Florida Gators: Bradley Beal

Beal getting ready for NBA draft

June, 19, 2012
6/19/12
12:49
PM ET
Former Florida Gator guard Bradley Beal talks about what he is working on before the NBA draft.
Here’s Chad Ford’s latest stab at how the first round will play out, taking into account buzz from the draft combine.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Soon-to-be ex-Gator shooting guard Bradley Beal must have tuned into the NBA draft lottery on Wednesday night to sneak a peak at which teams have a chance to draft him on June 28.

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Jeff Blake/US PresswireBradley Beal is expected to be picked high in the NBA draft on June 28.
ESPN NBA draft guru Chad Ford has him going anywhere from No. 2 overall to No. 5. A case could be made for any of those teams -- Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland or Sacramento -- drafting the talented and versatile Beal.

Beal is among the 60 players invited by the NBA to the Chicago pre-draft camp from June 7-8. Until then, let the speculation run rampant!

In his latest mock draft (5.0), Ford has the Washington Wizards drafting Beal with the No. 3 overall pick. Ford also has Beal No. 3 on his list of the top 100 prospects behind only Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

In his evaluation, Ford calls Beal "an excellent athlete and can do just about everything on the floor. He can handle the ball, get to the basket, shoot the 3 with NBA range and he can even play point guard in a pinch." Ford says scouts were impressed with Beal's 6.7 rebounds per game, which led the Gators last season. But observers had some concerns about Beal's much-ballyhooed shooting touch (he shot 34 percent from 3-point range).

ESPN's Doug Gottlieb also ranked the top prospects available and pegged Beal at No. 2 overall, calling him a "prototype 2" who "should translate into an NBA shooting guard right away, especially with his athleticism and range."
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan was upbeat on Friday during the news conference announcing Bradley Beal's decision to enter the NBA Draft.

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Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesGators coach Billy Donovan said he will miss Bradley Beal's team-first attitude and work ethic.
He is obviously sad to see Beal leave, but Donovan shouldn't be devastated for two reasons: He knows things could have been a lot worse, and he had been planning for just this situation.

As the season ended with a loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight, there was speculation the Gators would lose four of their five starters. Erving Walker is graduating, but Beal, Patric Young and Kenny Boynton were also considering leaving. Young and Boynton, however, elected to stay, which means the Gators will have one of the Southeastern Conference's top scorers and big men on the floor in 2012-13.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Little-used forward Walter Pitchford is leaving the Florida basketball program to transfer to a school closer to his home in Michigan because of a family situation, the school announced Wednesday.

The 6-foot-10, 221-pound Pitchford played in just 13 games and scored just six points. He went 3-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range. He grabbed four rebounds.

"It’s definitely the best thing for him and his family, just with some of his extenuating circumstances," UF coach Billy Donovan said in a statement. "Right now, he just needs to be near his family. They need him home and they want him home.”

Pitchford's departure means the Gators have 12 players on scholarship (including three incoming freshmen), one shy of the NCAA limit. UF hopes to still add power forward recruit Anthony Bennett, who said he will announce his school choice in May. Guard Bradley Beal also is considering leaving early for the NBA Draft and has until April 29 to decide.


PHOENIX -- There is nowhere to hide. There are no secrets to keep and no shocking, revolutionary game plans to unveil.

With Louisville and Florida, this would also be the case in November: Is there a high-profile coaching duo as familiar with one another as Rick Pitino and his former star player and pupil, Billy Donovan? No.

That familiarity will play a factor, no doubt ... but it's also the default situation for any two teams squaring off with a Final Four berth on the line. By this point, the Cardinals and Gators are what they are. Both teams have revealed themselves in their three NCAA tournament victories to date. And both coaches will prepare their teams accordingly.

What do those preparations entail?

There's the obvious strength-on-strength matchup: Over the course of the season, Florida's offense has been one of the best and most efficient in the country. As of Friday's pregame press conferences, the Gators ranked No. 3 in adjusted efficiency, per KenPom.com. Louisville, meanwhile, has likewise been a great defensive team all season -- after Thursday night's historically brutal lockdown of No. 1-seeded Michigan State, the Cardinals rank No. 1 in the nation in defensive efficiency.

