Third pick Beal bound for Washington
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 29, 2012 at 12:30 a.m.
Former Florida guard Bradley Beal said in April he agonized over the decision to leave school after just one season.
That move turned out to be justified on Thursday. On the night of his 19th birthday, Beal found out he's heading to the nation's capital, taken third overall in the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.
“This is a dream come true, and in the back of my mind, I was hoping I was coming here,” Beal said. “My prayers were answered. I really can't wait to get around with the guys and get on the court to get things rolling.”
In Washington, Beal will team with former Kentucky standout John Wall to form a potentially dynamic backcourt. Wall was taken as the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.
“He is a good player,” Wall said. “He is another good piece for our team to grow. We will be able to work together as a team to help him learn and work hard on and off the court.”
Reports spread before the draft that both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder were working on deals with the Charlotte Bobcats to move up to the second overall pick to select Beal. But after the New Orleans Hornets took Anthony Davis with the first overall pick, the Bobcats held the pick and took Davis' former teammate, Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
That left Washington to take the smooth-shooting, 6-foot-4 Beal.
“We were hoping he would fall to three,” Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. “He's a very good young player. He is an outstanding shooter, very good perimeter player and a good defender.”
Both Grunfeld and Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman also gave Beal high marks for his character.
“He has a lot of things to learn in front of him, but we are really pleased to be able to get a player with his abilities and his character,” Grunfeld said.
Said Wittman: “He has a willingness to defend and rebound, and those are things that go into being a quality player. And then on top of it is the person. That's really the thing that sold me. Not only can he play, but he's a good quality person characterwise.”
Beal averaged 14.8 rebounds and led the Gators in rebounding (6.7 rpg) and steals (51) in his lone season at Florida. He shot 34 percent from 3-point range, but improved his shooting as the season progressed. Beal shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament, helping to lead the Gators to their second straight Elite Eight appearance.
Beal said he feels like he can mesh with Wall.
“The way he plays is fast, and that's the style of play I love to play,” Beal said. “I hope to create some space and be able to knock some shots down for him.”
Beal is Florida's 11th first-round draft pick in school history. He is UF's first lottery pick since Al Horford (3rd overall, Atlanta Hawks), Corey Brewer (7th overall, Minnesota Timberwolves) and Joakim Noah (9th overall, Chicago Bulls) all were taken within the first 14 picks of the 2007 draft.
Beal matched Horford as the second-highest drafted Gator in school history behind Neal Walk (2nd overall, Phoenix Suns, 1969).
Overall, Beal is the 34th Florida player drafted in school history and 16th under current head coach Billy Donovan.
“I know this is a dream come true for Brad,” Donovan said. “This is a great accomplishment, and I'm very proud of Brad and excited for him, as are his family and everyone else here at Florida. He has an outstanding opportunity in front of him, and the Wizards have added a great player and person to their team.”
Beal's drop from second to third in the NBA draft could wind up costing him about $2 million. The NBA rookie slotting salary scale for the second overall pick is $19.7 million over four years, while the third pick is $17.7 million over four years. NBA rookie contracts are guaranteed for two years, with two one-year team options.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.