When he was 14 years old, Keyonté Beals left home in North Preston, Nova Scotia in Canada to pursue the opportunity of playing prep basketball in the United States. A CP3 Rising Stars Camp invitee in 2018 and Canadian men’s junior national team member in 2019, Beals most recently finished his junior season at Malden Catholic High School (MA) and currently suits up for the Team Spartans (MA) AAU program alongside 2022 top-50 big man Donovan Clingan. The 6’4” lefty combo guard is a distributor who thrives getting into the lane and making plays for his teammates.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Beals discusses how the opportunity to play basketball in the U.S. emerged, his recruitment update, what the community of North Preston, Nova Scotia means to him, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Keyonté Beals, from North Preston, Canada:
Pro Insight: Talk a bit about your background.
Keyonté Beals: I grew up in North Preston, Nova Scotia. I lived there until I was about 14 years old and I moved to the states and I went to junior boarding school here, since.
PI: How did the opportunity to play basketball in the U.S. come about?
KB: I have a mentor, kind of a coach back home. His name is “Ming” Naofall Folahan. He played Division I at Wagner and he went to high school at Wilbraham & Monson [Academy]. He played a little bit of pro in the states and in Canada and he kind of settled down in Halifax where he got his family and everything. And he reached out to me when I was in eighth grade and he just kind of wanted to start working with me or whatever. And like, he's someone that went through the same path that I want to go through. So it was like, why not learn from someone that's been through what you want to go through?
PI: What went into the decision to move down and play prep school basketball in the U.S.?
KB: The exposure and the competition level. You know, that was such a huge factor in just like me setting myself up and my family up for the next level.
PI: Which schools have you attended?
KB: In eighth grade, I went to Hillside School (MA) in Marlborough. It was a middle school. And then in ninth grade, I went to Rectory [School] (CT) and 10th grade, my whole 10th grade year, I went to Vermont [Academy] (VT). And then the start of my junior year at Vermont. And then I left in the middle of the year and I went to Malden Catholic [High School] (MA).
PI: What other sports did you play growing up?
KB: I played soccer and I played football.
PI: Did any of these sports translate to basketball?
KB: I think soccer did because that's the sport that I played most recently. When I was in middle school and the start of my 10th grade year, I played striker for both teams. So I was getting in shape and used to running up and down the field and that just translated to basketball,0 easily.
PI: Did sports run in your family?
KB: Yes, but no at the same time. I have a few cousins that played Division I and cousins in my family, but nothing from my mom and my dad's side.
PI: Do you have any siblings?
KB: I have two older sisters.
PI: What are some of your biggest interests outside of basketball?
KB: I like just really hanging around with friends and playing video games and spending time with my family.
PI: What video games are you currently playing?
KB: I've been just playing Grand Theft Auto and [NBA] 2K, really. That's pretty much it. I got the Xbox.
PI: What apps are you on the most?
KB: TikTok. TikTok and I would probably say Snapchat the most.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
KB: I like listening to NBA Youngboy, A Boogie [wit da Hoodie], Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Baby probably the most.
PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths?
KB: I think my greatest strength is that I can get to the basket. And then me getting myself to the basket is allowing the defense to trap in on me and then that allows me to distribute to my teammates. So I find getting to the basket and finding my open player to be my strengths. I love passing to get my teammates involved in the game.
PI: Who do you model your game after and study on film?
KB: I've been watching a lot of Ashton Hagans — the guard that played at Kentucky. I've been watching a lot of him. He's similar. I find that we have similar games. He's a two-way guard. He plays defense. He's a defensive-first guard and his defense opens up his offense.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
KB: Toughest individual matchup…probably Kadary Richmond, guard from Syracuse. We played them last year when he was at Brewster [Academy] and I was at Vermont [Academy]. Being one of the youngest guys, I felt like I held my own.
PI: What have been some of the challenges of being recruited during COVID?
KB: Challenges have really been for me...because on my AAU team, I'm the only kid that didn't have a junior high school season. So I think the only challenge for me really was just getting back and getting back in full swing with the physicality and everything to the game and the speed of the game.
PI: What is your recruitment update?
KB: I've been talking to a few. I'm talking to Princeton, Brown, Iowa. I was talking to Holy Cross, Loyola Chicago.
PI: And you have an offer from Bryant?
KB: Yes, I do have an offer from Bryant.
PI: What are you looking for in a college?
KB: Family environment, to be honest. Like somewhere where I can go in where I feel welcomed and my family feels welcomed and where I feel wanted and I can adjust to their system or I fit in their system properly.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player and as a person?
KB: I would say graduate high school is my main one. And then I'm not really too stressed about all my college recruitment because that will come. My coach always tells me just to focus on your game and the college recruitment is going to come, the offers are going to come. So I've been just really focusing on finishing up school this year. And then this summer, I have a short-term goal to get to about 190 [lbs.] at the end of the summer. I am 179 right now.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
KB: Success is...I find success is different for everyone because everyone has their own limit. Like, not everyone can go to the same place. So I find if you feel that you're successful, then that's success to you. I don't really know how to explain it, but it's like everyone has their own limit and not everyone has the same success. So I don't find success to be like, “because he got to the NBA and I didn't get there, then I failed,” because everyone's path is different. So I just find that success is different for everyone.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
KB: My mom. I think my mom was the biggest one because I've been living with her since I was born — just me and her alone, so I think she's my biggest role model. I see everything she's done for me and my sisters.
PI: What does the community of North Preston mean to you?
KB: North Preston means a lot. I grew up in North Preston since I was younger. And like, I can walk outside North Preston whenever and walk up to every single house. And I was welcomed right away. Everyone wants you around. It's like a family environment. There are people that aren't even my family, but I still call them aunts and uncles just because of the relationships that everyone has. And it's in the support that I find the most. That's something that's allowed me to be where I am today because I left when I was 14 years old. And the support that I've had is like, “I don't want to settle down and be satisfied with this.” I have to push because I have a whole community behind me.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for?
KB: For me personally, I want to be remembered as a person that was never satisfied. There’s times when I'm lifting or something or like I'm on The Gun [shooting machine]. Like I shot 300 shots, but I want to shoot more. So I'll shoot like an extra 20 or something and I’ll be like “nah, I want to shoot more.” But I just, I just never want to be satisfied. That's how I want to be remembered — never satisfied.