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PHOENIX -- The No. 7 seeds in the 2012 NCAA tournament were as follows:

Notre Dame. Saint Mary's. Gonzaga. Florida.

Sing it with me now: One of these things is not like the others.

For starters, Florida was the only No. 7 seed to survive the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, and the only one -- after Thursday's 68-58 victory over Marquette -- to reach the Elite Eight and the one-game-from-the-Final-Four precipice it so intensely entails.

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PHOENIX -- A quick recap of Florida's 68-58 win over Marquette Thursday night:

Overview: Maybe Florida can defend after all. The Gators' defense has been their chief deficiency all season, the one major factor keeping such a talented team -- and such a high-powered offense -- from truly breaking through. But after two huge defensive performances in their first two tournament wins, the Gators kept it up, holding Marquette stars Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom to a combined 29 points on just 10-of-30 shooting from the field.

Turning point: As usual, Florida's shooting made the difference. The Gators maintained a six-point lead for the first six minutes of the first half when Erving Walker and Bradley Beal made back-to-back 3s, opening a 12-point advantage the Gators more or less maintained until the final three minutes. That's when Marquette -- thanks to a steal, a timeout call, a made 3 and a fast-break layup, all from Todd Mayo, all in the matter of 50 seconds -- drew the game back to 58-52.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five things to watch for in tonight's Florida-Marquette matchup in the Sweet 16 (10:17 p.m. ET on TBS) in Phoenix, Ariz.

Who wins the 3-point line? Florida was terrible from long range in its victory over Virginia (4-for-23) but rebounded with a 10-f0r-28 performance against Norfolk State. The Gators, who average a nation-leading 10 3-pointers per game, have been streaky from long range all season. Marquette's 3-point defense in the NCAA tournament has been pretty good. BYU and Murray State combined to go just 11-for-40 (27.5 percent) from 3-point range. Teams are shooting just 31.8 percent from 3-point range against the Golden Eagles this season.

Stopping Crowder: Marquette forward Jae Crowder was the Big East Player of the Year, and the 6-foot-6 senior has been nearly unstoppable in his last 10 games. Crowder is averaging 21.4 points and 10.7 rebounds and has posted seven double-doubles in that span. He also is averaging 3.1 steals and 2.5 assists and is shooting 51.7 percent from the field in those 10 games. This is a game where not having 6-7 forward Will Yeguete will hurt the Gators, but 6-6 sophomore Casey Prather did a good job against Virginia's Mike Scott. He'll be called upon again to help stop Crowder.

A small advantage: Florida doesn't have a size advantage over many teams, but the Gators are a bit bigger than the Golden Eagles in the frontcourt. Center Patric Young (6-9) and forward Erik Murphy (6-10) have a 2-4 inch height advantage over Crowder and 6-7 forward Jamil Wilson. Will that make a difference, though? Marquette is a solid rebounding team, but the difference could be Bradley Beal. The 6-3 freshman guard is UF's leading rebounder (6.7 per game) and is averaging 8.4 rebounds per game in March.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida lost Will Yeguete to a broken foot in late February, Billy Donovan knew his team was going to have to undergo a makeover.

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Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida forward Will Yeguete broke his foot against Auburn on Feb. 21.
Guards Bradley Beal, Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin would have to spend time at power forward to make up for the loss of the Gators’ best rebounder and post defender. UF wouldn’t be as big inside or rebound as well as when the 6-foot-7 Yeguete was on the floor, but using a four-guard lineup would put more 3-point shooters on the floor and allow the Gators to play more in transition.

But reshaping his team’s identity wasn’t going to be that simple. There was so much else for Donovan to consider:

" How would center Patric Young handle playing without his best friend and roommate?

" How do you defend while using the four-guard lineup, especially against a team that has a powerful front court, like Kentucky with Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones?

" How do you avoid becoming predictable offensively when there are four guards and forward Erik Murphy – who at 6-10 is UF’s best 3-point shooter (43.1 percent) – on the floor?

" And, perhaps most importantly, how do the players respond mentally to the challenge of having to do it all during the final weeks of the regular season and into the post-season?

