The state of Georgia has produced elite talent for decades, and an interesting dichotomy has emerged. Players there tend to receive an overwhelming push to stardom — such as Dwight Howard and Louis Williams from the last decade — while other very talented prospects seemingly fly under the radar before blowing up in college.
Texas is another state that shares that dynamic, likely due to the states' emphasis on football as well as the fact that, outside of the biggest cities, there are many more rural areas that lack substantial media centers.
Malik Beasley, while certainly not comparing to forebears such as Howard or Williams, slots more appropriately in category 2. He emerged as a national presence during the fall of his junior season, drawing an offer from Virginia Tech (prior coaching staff) and generating interest from Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia and Georgia Tech. But his recruitment wasn't red hot even by regional standards.
Beasley's spring kicked off at the Elite Preview, and then he hit the road with the Georgia Stars on the EYBL circuit. My first extended look at him occurred at June's Pangos All-American Camp, where he was one of the top performers in attendance.
He was a little more quiet at the NBPA Top 100 Camp but performed in outstanding fashion at the Elite Youth Invitational in mid-July.
Beasley's physique strikes an imposing first impression. He stands 6-4, 185 pounds and utilizes his size to great advantage. Being strong is one thing, of course, but Beasley's explosive athleticism enables him to combine a quickness advantage along with a frequent edge in physicality. Thus, he's an outstanding slasher going to his right.
Beasley excels attacking along the baseline and is a top-shelf finisher in transition. He tends to play at one speed, rather than changing pace, but for a power wing that doesn't pose a huge problem.
|Talent and style should propel Beasley at FSU|
Meanwhile, his shot looked excellent in July. I'm not going to ignore his overall percentages (more on that below), but during my late summer viewings he buried threes and step-in jumpers from 17 feet that had backspin. At the minimum, then, let's grant that he possesses the form and touch to raise his perimeter accuracy substantially in college.
And by no means did he play badly with the Stars. To put it mildly, his squad struggled immensely on the EYBL circuit. The Stars finished, gulp, 1-15 through the 16 round robin games. A team struggling to that extent tends to artificially harm the efficiencies of its best players, due to their attempting to desperately keep their club competitive.
But Beasley's final four games, at the Minneapolis event, were stellar. He scored 27 points in the Stars' first game there, followed by 24 points, 33 points and 41 points. He did so while shooting over 50 percent in three of those four games, and he buried 11-26 on threes (42 percent) combined at the event. That's the Beasley I believe he can become an ACC impact player.
He'll also obviously have to play defense in order to get major playing time at FSU, and as such Beasley appears to be a natural for Hamilton's physical style. Players such as Michael Snaer have excelled for the Noles on that end of the court, and Beasley's body type and athleticism are highly reminiscent of Snaer. Beasley pulled down five rebounds per game as well for the Stars, an indicator of his athleticism and toughness.
Whatever I say or think about Beasley's offensive potential, it must be noted he shot only 32 percent on threes during EYBL play. And that percentage was significantly worse prior to Minneapolis. What kind of shooter is he, really?
Otherwise, he needs to improve his left handed dribbling. Big league opponents will be able to shade him to his right unless he becomes more polished with his off hand. As mentioned, he's more of a straight-line guy rather than a slick driver who changes directions and turns on his hips, so getting maximum burst with his initial move and mixing up right and left will be critical.
Beasley should develop into a fantastic player for Florida State. Even if he doesn't blossom into a shooter until later in his career, his transition scoring, halfcourt slashing and tough defense should enable him to earn a starting spot as an underclassman.
He could blow up similar to the way Snaer did if he's the shooter he hinted he may be in Minneapolis and at the EYI. Time will tell, but the four star prospect has the makings of a potentially underrated recruit in the senior class who also possesses an encouraging long-term future.