When Bradley Beal stepped on Florida’s campus this summer, coach Billy Donovan soon realized he was not only getting his highest-rated recruit in the last 10 years, but also one of the most mature freshmen he’s ever had at UF.
As the No. 4 overall prospect in the nation, Beal could have come into the Gators’ locker room with the stereotypical sense of entitlement attributed to some big-named prospects.
He could have made it clear he was gunning for his teammates’ jobs and tried to get under the skin of older, experienced UF guards like Kenny Boynton or Erving Walker.
“When he came in, I didn’t know what to expect,” Boynton said.
But Beal didn’t do any of those things. Instead, the 6-foot-3 guard lauded for his sweet stroke chose to defer.
“He’s got a really good understanding of team chemistry,” Donovan said.
“The one thing I admire is when you have a high-profile guy like that come in, when there’s a level of humility and respect and understanding that there are some guys here before you.”
If anything, Donovan would like to see Beal become more aggressive on the court.
With a crowded back court featuring two returning starters in Boynton and Walker, Beal said he prefers to sit back and absorb everything he can.
“He’s got the little freshman jitters now,” sophomore center Patric Young said. “He’s very mature though, I’ll give him that. He’s a little nervous still, trying to figure out his role and what coach wants him to do.”
During Beal’s senior year at St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade College Prep School, he was anything but shy on the court. He was named to the McDonald’s All-American team after averaging 32.5 points during his final season and was also the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
“Honestly, all of that doesn’t matter anymore,” Beal said. “You know it’s high school and now I’m moving onto college. Coach D told me that before, all that McDonald’s All-American stuff doesn’t matter anymore.”
Since his prep days, Beal said he has bulked up about 20 pounds, which he notices is already allowing him to be more physical on defense — a part of the game in which he believes most people underestimate his ability.
“I’m probably going to be considered one of the biggest guards that we have, so I’m going to have to guard the bigger offensive players,” he said. “Hopefully my body is well-developed to the point to where I can be more physical.”