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Bradley Beal had a problem.

It was there at the beginning of the season, but it wasn’t yet much of an issue for the freshman guard or the Florida basketball team. But as the season wore on, it became evident that Beal’s problem was significant enough that it could potentially impact how deep the Gators would advance in the NCAA tournament.

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Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesGators coach Billy Donovan said he will miss Bradley Beal's team-first attitude and work ethic.
So a week or so before the Southeastern Conference tournament, UF coach Billy Donovan sat down with Beal for a chat he hoped would fix the problem. He was pretty blunt a bout it, too: You’re being too nice, Donovan said. Quit deferring to your older teammates all the time and play the way you’re capable of playing.

“I said, ‘Start stepping up and start to be more aggressive. Start doing things out there that are going to impact the outcome of the game,’ ” Donovan said. “Our team realizes that when he does those things it helps us tremendously, and I just needed to keep pushing him toward that.

“I think Brad, being a freshman, needs a push a lot of times because he never wants to step over bounds or out of bounds and put our team chemistry ever in jeopardy, but sometimes he needs that push to let him know it’s OK.”

Since that speech, the 6-foot-3 Beal has been Florida’s best player -- and it’s coming at the most critical time. In five games in March, Beal is leading the team in scoring (13.4 ppg), rebounding (8.4 rpg), assists (18), steals (seven), and minutes played per game (34.6). Senior point guard Erving Walker also has 18 assists, but he has nine turnovers -- one more than Beal.

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OMAHA, Neb. -- Quick thoughts from Florida's 84-50 victory over Norfolk State at the CenturyLink Center.

Overview: Surprising as it was when it happened Friday, Norfolk State's upset of No. 2 seed Missouri seemed like even more of a shocker Sunday when the Spartans turned in a miserable performance in a 34-point loss to No. 7 seed Florida.

Norfolk State -- which became just the fifth No. 15 seed ever to defeat a No. 2 -- trailed by 28 points at intermission before things got even worse in the second half. Two days after shooting 54 percent against Missouri, the Spartans made just 27 percent of their field goal attempts against a Florida squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year.

Senior forward Kyle O'Quinn responded to his 26-point, 14-rebound effort on Friday with a 4-point, 3-rebound clunker in Sunday's loss. He was just 1-of-9 from the field. Norfolk State was outrebounded 48-31.

Anyone who wondered how Norfolk State could've lost to teams such as Division II Elizabeth City State had those questions answered Sunday. The only team that may have taken Norfolk State's defeat harder than the Spartans themselves was Missouri, which will now have an even tougher time living down Friday's epic choke job.

Overshadowed by Norfolk State's ineptitude was another impressive performance by Florida, which is one win away from its second consecutive Elite Eight appearance. The Gators, who will play Marquette in the next round, got 20 points from Kenny Boynton and 14 points and 9 rebounds from Brad Beal. Even though the win appeared to come easily for Florida, Billy Donovan's squad deserves loads of credit for entering the game with intensity and focus.

Turning point: Trailing 6-4 early in the first half, Florida went on a 25-0 scoring run to squelch any early momentum the Spartans may have had. Beal had seven points during the march while Boynton and Erik Murphy added six apiece. When it was all over, Florida led 29-6 with 9:46 remaining before intermission. The Spartans never threatened again.

Key player: Much like they have all season, the Gators exhibited tremendous balance on Sunday. Along with outstanding efforts from Beal and Boynton, Florida got 15 points from Erving Walker, 12 from Mike Rosario and 10 from Murphy.

Key stat: Norfolk State entered the NCAA tournament shooting just 31 percent from 3-point range. The Spartans made 10 of their 19 attempts in their win over Missouri. But they shot just 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from beyond the arc against Florida.

Miscellaneous: Thousands of Kansas fans rose to their feet and cheered Norfolk State's players loudly as the Spartans exited the court after the final. Jayhawks supporters took great delight in Norfolk State's victory over former Big 12 rival Missouri. ... Just like the previous four No. 15 seeds who upset No. 2 seeds, Norfolk State lost in the next round. No 15-seed has ever advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Up next: Florida improved to 25-10 and advanced to play Marquette in the Sweet 16 this week in the West Region in Phoenix. The Golden Eagles (27-7) defeated BYU and Murray State in their first two NCAA tournament games. Norfolk State -- which was making its first appearance in the Division I NCAA tournament -- ends its season 26-10.

