TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After three months of crossing the country, working out and interviewing for more than a dozen NBA teams, Malik Beasley’s journey is taking him to Brooklyn, N.Y., site of this week’s NBA draft.
The draft begins Thursday night (7 p.m., ESPN) and Beasley will likely become the first Florida State player selected since Bernard James in 2012.
“The draft process has been amazing,” Beasley said while waiting to board a plane from Detroit to New York. “Just being able to travel to teams, show myself and get a connection with the coaches and GMs.”
Beasley had already planned to be in the Big Apple for the draft festivities, but he got an added bonus earlier this week when the NBA invited him to watch from the league’s green room inside the Barclays Center.
Which means Beasley will be surrounded by the draft’s top prospects – assumed No. 1 pick Ben Simmons is expected to attend, as are college stars Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine, among others – and he’ll walk across the stage and shake hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver once he hears his name called.
“It’s just crazy,” Beasley said. “I was going to go to New York regardless, but the fact that I just got invited to the green room even makes it more spectacular, being able to be in the room in those guys and … be the picture of the draft. I can’t way to go there and just be myself and have fun.”
Analysts are split on exactly where Beasley will go, but most projections have him between the middle of the first round and the early second round. Chris Singleton (18th overall to Washington in 2011) was FSU’s last first-rounder.
The Detroit Pistons, who Beasley last worked out for before heading to New York, pick 18th overall.
“Different teams, they all like who I am as a person and they all believe in what I can do in the future,” Beasley said. “I have a nice big range of where I could go and get picked in the draft.”
That’s thanks in large part to an impressive freshman season at Florida State, in which Beasley finished as the team’s second-leading scorer (15.6 points per game) and rebounder (5.3 per game).
Paired with fellow freshman star Dwayne Bacon, Beasley and the Seminoles posted three victories over teams that went to the NCAA Elite Eight before finishing the season in the second round of the NIT.
Just as impressive as Beasley’s basketball ability, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said, is his personality off the floor.
“We all know he’s a hard worker, great teammate, high character,” Hamilton said. “We’re happy for him. We’re excited. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be successful. And the most impressive thing about Malik, I think, is that his best basketball is ahead of him.”
Beasley, meanwhile, said he keeps in constant contact with his coaches and teammates at FSU, and he’s also promised to visit Tallahassee as often as his schedule allows.
“Florida State is a great school,” Beasley said. “And they helped me be the person that I am.”
Seminoles in the draft under Leonard Hamilton
2004: Tim Pickett – New Orleans; Round 2, Pick 44
2005: Von Wafer – Los Angeles Lakers; Round 2, Pick 39
2006: Alexander Johnson – Indiana; Round 2, Pick 45
2007: Al Thornton – Los Angeles Clippers; Round 1, Pick 14
2009: Toney Douglas – Los Angeles Lakers; Round 1, Pick 29
2010: Solomon Alabi – Dallas; Round 2, Pick 50
2010: Ryan Reid – Indiana; Round 2, Pick 57
2011: Chris Singleton – Washington; Round 1, Pick 18
2012: Bernard James – Cleveland; Round 2, Pick 33