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Dorial Green-Beckham and his family relieved that hoopla has passed

Saturday, March 10, 2012 | 6:08 p.m. CST; updated 2:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 4, 2012
Dorial Green-Beckham, a senior on the Hillcrest boys basketball team and top Missouri football recruit, takes the ball down the court against Soldan on Saturday in the Class 4 state championship game. Soldan won 55-42. Green-Beckham left open the possibility this might not be the last weekend he plays basketball at Mizzou Arena. Both Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel and Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith have apparently left that option open.

COLUMBIA — John Beckham no longer welcomes his adopted son with a simple, "Hello, Dorial."

He offers a daily reminder, instead.

"My new greeting is, 'You better catch a lot of passes,'" Beckham said.

Thirty-eight days have passed since Dorial Green-Beckham, the top football recruit in the nation, signed a letter of intent to play for Missouri. The overwhelming hysteria preceding that signature has abated.

This weekend at the high school state boys basketball finals at Mizzou Arena, there were no M-I-Z, D-G-B chants or posters with a gigantic photo of his face. Where the Antlers fan group usually stands, only a husband, wife and child sat, and there were no more than 50 people in the usual Missouri student section.

Twitter did not explode when the 6-foot-6, 220-pound athlete threw down two dunks and scored 24 points in Hillcrest’s Class 4 semifinal victory Friday.

"I haven't been bugged all the time," Green-Beckham said Friday at Mizzou Arena, where Hillcrest (Springfield) High School was playing in the Class 4 basketball semifinals. "I feel like my life is just … right there now. I finish up this year, and I'll be here next year."

To say life has returned to normal for Green-Beckham and his family would be simplifying things. After all, the recruiting courtship was a multiple-year ordeal — life hasn’t been normal in a while.

And while the incessant calls from coaches and reporters have mostly ceased, letters from grateful fans across the state of Missouri continue to arrive. People send posters for fundraisers and ask for Green-Beckham’s autograph. Others request public appearances. The high school senior will speak at a conference for foster children in May in San Francisco.

"It's been incredible," John Beckham said. "He struck a chord with people. Hopefully he can perform a little bit."

Indeed, John Beckham, the football coach at Hillcrest, is trying to prepare his son for the "unrealistic" expectations that await. He pointed out the stable of experienced receivers the Missouri football team already has, and the small number of young players who saw the field last season. Not a single true freshman played.

"He's just another guy coming in, and he’s got work to do,” Beckham said. "There's a new No. 1 recruit in the country, and it's not Dorial, it's somebody else."

At the same time, though, John Beckham said he thinks his son is ready. He said Green-Beckham never crossed the thin line between confidence and cockiness and that he never let the hoopla get to his head.

"I'm amazed, he's always handled it pretty well," John Beckham said. "I think he understands that in a few months it won’t matter."

John Beckham said that Darnell Green-Beckham, Dorial's younger brother who is recovering from leukemia, still has a long way to go but is doing well. The Missouri football staff also offered him a scholarship to either play or be a student assistant. John Beckham said many schools did so, and he didn't think it affected Dorial Green-Beckham's decision at all.

"Also, Darnell's the kind of the kid who wants to prove he deserves it on his own," John Beckham said. "I think he will, hopefully so, we'll see how that goes."

Hillcrest basketball coach holds onto special lucky charms

When John Schaefer decided to sit Dorial Green-Beckham with four fouls and six minutes remaining in Hillcrest's semifinal game against Imagine College Prep on Friday, the self-proclaimed superstitious coach called upon the two lucky charms in his jacket pocket.

One is his grandfather's handkerchief. The other is his grandmother's guitar pick.

After Hillcrest hung on to win the game and advance to the finals, Schaefer shared the story behind that guitar pick, which has a brown and cream swirl design.

When his grandmother, Charlene Jones, was a teenager, she played guitar in one of Porter Wagoner's first bands. Wagoner, the country and gospel singer from West Plains, is famous for what Schaefer called "those god-awful rhinestone jackets."

Schaefer, who grew up in Hartville, said Jones told him stories of recording studios in shacks "like those you see in the movies." Schaefer was close to both of his grandparents, who came to all of his sporting events when he was in high school.They died about 15 years ago on dates about six months apart.

This weekend happens to be the 20th anniversary of Schaefer's own trip to Columbia for the state semifinals. He was a sophomore on the Hartville High School team that made it in 1992.

Schaeffer, 35, hasn't mentioned the symmetry to his players, but he was visibly exhausted, and relieved, when they avoided Hartville's fate of losing in the semifinals.

"I know how bad that sucks because you had a chance to win," he said after Friday's victory. "I just kept going through that in my head. You have to play that third-place game, and that sucked. That was probably my motivation out there today."


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