The Florida State Seminoles men's basketball team reached the second round of the NIT this season, but next year's squad took a hit when star Malik Beasley declared for the 2016 NBA draft Monday.
The team's official Twitter account shared his statement:
Beasley went into more detail on Twitter:
Such a blessing 🙏🏽🍢🏀 thanks for the support ! pic.twitter.com/LSgMlgur9O— MB5™ (@MaLiKK_5) March 22, 2016
The slashing guard was only a freshman this season but played his way onto the NBA radar as an explosive scorer who wasn’t afraid to challenge for rebounds from the wing. He finished second on the Seminoles with 15.6 points per game behind only Dwayne Bacon’s 15.8, and his 5.3 boards per contest were also second on the team behind Bacon’s 5.8.
At his best, the 6'5" guard is a matchup problem with an explosive first step off the dribble and the ability to stretch the defense with his three-point shooting. He shot 38.7 percent from downtown in his freshman campaign and also used his athleticism and length on the defensive side to stay in front of ball-handlers and challenge perimeter shooters.
Bob Ferrante of 247Sports noted Beasley scored in double figures in his first 24 games this season, which was only two contests short of Stephon Marbury’s career-opening ACC record during his freshman year at Georgia Tech.
On the court, this is a blow to what looked like a bright future for the Seminoles, as Beasley and Bacon were both only freshmen. According to Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat, Beasley and Bacon’s combined 31.4 points per game were the second most for a freshman duo in ACC history.
ESPN's Jeff Goodman implied keeping Bacon will be critical if Florida State wants to compete in the ACC in 2016-17:
Florida State’s Malik Beasley declare for the draft — and I’m told he has little intention of just testing the waters. Key is Dwayne Bacon.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 22, 2016
If an NBA team drafts Beasley in June, he would become the 10th selection for the Seminoles since Leonard Hamilton took over as the head coach in 2002. Ferrante noted Bernard James was Florida State’s last draft pick in 2012. However, Al Thornton was a lottery pick in 2007, and Toney Douglas (2009) and Chris Singleton (2011) were both first-round picks.
DraftExpress updated its list of the top 100 prospects Monday, ranking Beasley as the 32nd-best player available. He was also the 18th pick in DraftExpress’ 2017 mock draft, which the website updated Monday but before Beasley chose to enter the 2016 draft instead of waiting until 2017.
While an additional year of college could have helped Beasley's development, Mike Schmitz of The Vertical implied the guard will likely draw the eyes of many teams before June 23: "If Beasley were to test the waters this year, he would absolutely garner quite a bit of interest based on his production and would look good in workouts with his athleticism and shooting stroke."
There is always room in the NBA for shooters, and Beasley also brings impressive athleticism and versatility as a slasher and penetrator. DraftExpress saw him as a first-round prospect in 2017 with that talent, and the evaluation likely won’t change now that he is entering the NBA a season earlier than some expected.