OMAHA -- Quick thoughts from Florida's 71-45 victory over Virginia Friday at the CenturyLink Center.

Overview: Florida advanced to the round of 32 of the NCAA tournament, but the Gators probably didn't throw much of a scare into their future opponent. At least not in the first half.

With the Missouri Tigers watching from the crowd, the Gators missed their first 15 3-point attempts before finding their groove in a 26-point dismantling of Virginia. As lackluster as Billy Donovan's squad was in the first half, Florida caught fire in the second. The Gators shot 69.6 percent after intermission in what turned out to be one of the more lopsided games in the NCAA tournament thus far.

Florida's performance was good enough to get past an injury-riddled, overmatched Cavaliers squad that hadn't defeated a high-quality team since beating Michigan on Nov. 29. But Donovan knows it will take a much better effort to get past No. 2 seed Missouri if the Tigers advance as expected by beating No. 15 Norfolk State.

Casey Prather and Bradley Beal had 14 points each for No. 7 Florida while Patric Young added 13. Virginia senior forward Mike Scott, an All-ACC performer, had 15 points in his final game as a collegian.

Turning point: Virginia opened the game on 10-2 scoring run, but not much went right for Cavaliers after that. Florida went on a 28-12 tear that resulted in a 30-22 halftime lead. It was never close in the second half.

Key player: Beal chipped in 11 rebounds to go along with his 14 points -- an impressive total for a guard.

Key stat: Florida and Virginia combined to miss their first 20 3-point attempts before Gators guard Scottie Wilbekin finally connected from beyond the arc late in the opening half. The teams were a collective 1-for-22 on 3-pointers before intermission.

Miscellaneous: Virginia was making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007. ... Tony Bennett's father, Dick Bennett -- the former Wisconsin head coach -- was in the stands Friday to support his son. ... Florida is now 26-9 in NCAA tournament games under Billy Donovan. ... The Gators advanced to the Elite Eight last season. ... Florida had lost four of its past five games before Friday.

What's next: Florida improves to 24-10 and advances to play either Missouri or Norfolk State on Sunday. Virginia ends its season 22-9.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The first couple of weeks of March haven’t gone well for Florida guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.

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Rich Barnes/Icon SMIThe Gators need their starting backcourt of point guard Erving Walker and shooting guard Kenny Boynton to return to their high-scoring ways.
The Gators’ starting backcourt has had trouble offensively in UF’s three games so far this month.

Boynton averages 16.3 points per game heading into Friday’s NCAA tournament second-round game against Virginia, but he’s only scoring 7.7 points per game in March. He’s shooting just 23.1 percent from the field (6-for-26) and 25.0 percent from 3-point range (4-for-16).

However, Boynton is 7-for-7 from the free-throw line -- which included three huge ones in the closing seconds against Alabama -- and he has eight assists and just one turnover in the three games.

Still, the Gators need the 6-foot-1 junior to return to the offensive form that had him averaging 16.9 points per game and shooting 44.9 percent from 3-point range in nine February games.

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NEW ORLEANS -- A look at Florida's rugged win against Alabama:

Overview: JaMychal Green made quite a difference in Alabama's SEC quarterfinal rematch with Florida, but it wasn't quite enough.

Green, who missed the teams' first meeting because of a suspension, dominated to the tune of 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Gators. Unfortunately for Green, a missed free throw in the dying seconds will probably offset a fantastic performance, in his mind.

The Crimson Tide buried a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer, cutting a five-point UF lead to 26-24. The Gators tried to pull away in the second half, building a lead that got as big as 12. But the Tide surged back behind the efforts of Green, who took 14 of the Tide's 45 shots and connected on seven.

Turning point: Green went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game with 21 seconds left. He was superb for Alabama all day, but he connected on only the first of his two shots, leaving the Tide at a 64-63 disadvantage.

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