Former Gator Bradley Beal is Having His Best Season Yet in the NBA
What could feel like forever ago given the rollercoaster ride of a season Florida basketball has endured to this point, just nine short years ago, the Gators saw an uber-talented team take the floor for them in 2011.
That team included one of the best freshmen—if not the best—to ever step on the court inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Who is that player? Current Washington Wizards Guard Bradley Beal, who is tearing up the NBA with his performance this season.
Averaging 29.2 points per game along with 6.3 assists, Beal has put together his best season to date since being drafted as the third overall pick in 2012.
With his performance this season, he’s showing the potential that he was selected for and more.
During his time at Florida, Beal had the privilege to play for one of the best minds in basketball history and Gator legend Billy Donovan where he was molded into a top-five pick.
In that one year he spent with the Gators developing his craft, Beal helped lead them to a 26-11 record and their first Elite Eight appearance since winning back to back National Championships in 2006 and 2007.
Alongside the likes of Patric Young, Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, and Erik Murphy, Beal played a significant role in the team’s success during the regular season and come tournament time.
On top of his 6-3, 207 lb. frame, his limitless range and smooth stroke when shooting the basketball made him a hot commodity for NBA teams. Finishing his one season at Florida averaging 14.4 points on 45% shooting, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, Beal flashed potential that had NBA scouts drooling at his abilities.
Earning First Team All-SEC honors and playing the third-most minutes out of all players in the SEC, Beal was a highly consistent and reliable piece in the defeats of Virginia, Norfolk State, and Marquette in NCAA tournament play before losing to Louisville in the elite eight.
He was a vital piece in the reestablishment in the legitimacy of the program following years of disappointment after their championship squad disassembled.
Now, putting the same skills on display that were seen in raw form in college, Beal is attempting to sneak the Wizards into the 8th seed in the East in the second half of the season.
Without the presence of his star counterpart John Wall this season, he has been the heavily relied upon to keep the young and inexperienced Wizards team afloat.
Struggling to do so thus far into the year, as the team is 18-32, Beal has a chance to prove the doubters wrong and lift the Wizards into the playoffs after being snubbed from a third consecutive All-Star appearance this season.
Nevertheless, following the All-Star break, the Wizards look to make that unexpected push into the playoffs. A feat that cannot be accomplished without working through the elite guard that once resided in Gainesville.