Michael Beasley was in the one in the spotlight Monday, but it was a day Kansas State's basketball program suffered a 1-2 punch that had both Beasley and Bill Walker opting to enter their names into the June 26 2008 National Basketball Association Draft.
Beasley will definitely not return to K-State as he has hired Joel Bell as an agent; Walker will not hire an attorney, so will have the option to return to K-State if not happy with his projected draft placement following individual tryouts with NBA teams. (See related story)
It was promptly 5 p.m. when Beasley entered the Bramlage Coliseum Legends Room accompanied by head Wildcat coach Frank Martin.
"See all the commotion you've caused," the coach kidded the player.
When seated, Beasley said, "I would like to announce that I am entering my name into the 2008 NBA Draft."
Sunday night, the Big 12's Player of the Year, said, "I was leaning toward coming back." But by Monday morning, "I woke up early thinking about food. I went to Bramlage for a workout and then talked to some people one more time. I just wanted a better life for my family. I just thought now was the time to take my game to the next level. It's a time for new challenges." While Beasley said there are a lot of "back-and-forth" moments, it's also fact that his agent was already in Manhattan well ahead of his press conference.
Still, Beasley said, "The decision wasn't final until I walked in this room. Then I knew there was no turning back."
Of his one last talk with Martin, Beasley said, "He told me that it's out there. The world is in your hands, just take it."
Others simply told Beasley to "follow his heart."
The only individuals that told him to stay at K-State, Beasley said with a laugh, "Just a lot of people in Manhattan." He added, "No, no one seriously (told him to stay)."
Martin called Beasley's decision the correct one.
"Like I told him, if I had a son his age that was the best player in college basketball, I would have to tell him he's got to go," Martin said. "It's why we all go to college ... so we can make a living."
Martin added that had he made a recruiting pitch to convince him to stay, "... then the pitch I was making was for selfish reasons. I couldn't do that. If there's an opportunity to be worth $100 million, you have to take it. That window is not always open."
This past season, Beasley played 31.5 minutes per game, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds. He shot 53 percent overall, which included 38 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the line.
In addition, he averaged 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.6 blocked shots and 2.9 turnovers. Beasley admits, the numbers surprised him: "I came into college knowing that I was going to be an OK player, but I didn't think I was going to be this good. I didn't think I was going to progress so quickly."
Beasley will become the first Wildcat drafted since Steve Henson went in the second round to Milwaukee in 1990.
In K-State history, the only first-round selections have been Mitch Richmond (1988), Rolando Blackman (1981), Mike Evans (1978), Chuckie Williams (1976) and Bob Boozer (1959).
As for how he'd like to be remembered by the Wildcat fans, Beasley said, "As Mike Beasley. I don't want to be on a pedestal, but I don't want to be underneath anybody. I just want to be remembered as a stand-up guy, and the goofy kid that could play basketball."
Without the fanfare of Beasley, Walker privately entered his name in the draft on Monday, but without an agent.
This will give Walker a chance to take part in the invitation-only NBA tryouts in Orlando, Fla., the first week in May, and then have up until 10 days before the draft to decide whether to return to K-State or turn pro.
Walker averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks this year. DraftExpress.com projects the 6-6 Walker as the No. 8 selection of the second round, while he's not listed among the top 60 players by NBADraft.net.