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Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at 12:50 pm  |  35 responses

Michael Beasley: Talk is Cheap

Down goes Kansas… up goes an old PUNKS feature on Michael Beasley

Words: AGGREY SAM
Portrait: MIKE DELFIN

I’m not a cocky person at all,” Michael Beasley says, “but I think I’m the number one player in the country.” Anyone who’s seen Beasley play knows the first part of that statement is a damn lie. But the second part, with apologies to a lot of other kids in this issue,
is arguably as real as it gets.

Size? Beasley goes a solid, 6-9, 230. Athleticism?

Fans and foes alike focus on his filthy aerial displays in pregame layup lines, let alone actual games. Jumper? From midrange out to the three-point line, he’s money. Handle? The big fella has shakes and spin moves for days and can pass like a point guard. Defense? When he’s motivated, he can stay in front of a quick guard or hold down the paint with his shot blocking. Inside game? He’s got some of the best post moves in the prep ranks and is ferocious on the boards.

So, while Beasley knows he might not handle like OJ Mayo, get buckets like Eric Gordon, dime like Derrick Rose or board like Kevin Love all the time, when he chooses to focus on any one of those aspects of his game, he’s up there with anyone—with a swagger
unsurpassed by any of them. “Those players are great players, but my attitude is, I’m the best player in the galaxy,” Beasley says. “That’s how I’m gonna carry it every time I come on the floor.”

The talkative and talented lefty has been a household name in the grassroots hoops community since he was in middle school. But even with his insane package of skills, detractors have had plenty of time to nit-pick over the years. One issue they’ve had with Beasley is the myriad schools he’s attended since eighth grade, including IMG Academy in Florida, Riverdale (MD) Baptist and Oak Hill (VA) Academy, who he helped lead to a 40-1 record and the No. 2 national ranking last season on the strength of his 20.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 4.5 bpg.

“I’ve just been trying to find a
home,” Beasley explains. “Every school I’ve been to, they’ve been great, but it’s just the little things.”

Curtis Malone, Beasley’s mentor, vouches for his protégé. “A lot of times, these kids are put in situations where some things just might not fit,” says Malone, founder of AAU powerhouse DC Assault. “We’re trying to make sure he’s being pushed, as a basketball player and as a student-athlete.”

The basketball part of that equation is foremost in Beasley’s mind, and seemingly the biggest reason for his Amare-like prep career.

“Other coaches still look at me like a high-school player—they want me to play center,” Beasley says. “I’m not gonna be a center in the NBA, I’m gonna be a three, so it’s like we have two different mindsets. I wanna do drills and work out the same way NBA players do.”

At his new home—Notre Dame (MA) Prep—that shouldn’t be a problem. The rural college prep school has become a factory for elite prospects, and with bigs like 6-10 Syracuse signee Sean Williams currently on the roster, Beasley should get plenty of work. “Obviously, he’s a very talented kid,” says ND Prep coach Bill Barton. “It’s hard for a lot of people to guard him. He’s really a player without a position.”

Even though Beasley routinely dominates top comp (see: the
2006 FIBA Americas U18 Tournament, adidas Superstar camp and Elite 24 game), his swagger suggests to some that he doesn’t always give 100 percent. “When people say I don’t go hard, I just laugh,” he says. “I’m laid back. That’s just the way I play.”

Nolan Smith, Mike’s longtime teammate with DC Assault and his former teammate at Riverdale
Baptist and Oak Hill, concurs. “People say he’s lazy and he doesn’t play hard all the time, but he’s a kid,” says the Duke-bound Smith. “Everybody’s gonna find something to say about your game.”

Skepticism wasn’t all that hard to find when
Beasley announced his college choice, either.

Last spring, he verbally committed to becoming Bob Huggins’ first big-time catch at Kansas State, a move that sent shockwaves through the recruiting world. On one level, the decision made perfect sense. Beasley had previously pledged to attend Charlotte, where Dalonte Hill was then an assistant coach. Hill, who also came up through the DC Assault program, was hired by new K-State coach Bob Huggins. Not long after, Beasley followed suit. “That commitment comes from Mike and Dalonte being so close,” says Malone. “Nothing can separate those two.”

Recruiting watchers saw a dark side to that conjoined setup, noting the somewhat sleazy appearance of a package deal and pretty much accusing Huggins of outright theft. Still, it’s hard to blame Beasley for either following his mentor or for linking up with Huggins, a proven coach known for his intense style and getting the most out of his players—a combination that seems a natural fit for the ultra-smooth and sometimes lackadaisical Beasley.

