Beal not wavering on commitment to UF hoops

Published: Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 2, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There are off nights and then there are nights when nothing goes your way.

Florida verbal commitment Bradley Beal battled through one of those nights in the finals of the AAU Super Showcase at the Disney Sports Complex. His dead-eye shooting touch was off. His attempts to drive to the basket were forced and rushed, sometimes resulting in ill-advised shot attempts or turnovers.

Afterward, Beal called it, “the worst game of my life.” Beal finished with 12 points, going 5 of 15 from the floor and 1 of 5 from 3-point range.

“There were things I could have done and should have done better,” Beal said after his team, the St. Louis Eagles, lost 77-60 to Each One Teach One Elite. “But I live on and this game is done with.”

The performance belied the summer that Beal had. Earlier in July, the five-star, 6-foot-3, 177-pound guard earned MVP honors at the FIBA 17-under world championships in Hamburg, Germany. Beal averaged 18.3 points per game during the tournament, shooting 51 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point range.

Florida coach Billy Donovan and assistant Rob Lanier traveled to Germany to watch Beal play.

“That meant a lot,” Beal said. “That shows that they are really interested. I mean there were a lot of coaches there but just being able to see them there, that really shocked me a lot.”

Donovan and Lanier were in the stands again last Tuesday night, watching Beal in the AAU Showcase finals. Beal shrugged off speculation that he may de-commit, and that Kansas has suddenly come into play.

“No, I am not (de-committing),” Beal said. “I hear rumors all the time.”

A smooth-shooting, soft-spoken guard from St. Louis, Beal said Florida's style of play sold him in making a commitment to the school last fall.

“It is somewhat of a guard-oriented school and it's a great system,” Beal said. “I mean it's up and down, they get after it so it's a system that I think fits me best.”

There's another connection. Beal goes to the same high school (Chaminade College Prep) as former Florida All-SEC forward and St. Louis native David Lee. Lee, an NBA All-Star who was recently traded to the Golden State Warriors, credits his time at UF for helping him get prepared for the next level.

“He comes back to the school a lot,” Beal said of Lee. “During lunch period, I'll see him and talk to him a little bit.”

Beal's AAU coach, Dale Turner, said his star guard has displayed a high-level of humility.

“He mixes well with his teammates,” Turner said. “He doesn't want to stand out. You guys probably don't recognize or realize it, but he doesn't like all of the attention. He wants to be regular kid. That's what I like about him. He's so grounded.”

Turner began coaching Beal at 15, but knew of him in St. Louis basketball circles when he was just in seventh grade.

“When he was 15 everybody said he was just a jump shooter,” Turner said. “Well he's not just a jump shooter anymore. He can drive. He can pass. The last couple of years, he's made it his business to be a good defender. He can defend. He'll rebound. He will do whatever is asked of him.”

Beal said there's still more he wants to improve upon during his senior season of high school. He can sign a letter of intent at Florida as early as this November.

“I have a lot to improve on,” Beal said. “My quickness, my ball-handling, defense more than anything. I just have to stay in the gym and keep lifting weights, keep getting stronger.”

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