Anthony Davis is awesome. Quincy Miller’s a natural scorer. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist never stops. Cody Zeller is making Indiana respectable again.
But Bradley Beal may just be this season’s best freshman.
The Florida guard turned in his second double-double of the season during Tuesday’s win against Stetson, tying career bests in points (22) and rebounds (10) – at just 6-foot-3. He’s consistent (double figures in all six games), can shoot (a 58.8 eFG%) and does it while playing a significant role in the offense. Kenny Boynton is Florida’s primary option, but not by much.
To step into the Gators’ offense, produce efficiently and put up big numbers, well, that’s no small thing. He’s part of a guard-heavy team that could be a mess of mixed parts and rotten chemistry. Instead, Beal’s helping make it work by often playing out of position and producing.
Maybe that’s why Florida’s 5-1, with the lone loss coming at No. 2 Ohio State. It certainly hasn’t been lost on his coach.
“There is a level of humility and respect,” coach Billy Donovan told the Tampa Tribune. “Brad is not the kind of guy that comes in here and says, ‘I’m taking your job. I’m starting.’ He understands the importance of chemistry and being unselfish.”
Hitting 3-pointers like crazy helps, too.
The Gators have hit at least 10 from beyond the arc in every game and are making 43 percent on the season. That’ll be their formula throughout the season (and should make for an interesting matchup against Syracuse on Friday). They’ll need to do it against much tougher competition – not the likes of Stetson, Jacksonville r Jackson State – as will Beal.
But the early returns seem awfully promising. Maybe it’s time Evan Silva branched out beyond NFL analysis.
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