“Huggins is one of those guys that’s gonna make him work hard,” says Malone. “If you know anything about Huggins’ players, they all play hard as hell.”

While Manhattan, Kansas, might seem like a dubious location for a top prospect from the DC area, Beasley says that after his official campus
visit in late summer, he was surer than ever. “It’s nothing like DC—there’s a lot of farms and stuff— but it’s more of a city than people think,” reports
Beasley. “People showed me mad love out there.” Beasley seems truly excited about the chance to play for Hugs, who coached DC Assault alums and current pros James White and DerMarr Johnson while at Cincinnati. “Everybody’s dream is to make it to the NBA as quickly as possible,” he emphasizes,
“but I had my heart set on college since I was younger.”

The obvious follow-up is, how long will he stay? “Without a doubt, he’ll be a top college player,” says ND Prep’s Barton. “How long he’s in college for, I don’t know. I think how good he’ll be is dependent on how hard he’s willing to work.”

Malone, who’s had several NBA players come through his AAU program, says Beasley reminds him of a “young Derrick Coleman,” another southpaw. “If he works hard and stays focused, one day he can become an NBA All-Star,” says Malone.

And exactly because of his immense talent, Beasley knows that whether he’s in DC, New England or the Great Plains, he’ll always
face questions about the level of his intensity.

“I don’t pay any attention to it,” he says. “Right now, I’m not a pro. I’m a high-school player, a high-school student. Some people like me, some people hate me, but I’m just gonna be Mike Beasley.”

At this level, that’s more than enough.

This feature appeared in Punks Magazine #2

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Let’s just hope he stays as a “young” version of DC…..
    And then there was ONE! CDR killed the Cougs last night.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    #1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1#1

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    If he really, truly is a legit 3 at the next level, then he should go #1.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    How does Heat Red and Black sound?

  • http://Odenized.com Ryne Nelson

    Nah. Not even Beasley will entice Wade to stick around in that muck.

  • http://Odenized.com Ryne Nelson

    And not to hate on Beezy, but I’d much rather build around Rose.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Beasley will be number one, no doubt. That was a very exciting game last night. Not sure why ESPN put Texas-Texas A+M on instead of it nationally, but thankfully it was picked up by smaller stations cause it was definitely the college game of the night. Not to go lefty crazy, but he also has some Zach Randolph and Rodney Rogers in him, but with much better ballhandling than those guys.

  • http://www.INEED.ORG Tarzan Cooper

    the purple pu$$ies were hittin 3s out the wazoo. too bad shady arthur was in foul trouble the whole game. funny how the fans and players celebrated like they won the national championship. i guess it sucks to lose at home for 26 years.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Ryne, a nucleus of Wade, Haslem, Beasley and a good point guard in the offseason will keep him happy.

  • http://Odenized.com Ryne Nelson

    Eboy, I like Udonis, but he’s not a nucleus player. His game fits with most systems, and he’ll probably be dealt over the summer…if the Heat want to get some enticement for Wade to stay.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Shady Arthur is a sweet player, too.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    A cut & paste from my coverage of the inaugural Boost Mobile HS All-Star Game at Rucker in Sept. 06:
    “Mike Beasley is no joke. At all. As Ben Osborne reminds me during the game, dude is essentially ambidextrous, and SO smooth with that left hand. Ben and I spent a decent amount of time trying to figure out an accurate comparison, and I got a text message from Ben later in the weekend that read: “Beasley = way better Rodney Rogers.” It may sound like faint press, but it’s kinda on-point, and if you really think about it, a “way better Rodney Rogers” is a pretty good NBA player, and probably a superstar in college. Don’t say you weren’t warned.”

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Ryan, just for nostaliga’s sake, my son got into my SLAM stash last night and brought an issue too me while I playing Wii Sports. The issue? Your last, as EIC, I laughed my ass off at your Ed. responses.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Nice. I’ll have to look that up — I have no memory of it. It was a hazy time.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Carmelo on the cover, and you answered three different questions about Bargani and you asked if the letter writers were related to him.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Really? Wow, I really don’t have any memory of that. You sure that wasn’t Ben’s first issue?

  • Captain America

    Don’t get into comparisons. Beasley has a unique tool set. I was thinking 3 too. Nasty!

