Bradley Beal picks Florida over KU

It is that sweet jump shot and hardly makes the net ripple when he’s got it going that turned Bradley Beal (6-3, 180, St. Louis, MO Chaminade Prep #15 ESPNU Super 60) into one of the hottest prospects in the basketball recruiting class of 2011. It is Billy Donovan’s ability to bring out the best in his players that not only attracted Beal to Florida but made him want to put an end to the recruiting process, which he did Monday morning when he selected the Gators over Kansas.

“Really, it’s the whole coaching staff from Coach Donovan to Coach (Rob) Lanier to Coach (Richard) Pitino and Coach (Larry) Shyatt that makes Florida so attractive,” Beal said. “They have a real passion for winning and I like the way they work hard together. They really wanted me and want me to be a key factor to the team in the future.

“I really like the way Coach Donovan brings out the best in you. I think he really wants you to succeed and I think he really cares about his players.”

Beal, who played AAU basketball in the summer for the St. Louis Eagles and was a member of the US 16-and-under team at the FIBA Championships in Argentina, is the best pure shooter in the recruiting class of 2011. Although he’s an outstanding jump shooter with range to 25 feet, Beal is tremendous in transition. In full court pressure situations, he has tremendous anticipation and the ability to get to the rim and finish after a turnover in the backcourt.

Florida’s 6-0 start, which has been built on defense and a lethal full court press, was part of the appeal for Beal.

“I love the way they’re playing defense and pressing,” Beal said. “I like the way they push the ball up the court, get people good shots and get the whole team involved in the offense. The way they play is a great tempo and it’s really exciting. I feel like I could fit in there.”

Beginning with the summer of 2008, Beal really blew up as a national recruit. Florida became highly interested, especially after Beal attended Billy Donovan’s Elite Camp in early August of 2008. Beal’s original list of schools included Florida, Kansas, Illinois and Ohio State. Duke and North Carolina tried to elbow their way into the process back in the summer when Beal was scoring at a 22-23 per game pace for the St. Louis Eagles.

But the more schools that became interested in Beal, the more he decided it was time to put an end to the recruiting process.

“It’s been getting hectic and a lot of schools have been calling and trying to get me to visit and take a look at them,” Beal said. ‘’There were some schools that were here at the beginning and they’ve stayed with me all the time. If I kept this up I would have had had to turn down schools that have been here since the beginning. It wouldn’t be fair to keep talking to new ones when schools I really like have worked me all this time.”

So, he made the decision to make a decision so he could concentrate on playing basketball without worrying about where he’s going to school.

“I decided to end it because it would only get worse instead of getting better and I had a pretty good idea where I wanted to go,” he said. “Now, I’ll be able to concentrate on playing basketball and I won’t have the distractions for my academics.

Beal, who is an excellent student, plans to major in sports medicine.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.