Florida incoming 2011 freshman shooting guard Brad Beal moved up in the latest ESPNU Top 100 prospects rankings released Thursday.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Beal was rated the fourth best overall prospect in the nation following his 17-point, 5-rebound performance in the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago last week.
Beal, named Gatorade National Player of the year earlier this week, trailed just top overall prospect Anthony Davis (6-10, 200, c, Kentucky), No. 2 prospect Austin Rivers (6-4, 189, pg-sg, Duke) and No. 3 prospect Michael Gilchrist (6-7, 210, f, Kentucky).
Rivers made a verbal commitment to Florida as a high-school freshman but changed his mind and signed with Duke last November.
Florida’s second 2011 commitment, 6-9 forward Walter Pitchford, did not crack the top 100. Pitchford is expected to sign his letter of intent to UF next week. Beal, who signed last November, was the 7th ranked prospect in the nation earlier this year.
Beal’s arrival will create an interesting dilemma for Florida coach Billy Donovan next season. With starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton returning, Beal could wind up coming off the bench his freshman season. Unless, of course, Donovan elects to start Boynton, Walker and Beal together and go with three guards in the starting lineup.
Donovan last went with a three-guard starting lineup in 2007-08, with Nick Calathes, Walter Hodge and Jai Lucas joining Dan Werner and Marreese Speights. Florida started with a promising 18-3 record before losing eight of their next 11 games, failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998.
With Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario eligible and Scottie Wilbekin back for his sophomore year, there will be more than enough in the backcourt next season. But Donovan will need to manage minutes carefully to keep everyone happy. Overall, though, it’s a good dilemma for Donovan to have.