Papermakers to a second straight Class 4A state tournament berth.

‘I’m really happy where I’m at’

Camas athletic director Stephen Baranowski confirmed Currie’s eligibility has expired. A District IV eligibility hearing would be needed if Currie chooses to appeal for a senior season, Baranowski said. Hearings are held at the start of the fall, winter and spring sports seasons every school year.

“That appeal is not a guaranteed process,” Baranowski said, “so I think he’s got to make decisions that are right for him.”

Currie said he won’t appeal. He also briefly considered transferring to an Oregon high school for a senior season since Oregon School Activities Association rules state a student’s eligibility clock is four consecutive years from initial ninth-grade enrollment.

Ultimately, Currie said he envisioned attending a national-level prep school when he chose to reclassify. He had interest from a number of schools, including powerhouse Oak Hill Academy before choosing Phelps.

Why Currie reclassified wasn’t to gain a competitive edge in basketball, he said. Rather, the pandemic had him look at his future through a different lens and how best to make his goals happen.

“The way I approached it,” Currie said, “is it accelerated my development because I was able to solely focus on myself.”

In three seasons at Camas, Currie leaves with multiple program records, including career scoring (1,330 points), single-season scoring (575), tied for single-game scoring (44) and most 3s in a game (12).

Additionally, Currie said he accomplished everything he hoped to do — as a team and individually — in just three seasons.

“I have given every single drop of energy I have to being the best basketball player I could be,” Currie said. “Every decision I’ve made was, in my mind, the best decision at that time. And I think I’ve been so strong on my morals and values on every single one for such a long time that I can honestly say I’ve never strayed away from them in a way that’s made me regret a decision. I’ve seriously given everything to it, and that’s definitely not going to change.

“I’m really happy where I’m at, and where I’m hopefully going with it.”

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