TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Malik Beasley has dreamed of playing professional basketball for years.
But when it came time to take the leap – leave for the NBA draft or return to Florida State for another year – Beasley found the decision more difficult than he expected.
The freshman guard has become a fixture around campus over the last several months, not only in the Donald L. Tucker Center, but also at other athletics events throughout the spring.
He threw out the first pitch at a recent FSU baseball game and is often sending encouragement to other teams from his social media accounts.
Beasley said Wednesday that he still intends to keep up with FSU athletics – including basketball – but it will have to be a long-distance relationship. He declared on Monday for the NBA draft and intends to hire an agent, which will end his collegiate eligibility. Beasley is the first Seminole to turn professional after one season.
A native of Alpharetta, Ga., Beasley averaged 15.6 points per game, just 0.2 points behind fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon for the team lead, and was a three-time ACC Rookie of the Week. Beasley and Bacon, who both committed to FSU on the same day in 2014, each earned a spot on the ACC All-Rookie Team. (Bacon announced that he will declare for the draft but not sign with an agent, leaving open the possibility that he could return to FSU next season.)
Beasley sat down for a 1-on-1 with Seminoles.com to offer insight into his decision, reflect on his time at Florida State and give a peek into his future.
Was it a tough decision at all?
Yeah, it was tough. But as the process started to end, it got easier to decide. But at first it was tough because of just the love I have for Florida State and what I had intentions to do here.
You seemed like you really enjoyed college life. You were a regular at baseball games and engaged other teams on social media. Do you feel like you enjoyed that part of your life more than you expected?
Definitely. I thought I was going to come in and just stay focused (on basketball). I was focused during the season, but I didn’t realize I was going to have so much fun. Like going to baseball games and staying there for extra innings. Just even the little things like being with my teammates and just being on campus. It’s a great feeling.
Who did you lean on when you were making your decision? Who gave you good advice?
My trainers, other NBA pros were telling me what the best decision was – even though they’re in the NBA, of course they’re going to say “NBA.” They always gave me the pros and cons of what can happen. Mostly they told me to work hard. And that’s me. That’s what I can do.
Who were some of those NBA people you talked to?
Dominique Wilkins, Tony Allen, John Wall, Dennis Schroder. A few other NBA pros.
What were some things those guys told you?
Sacrifices. I took three days off, a week off, and they were like, ‘That’s the best thing to do. Because it’s going to be a process.’ Eat, sleep, dream basketball. And video games. They said when you’re home, play video games and get your treatment.
What were your conversations with Coach Hamilton and the basketball staff like?
They were great. They wanted to support me regardless. Of course (they asked) if you want to stay and get better, but they knew they really supported me and I’m thankful for them.
How did you tell your teammates?
I went up to them individually, before I made the decision and left for Atlanta. I told them I was probably going to be leaving and told them individually, just to show them respect. Instead of going home and doing it without even telling them.
Were they supportive?
Yeah, very supportive. Some laughed, like my man Terance (Mann). He laughed like “Wow, you’re really going?’ They call me ‘Weasel’ because I’m always joking around. They were just all happy for me and joking around, like ‘Dang, you were just here.’
Do you plan to keep in touch with your teammates moving forward?
Oh yeah. Definitely. I’m going to be down here for a lot of games, support the young guys like (incoming freshmen) C.J. (Walker), (Jonathan) Isaac and Trent (Forrest). I’ll always support them regardless of what I do. I’m going to support the Seminoles to the death.
That moment where you decide, ‘OK, this is what I’m doing and there’s no going back’ – What does that feel like?
It feels amazing, man. You dream about this stuff and you’re like, ‘Wow, you’re really about to do this. And this is the real world. It’s business now.’ I’m about to eat, sleep and dream basketball, and that’s what I love to do.
Does it feel real now? You’ve been working so long for this goal and now it’s here.
Yeah, it feels real now. I’ve got to treat my body differently. I’m drinking way more water than I used to. I can’t eat fast foods here that I used to. But it’s different.
What is next for you?
Just the process of getting used to the NBA ball and the NBA range. And then work on little things like pick-and-roll, my ball-handling. All my weaknesses, get them out of the way early and make them strengths. And then my strengths, get them stronger.
Where will you be for the next few months?
Mostly Atlanta. Then I’m going to come back down on some weekends and workout with Coach (Stan) Jones and stuff like that