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Get your mind out of the clouds, Jones. It had your last foreword written by you and you thanking SLAM, the staff and the couple hundred thousand readers that made it fun for you to handle the duties. You talked about your move, etc. Damn, buddy, you’re dense like that? Actually, you are, so I’ll let it go.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Nah, I think what it is… I didn’t actually mean any of that sh*t, so it didn’t really stick in my memory. F*ck all you people. Get a life.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    That seems more appropriate. I actually respond well to degrading, so it’s cool

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I thought you’d like that.

  • http://www.INEED.ORG Tarzan Cooper

    i totally forgot about rodney rogers. it was funny watching him on the nets, all i remember is him launching 3s.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Imagine him without the man t*ts and a handle, Tarzan.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “with” a handle, obviously.

  • tike

    tarzan is a apparent fan of the jayhawks….but Beasley is a STUD theres no doubt dude could go #1 next season

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Rodney Rogers hit 3- 3s in 9 seconds in the waning ticks to make an 8-point jazz lead, a 1-point Nugget lead.
    Subsequently, Jeff Malone went down and rained a buzzer-beating 19-footer on the baseline.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Cub, I totally remember that Rodney 3 explosion. Dude was also kinda athletic in the Nugget days. For sake of Beasley, please remove any image of Rogers as a Net. And Ryan, great call on the Elite 24 text messages. I vividly remember that game, largely because it was more than enough to tell me that Beasely was the best player in the HS class of 07, but I forget that I was making the Rogers comparisons back then. And my first issue was LeBron as the logo!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    For whatever reason, I remember your first issue better than I remember my last one. Maybe because I actually wrote a critique of it on the site…

  • chronically_ill

    Hmmm…a much better Rodney Rogers…That’s not a bad comparison. He kind of reminds me of Shareef-Abdur Raheem, although I dont remember if Reef was a lefty or not. Hopefully Beasley will reach the playoffs a lot faster than Reef did!

  • hansosword

    Howdy ho…OJ Mayo is 6’3″ with mediocre speed and no vert. He can’t finish at the rim and hates contact… Eric Gordon is dope, but how many 6’4 shooting guards do you see in the L nowadays…If Kevin Love were really 6’10/270lbs he would be a beast, sadly 6’8 PF’s just don’t cut the mustard in the big time anymore…Beasly is a lock for #1 in this years overhyped freshman class. The only player I have seen this year who might challenge him, is the kid from Stanford ( one of the twins). I have only seen him play once but had something Duncanesce about him…

  • http://www.lehigh.edu/~amsp/2007/06/coolies-how-britain-re-invented-slavery.html hursty

    hanso talks a lot, however time will tell.

  • hansosword

    Hursty…I wasn’t trying to be a d**k, I just don’t think that these kids can live up to their billing at the next level. I’ve seen USC play five times this year, and OJ Mayo is not 6’5. At that height his handle and speed would be extraordinary, but at 6’3 it’s a step slow. Think of a young Steve Francis or Baron Davis, two guys comparable in build, and the difference in explosiveness and athleticism is glaringly apparent. Oj can’t run the point even in college, so can you really see him dominating the 2 in today’s nba, competing against guys 4-5 inches taller? He does have a deadly outside game, but one dimensional talents rarely translate into superstardom in the nba. I have basically the same argument for Kevin Love. He plays the 5 at UCLA and he would be undersized at the 4 spot in the L. Seriously, Kevin is not that much bigger than Lebron. If Eric Gordon stays at Indiana a couple years and learns the point position, he will be a handful at the next level. Otherwise he will be the next Ben Gordon. So my money is still on Beasly,Brook Lopez and Derrick Rose ( forgot about him!!) to represent the class of 07.
    p.s I loved all these kids in high-school, so I hope that they prove me wrong….

  • Cowbell

    Ryne Nelson says:
    “And not to hate on Beezy, but I’d much rather build around Rose.”

    Your not too bright huh??!! Beasley owns the paint both offensively and defensively…. That is where you Build a franchise…gotta have a solid foundation. Rose is OVER-RATED as hell…

  • http://www.myspace.com babygirl-boo

    damn michael beasley is beastley n b-ball & in look
    he is so sexy … def. good draft…

  • annah

    whoever thinks micheal beasley is gay your stupid i bet if yall played him you guys would get your butt kicked yall fake!!!!!!!

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