McBeth changes role after playing career


Photo: Kendra Plathe/Iowa State Daily

Austin McBeth cheers on his teammates during the game against Oklahoma on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones are now 19-8 after defeating the Sooners.

Dean Berhow-Goll

Austin McBeth played one of the most significant roles on this year’s ISU men’s basketball team, but it wasn’t the most recognizable part he played.

He never hit a big shot and never made a key defensive play. In fact, he was the only player on the roster not to score a point this year.

Instead, McBeth played different roles — a lot of them.

McBeth led the team onto the court for every warm-up. He was the first off the bench to celebrate a big play. He was the guy to pray with Chris Babb before every single game, not to mention praying with him after Babb severely sprained his ankle in the NCAA tournament.

Eventually McBeth started seeing things from a coach’s perspective, spotting team tendencies and what plays they were running during games, then calling them out to his teammates on the floor. 

You could even say McBeth was more coach than player — more teacher than student.

“I started working with [graduate assistants] throughout the season cutting up game tape into clips for practice,” McBeth said. “I was almost doing that as much as being a player.”

Now McBeth has applied to several Division I schools for coaching positions, but said a position as an assistant basketball coach at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a “good possibility.” He will find out at the end of this week.

McBeth didn’t have a role on the court contributing to the stats sheet. What he did contributed in ways that can’t be recorded in numbers. He coached from the bench during games, pointing out tendencies and plays from the opposing team.

Then McBeth realized he liked what he was doing and started taking on that sort of role more and more.

He started watching more film, but not the way most of the players did. Instead McBeth was on the coaching end of it, watching more and more, editing and cutting with the graduate assistant coaches and preparing it for the players.

McBeth realized this year that he wanted to be a coach after attending a coach’s clinic during the offseason and seeing what it was like.

The difference between McBeth and others may be the fact that the X’s and O’s aren’t what is most appealing to him.

In the same way he helped guide players this year, McBeth wants to guide the players that are exposed to a bright spotlight at such a young age.

“That’s my heart behind coaching,” McBeth said. “I want to see guys grow up and be successful. I want to see them get their degree. I want to see them become educated.

“I want to see them learn all of the good and the bad things that come with this game and the frustrations of losing and the joy of winning and to learn how to be a team and to give everything you can for your brothers and become a family.”

McBeth was even up for a graduate assistant position on the team next year with the team, but the coaching staff decided to go in a different direction. However, ISU coach Fred Hoiberg did leave the door open, saying even though he didn’t get it this year, they could talk down the road about a position.

“I think he’s going to be a terrific coach, I really do,” Hoiberg said.” He’s got a very bright future; I think Austin’s going to be a great coach one day.”