On the flight en route to his first-ever visit to Washington, D.C., Bradley Beal found himself sitting next to none other than the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
The conversation that ensued didn’t last for long and was fairly one-sided.
“He talked a lot, but I put my headphones on,” Beal said. “He ended up falling asleep so it was cool… He’s a great guy, well respected. He just likes to talk.”
Beal said Jackson didn’t know who he was, but he didn’t introduce himself.
“I’m not that type,” Beal said, even though the Florida freshman shooting guard be hard to miss when the NBA Draft takes place on June 28, a night on which he’ll also celebrate his 19th birthday.
Why? Age belies the game that after one season with the Gators that earned Beal, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, first-team all-SEC and all-freshman nods and turned him into a virtual lock to be drafted with the second, third or fourth pick. As such, he’s scheduled to work out with only the three teams who own those selections. He spent Thursday morning with the Wizards at Verizon Center – working out alongside Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson and Quincy Roberts (Grambling State) – before a visit on Saturday to Cleveland, which picks fourth, and Monday in Charlotte, which owns the second pick.
“Basically I can create off the dribble,” Beal said when asked what he wanted to show the Wizards brass in attendance. “Basically we did a lot of drills where we had to dribble the ball, pull up and shoot, shoot a lot of pull-up jumpers. I did a pretty good job of that, and that’s what I wanted to showcase the most.”
In Washington, Beal would be seen as the much-needed long-term solution in the backcourt alongside John Wall. He possesses a silky midrange jump shot and an innate ability to rebound, and at 6-foot-4 and a solid 200 pounds, he’s been compared to Eric Gordon, Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade. But he doesn’t presume he’d be the starter right away for the Wizards, who’d have to manage expectations for Jordan Crawford.
“I wouldn’t guarantee it mine, no, because I’m the type of guy that wants to earn everything,” Beal said. “I want to earn every bit of it. I don’t want anything given to me so I’m just going to come in and work hard if they choose me.”
Beal said he struggled at Florida until the postseason, when he stopped worrying about his shot and tried to impact the game in other ways. He demonstrated shooting skills and patience as he worked through Wizard coach Randy Wittman’s last two shooting drills. Beal started 5-for-9 and finished 9-for-11 in an exercise taking midrange jumpers at both ends of the court. In the “7” drill finale, which requires players to start needing to make seven consecutive shots with that number increasing on every miss, he responded to three misses in a row by closing out with six straight.
“I knew at some point the count was going to go up,” said Beal. “It’s too easy for you to just keep going.”
Thompson revealed that he’s been nursing a groin injury suffered during the season with the Hoyas but appeared relaxed after having tested the waters last season.
“When you first step on the court, it’s a lot of people looking at you that aren’t fans so it’s kind of weird,” Thompson said. “But I did that last year so I’m a little bit used to it.”
The streaky perimeter sharpshooter fared worse than Beal in the midrange drill but had no problem starting the “7” drill after Beal and finishing before him.