Former Florida standout Bradley Beal player to watch at Olympic Games

Special to Gatorsports.com
United States' Bradley Beal.

USA Basketball is seeking a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal this summer. And one of the members of the team is familiar to Gator Nation.

NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, who played only one season (2011–2012) at the University of Florida, is on the roster.

“To be selected to the United States Olympic team is an honor and a blessing,” said Beal, who celebrated his 28th birthday last month. “Representing my country on the world’s biggest stage alongside so many of the league’s best players is a privilege that both humbles and inspires me.”

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: The U.S. won its third consecutive gold medal and pushed its Olympic winning streak to 25 games. Serbia went only 4-4 in Olympic play but won the silver, and Spain topped Argentina in a one-point game for the bronze.

WHAT’S NEW: Iran is back in the Olympic field for just the second time since 1948 and Japan, which got in automatically as the host nation, will play for the first time since 1976. Gregg Popovich takes over as U.S. coach, after Mike Krzyzewski’s run of three consecutive gold medals.

TEAMS THAT QUALIFIED: United States, Australia, Spain, France, Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Argentina. Four more spots to be awarded July 4.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: With top NBA players like Beal, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker and more, the Americans have to be the favorite for gold once again. But the U.S. finished only seventh at the Basketball World Cup two years ago, albeit with a much different roster. Australia is desperate for a breakthrough medal, France has high medal hopes and Spain is the reigning World Cup champion.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: Durant is seeking a third gold medal. Rudy Gobert (France), Beal and Lillard were All-NBA players this season (and a first-team All-NBA pick, Luka Doncic, will also be there if Slovenia qualifies).

GOLD MEDAL MOMENTS: The gold- and bronze-medal games are Aug. 7.