BEVERYLY EAGER TO SHOW MIAMI HE BELONGS

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BEVERYLY EAGER TO SHOW MIAMI HE BELONGS
MIAMI — What Patrick Beverley's basketball career is best-known for has nothing to do with his game.

Nothing to do with the 29 points he scored in his first game at Arkansas, or winning the 2007 SEC newcomer of the year award, or helping the Razorbacks stun No. 4 Tennessee the next season.

It's about a paper he didn't write.

Beverley's demise at Arkansas came after he had another student write a paper for him, leading to his suspension from the team and ultimately his departure from school. Determined to rehabilitate his image but with few options, Beverley spent last year on a Ukrainian team, unsure if any NBA club would give him an opportunity.

"I learned from my mistakes," Beverley said.

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat believe him.

The Heat swung a late-draft-night trade Thursday with the Los Angeles Lakers, getting the 6-foot-1 point guard whom Miami's braintrust ranked as the 20th-best talent in the entire draft. Beverley was taken No. 42 overall, is no lock to even make the Heat roster, but his odyssey has at last led him to the NBA.

"He's for real with his enthusiasm and his effort and his hard work," said Riley, the Heat president. "He's going to make everything better as a practice player. He'll compete like heck against anybody. We felt very comfortable with his interview. He was very forthright, very honest about what happened at Arkansas. That's behind him and now he starts his pro career."

Miami had two picks Thursday, No. 43 (used on LSU guard Marcus Thornton, who was then traded to New Orleans) and No. 60, where the Heat grabbed Memphis small forward Robert Dozier.

The Heat aren't taking the academic scandal that Beverley got snarled in lightly. They checked him out fully, including talking to every coach in Beverley's past.

"Every single one of them stated that he is one of their favorite players," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Beverley hails from Chicago, a fact the Heat doesn't mind. They did well with another Chicago guy named Dwyane Wade.

And Beverley -- who averaged 13 points in his two seasons at Arkansas -- sees the irony in that he and Wade are now teammates.

Before leaving for the Ukraine last year, Beverley was working out in Chicago in the same gym as Wade. Somewhat shyly, he didn't approach the 2006 NBA finals MVP and reigning league scoring champion, whom he still hasn't met. That'll change soon.

"I knew he didn't know who I was and I definitely knew who he was," Beverley said.

Fast forward a year. Beverley gets through his season in the Ukraine, gets back on NBA radar screens. As his luck would have it, he and Wade and now about to become teammates.

"I definitely, definitely want to come in and be a valuable piece to the Miami Heat and just do what I can, you know, to make the playoffs through whatever I can to win more games," Beverley said. "So if that's helping Dwyane, getting in the right spot, feeding Dwyane on the break, that's the things at the end of the day I can do because I definitely want to win."

The Heat already see a lot of value in Beverley.

He's only 6-foot-1, but his wingspan is 6-foot-9. He blocks shots and rebounds very well for a guard, and excels on the defensive end -- very similar to Mario Chalmers, whom Miami acquired in the second round of last year's draft and saw him start every regular-season and playoff game for the Heat.

"He's not a small guard," Riley said. "He led all of the guards in rebounding and blocked shots. I sort of liked that combination with Dwyane. He's a defensive-minded player who rebounds, blocks shots, really gets out, picks you up full court, has a real presence. For us to get him at 43, that's a great pickup."

Beverley calls himself "a Pat Riley type of player," and says he's eager to get to Miami and show that the troubles of his past won't affect his future.

"At the end of the day, I admit, I definitely was wrong in that situation," Beverley said. "I definitely served my punishment ... and became a better man. It takes huge adversity to really judge a man's character. I've been through it, and now I've been drafted by the Miami Heat. So I feel great."

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