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June 28, 2012

Beal off the board early

Florida Gators guard Brad Beal got the best birthday gift a 19-year-old could ask for when he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

The second-highest player drafted in school history (matching Al Horford in 2007 but one spot behind Neal Walk in 1969), Beal is the first Florida star to ever be selected by the Washington franchise dating back to 1961. He will also be the first Gator to put on a Wizards uniform since Mike Miller (2009-10).

Originally believed to be a consensus top-seven pick when he first declared for the draft, Beal rocketed up draft boards over the last few months and it soon became obvious that he would go within the first three picks.

The only concern teams had about Beal was his relatively low regular season shooting percentage, but he proved during the 2012 NCAA Tournament that he could score as well as any player in college basketball when he shot 60.5 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from downtown while leading Florida to the Elite Eight.

Beal played a team-high 34.2 minutes per game for the Gators this season and averaged 14.8 points while leading the team in both rebounds (6.7) and steals (1.4).

He was named to the postseason All-SEC first team and SEC All-Freshman Team and even earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors six times over the course of the season.

As the No. 3 overall pick, Beal will sign a rookie contract worth approximately $17.7 million over four years and will be eligible for a one-year $6.2 million qualifying offer in 2015-16.

He will join a Washington team that was in desperate need of a starting shooting guard after acquiring center Emeka Okafor and forward Trevor Ariza to compliment point guard John Wall and power forward Nene.

Leading up to the second of Charlotte's selection at No. 2 overall, there was talk that the Bobcats could trade the pick to Cleveland, which also heavily coveted Beal. In the end Charlotte stood their ground and selected Kentucky F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, making it the first time in NBA Draft history that the top three selections all came from the same conference.

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