'Chouchou' Beyhurst loving playing for life-long favorite team Strasbourg
To encourage the development of more young local talents, the Basketball Champions League requires its teams to register at least 5 Home Grown Players on the game score sheet (if 11 or more players listed, otherwise 4 if roster has 10 or fewer players). Many of these players are considered top level talents in their respective countries and I will be taking a look at some of them over the course of the season.
STRASBOURG (France) - Ludovic Beyhurst still has a picture of former SIG Strasbourg star Ricardo Greer in his room at home. Now the young point guard is living the dream of playing for that same beloved club while getting a great education in the game - both at practice and in the Basketball Champions League.
Beyhurst just turned 20 years old on January 5 but he is already in his second campaign in the BCL, averaging 0.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 10 minutes a game. Those numbers are up from the 0.4 points, 0.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists and 0.4 steals he had in 7 minutes of nine games in 2017-18.
“This season I’m really a professional. The team trusts in me. Last year it was more like a plus, it was not expected. But thanks to that I have more experience now with a little bigger role,” Beyhurst said. “I don’t have a different mentality. I give my best every time and work to help the team. For sure there is a little bit more pressure than before, but it’s normal.”
Home sweet home - as fan of Eidson and Greer
Beyhurst feels at home at SIG Strasbourg because he was born and raised in Strasbourg. He grew up in a basketball family as his father and brother both played in the fifth division NM3 and his sister in the third division NF2. Ludovic started playing when he was 5 years old and grew up a fan of LeBron James and Derrick Rose.
Oh … and a fan of the home town club of SIG Strasbourg. Beyhurst grew up going to SIG games and rooting for the likes of Chuck Eidson and Ricardo Greer - Eidson playing there in 2006-07 and Greer from 2004-06 and 2010-14.
“When I saw Chuck Eidson play, after the game I would go to the gym and say: ‘Coach! Look my new move!’ It was exactly the same one that Chuck did against Lietuvos Rytas - a reverse behind-the-back layup. He was a model for me and I was inspired by him,” Beyhurst said.
And about Greer, he recalled: “Ricardo it was more his smile and his ability to do everything. I met him once and took his picture. That picture is still in my room (laughs).”
Special relationship with Ntilikina
It was only natural that Beyhurst move into the SIG Strasbourg youth teams and it was there as an 8 or 9 year old that he started to form a bond with Frank Ntilikina, who was born in Belgium but moved to Strasbourg when he was 3 years old.
“Since our childhood whenever we played it was like a battle. But off the court we became good friends, like brothers. When we played together, we destroyed every other team on the playground,” Beyhurst remembered. “We had a special relationship on the court. We knew everything, every move from the other. It’s like you’re playing with yourself.”
Frank Ntilikina and Ludovic Beyhurst grew up together and both have been favorites of the SIG fans.
Beyhurst and Ntilikina won a French youth championship together and were due to play together for France’s U16 national team in 2014. But an injury kept Beyhurst from playing at the FIBA U16 European Championship 2014 - and being part of the country’s first European U16 crown since 2004, a team that included Beyhurst’s current Strasbourg teammate Quentin Goulmy.
“Their title is maybe my worst regret,” said Beyhurst, who was a year younger than the rest of the players from the team except for fellow 1999-born Yves Pons.
Still, the relationship with Ntilikina remained strong and Beyhurst has happily followed his friend’s attempts to break through in the NBA.
“We talk with each other when we can and I admire his career. Since the beginning we have dreamt about that. We spend a lot of time together in the summer and work out sometimes,” Beyhurst said.
Next step as professional
June 29, 2018 saw Beyhurst take the next step in his development as he signed a professional contract with his favorite club.
“It is the first step of a career, just the beginning. It’s an honor to start in my city and be close to my friends and family. It’s important to have a good balance when you are young,” Beyhurst said.
The 5ft 9in (1.74m) point guard has become the “Chouchou” - or fan favorite - of Strasbourg supporters, something that really is special for the young talent.
Ludovic Beyhurst grew up as one of SIG Strasbourg's fans - now the fans root for him.
“It’s a special feeling. They give me more energy, and it helps to be more confident during the game. I love my city, I love the fans. I give everything I have. They deserve it,” he said.
Beyhurst has travelled Europe representing France but going around Europe with the SIG team logo on his jersey has a different feeling.
“It’s just different because I have the feeling of being a part of this city, and I know many people who support us and support me. So, maybe it’s more exciting than before.”
Three straight Quarter-Finals exits
Beyhurst’s national team career saw France three times reach the Quarter-Finals. But all three times, Beyhurst and co. were left wondering what if.
At the FIBA U16 European Championship 2015, France lost to Spain in the final eight but managed to grab fifth place and qualify for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016.
“It was regretful because we did not go that far but we were happy to reach the U17 World Cup,” said Beyhurst, who averaged 4.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Ludovic Beyhurst at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2016
At the U17 World Cup, France came back from 15 points down and went to overtime but lost to Lithuania 73-72 in the Quarter-Finals.
“We made so many mistakes at the beginning, but we were tight and had a great team. They made a big shot at the end but we were proud. With a better focus at the beginning, maybe we could have won the game,” said Beyhurst, who collected 5.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists as France finished sixth.
One of the biggest highlights of the U17 World Cup was watching the amazing athleticism and high flying act of Beyhurst’s teammate Yves Pons.
“It’s easy to play with him. He is one on my best friends and our connection on the court is something special. I throw the ball anywhere and he will get it. It’s just amazing,” Beyhurst said about playing with Pons.
The following summer saw Beyhurst and France squander a 13-point lead in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA U18 European Championship 2017 and lose to Spain in overtime by one point 86-85. Beyhurst averaged 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Learning from playing with vets, against great guards
Armed with the experience of playing against the best at the continental and world levels at his age group, Beyhurst has been getting invaluable tutelage the past season and a half at the professional level. Last season, Beyhurst got to learn from 29-year-old playmaker Dee Bost and 33-year-old point guard Zack Wright. And this season, the young point guard not only has 33-year-old Mike Green and 34-year-old Mardy Collins to learn from the guard positions but also from the 33-year-old Ali Traore and 38-year-old Florent Pietrus.
Ludovic Beyhurst has been taking in all the experience and lessons his older teammates have been giving him.
“It’s interesting to play with so many players with such great experience. They give me so much advice. It’s a real chance for me,” Beyhurst said. “I learn the patience and knowledge of the game and how I must manage my body as well.”
Beyhurst then can take the lessons he learns in practice and being around grizzled veterans and try to implement them against some of the great guards from Group D in the Basketball Champions League, including Tony Taylor, Kevin Punter, Nikos Gkikas, Rion Brown, Lorenzo Williams, Kyle Weaver, Kassius Robertson and David Stockton.
“I want be among them in the future. Sometimes it’s difficult, but I know I will be better next time because of that,” he said. “It’s a perfect experience to grow up. I have lot of respect for this kind of player.”
Beyhurst values his chance to be part of this Strasbourg team and their fight to reach the Basketball Champions League playoffs and possibly reach the Final Four.
“In the BCL, it’s faster and better. And the better it is the faster you progress and reach your goal. I know my goal and I know it’s a championship. I have a chance to be part of this competition with a great team,” he said.
Maybe one day soon, Beyhurst will be on the picture of a young SIG Strasbourg fan dreaming of playing for his home club - a dream that Ludovic Beyhurst is already living out.
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