The Real Deal is coming to a NBA city near you next season.
Florida Gators freshman guard Brad Beal, who led the team in minutes and rebounding last season, announced Friday that he will forego his three remaining years of NCAA eligibility and declare for the 2012 NBA Draft.
Beal, a consensus first-team All-SEC selection who averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 boards per game in his only season at Florida, is a sure-fire lottery selection in June but is expected to be one of the first five players selected in the draft according to a number of analysts including ESPN's Chad Ford.
"He has all the intangibles to be a great, great pro and to play a long, long time," head coach Billy Donovan said in a press conference to announce Beal's intentions on Friday. "Besides his basketball ability, the one thing I admire about him more than anything else from the time he stepped foot on this campus, he has been a great teammate. He has been really unselfish. He has worked incredibly hard. Winning is very important to him. Chemistry on a team is very important to him. Coming in and fitting in to a team with an experienced backcourt coming back, the way he handled himself the entire year was really remarkable in my opinion with so much expectations placed on him and him having his own individual expectations. I personally feel like he is ready for this next step in his life."
That next step is just getting started for Beal. In addition to finishing up his spring semester of college, Beal will have to hire an agent, travel for workouts and interviews, and begin preparing his body for the NBA. All of this has come suddenly for Beal who explained Friday that he had to fight back tears when telling Donovan of his intentions on Monday.
"It was just so hard to come in here the other day and tell Coach that I was leaving," Beal said in a statement. "I got very emotional when I was telling him. I love this place. I love this program. I really bought into the whole experience. I may not have had the best [season] I could have had, but in terms of just fun and enjoying the game it could not have been any better."
Beal said he never thought about leaving the Gators after a single season with the team and that he committed to Florida knowing he could very well remain with the program for four years. However, when it came down to making a decision on his future, Beal took his time and did things the right way, consulting with Donovan and his family and not allowing outside influences to factor into his process.
"It was the right time. Coach just told me, he said whenever I decide, whatever I decide, he said just make sure I'm at peace with it. That's basically what I was trying to do," he explained. "When it came down to it, I just wanted to make sure I was comfortable telling coach and just comfortable with my decision and just make sure I was 100 percent [because] there's no looking back now."
Donovan fully supported Beal's decision and does not have any reservations about him jumping to play professional basketball. In fact, he believes in Beal so much that he knows he will succeed no matter what role a team tasks him with filling.
"The one thing that's great about him is he has a great awareness about what a team needs and there's not really any area of the game that he cannot inject himself into and make an impact. That's the thing that's so special about him. Wherever you play him or whatever you ask him to do, if it's going to impact winning, he's going to do those things," he said.
"That's why I think he's a great player because he has such an impact on winning whether it's rebounding, whether it's defending, whether it's getting to the free throw line by taking it to the basket, whether it's extra passing, whether it's getting guys shots. He just has a real great understanding for a young kid of what goes into winning not only on the floor but even in the locker room, off the court chemistry-wise. He's really a special, special kid."
Click Here to view this Link.The first "one-and-done" player to leave for the NBA since Donnell Harvey in 2000, Beal will be competing with center Neal Walk (No. 2 overall in 1969) and forward Al Horford (No. 3 overall in 2007) to be the highest-drafted player in school history.
Beal's uncertainty about what team will draft him and who his new teammates will be was his primary concern about leaving early, but Donovan insists that neither of those factors will be an issue for him as he takes the next step in his career.
Instead he believes that Beal's maturity and level-headedness will get him through any difficult situation he faces as exemplified by the decision he made this week.
"I have to say, maybe more so than any player that I've coached, being young and obviously having a lot of years of eligibility in front of him, he may have been as mature as anybody I've been around for his age in terms of how he was looking at this decision, at this process," Donovan said. "All of the things that I would have wanted him to look at when it came time to make this decision he definitely did."