Bradley Beal says decision to leave Florida for NBA "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life''
Saying it was probably the most difficult decision of his life, Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal announced this morning that he plans to leave the Gators and enter the NBA Draft.
On Monday, after several weeks of contemplation that included long, thoughtful conversations with Donovan, Beal informed his coach he had made a decision.
“It was the right time for me,’’ Beal said during a press conference Friday morning. “Coach just told me, whatever I decide, whenever I decide, just make sure you’re at peace with it. And that was basically what I was trying to do. I had about two weeks to decide. I had the April 10 deadline, but I was more than sure I was going to go past that. When it came down to it, I just wanted to make sure I was comfortable telling coach and comfortable with my decision. And I wanted to make sure I was 100 percent. There’s no looking back now.''
Donovan said based on his conversations with NBA executives, coaches and scouts, Beal is a definite Top 10 pick, and could move up to as high ass top five before the June draft.
"Selifishly I’m going to miss not having a chance to coach him,'' Donovan said. "No question based on the information I was able to gather, no question he’s going to be in the Top 10 in the lottery. And no question he’s going to have a chance to move up. A lot of people are not privy to the information I am. There is a definite possibility he will be a Top 5 pick.''
Beal averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds in his only season with the Gators. He went through a tough transition period in January, then emerged in February and March as arguably one of the best freshmen in the nation.
He became the first Florida player to be named to the SEC All-SEC and All-Freshman team in the same season.
"It was well-thought out by him,'' Donovan said of Beal's decision. "I don’t think he was influenced by anybody. He had great support. And people really gave him space to make his decision.''
Beal said it was tough telling his teammates, but he has received great support from them. He reiterated several times that the decision wasn't easy.
"Just the feeling, the emotions that I had, it was worse than losing the game against Louisville (in the NCAA Regional Finals),'' Beal said. "The whole emotional thing I went through, this place is great. I loved this year, I had a great year here, my teammates were great, coaches were great. Everything about this place is beautiful. I’m really sad that I have to give it up, but I believe there are bigger things that I have to accomplish.''
Beal is the first one-and-done player for the Gators since Donnell Harvey left after the 2000 season.