Highland boys basketball's Tate Bessire had no excuses for not being great

Highland Eaton boys basketball

(David Johnson/davidjohnsonphotography.org)

Tate Bessire learned at an early age that if he wanted to be great at basketball, he had no excuse to not reach the level of greatness he was aiming for.

It was a tough lesson and one that he learned because life dealt a bad hand to his older brother. But Ky, a 2015 graduate at Resurrection Christian, never sat around and complained. He merely got to work.

Ky was born with clubfoot, a rare birth defect in which one leg is twisted out of shape or position. There are less than 200,000 cases of clubfoot diagnosed in the United States annually. But one of those cases was Tate's older brother.

"It was really tough for him," Tate said. "He went through a lot of surgeries but he always had that drive to stay after practice and become the best player he could be."

Ky played basketball despite being born with a physical defect that would logically make the game difficult. But he loved it too much.

Ky's work ethic is where the seeds of Tate's selection as the 2019-20 Class 2A boys basketball Player of the Year were planted. As Tate grew up and saw the effort that Ky was giving to become the best player possible, he knew he wouldn't allow himself to give anything less.

"I've always looked up to him ever since I saw what kind of a hard worker he was for the game," Tate said. "I always talk to him and tell him that if he didn't have clubfoot, he could be a top player in the country just because of how hard he works."

Tate had no problem trying to carry that mantle for the both of them. In his senior season, he averaged 22.8 points, 6.2 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 5.1 steals per game.

"He absolutely fills up the stat box and puts in the work," Huskies coach Pete Freeman said. "As a coach you can teach a lot of stuff but you can't teach the court vision he has. The way he sees the court in unreal."

The Huskies play an aggressive style of defense that accounts for many of Tate's steals and assists. But the key to the full-court press that Freeman has installed is that it's all based on instinct rather than making sure certain players are at certain spots as their opponents bring the ball up the floor.

"A lot of it is anticipation and making the right reads," Freeman said. "All of our traps are based on reads so we're not calling them out and they're not in a system. They go when they want to go."

And Tate loves it. For as long as he can remember, he's been playing in defensive systems that utilize a full-court press. He's found in his basketball career that disrupting things on the defensive side of the ball will translate to a strong offensive attack.

He doesn't believe that his defensive and offensive abilities would exist without each other.

"I've always had to prove that I can do more than just score and pass," Tate said. "I can get boards and a lot of my talent comes from the defensive side."

He has evolved into a complete basketball player, which was always the plan in his mind. He'll look back at his senior season and always be grateful for being able to battle with his teammates. Among those teammates is his younger brother, Jase.

Jase appears to be following the same path as he averaged 19 points, 4.6 assists, 6.1 rebounds and five steals per game this season.

Apparently it's a family thing.

Both Bessire boys were a vital part of the Huskies 24-1 record this season and are hoping to play beyond high school.

If there's one thing that's almost guaranteed about their basketball future, it's that their drive and work ethic will never go away. It can't. The reminder of how their older brother worked as a basketball player built the foundation of how these boys approach basketball and life.

That kind of foundation will never crumble.