Florida State basketball seems to have lost a key cog in their rebuilding under current head coach Leonard Hamilton as their freshman star and second leading scorer Malik Beasley has officially declared for the 2016 NBA Draft on May 17th.
Beasley made his intentions known on social media Monday night, as word got out that he would be leaving the Seminoles after just one year on the team.
Such a blessing ???? thanks for the support ! pic.twitter.com/LSgMlgur9O— Malik Beasley MB25™ (@Mbeasy5) March 22, 2016
Beasley notched 15.6 points per game (16th overall in the ACC) and 5.3 rebounds per game (third best of all guards in the ACC) in addition to 0.9 steals per game and shooting nearly 39% from three during the season. Those stats as a nineteen-year-old freshman were impressive enough to warrant his entrance into this year’s draft despite FSU’s disappointing finish this season.
CBSSports’ NBA draft board has Beasley as high as a late first round pick, which could see the prolific scorer land on a championship-caliber NBA team. Beasley’s talent kept a Florida State squad with virtually no depth but a wealth of young talent in the hunt for a tournament spot until an early bow out in the ACC tournament. The Seminoles finished their season losing to #1 seed Valparaiso in the second round of the NIT basketball tournament after beating the Davidson Wildcats.
There’s been some speculation about whether Beasley’s freshman teammate and FSU’s leading scorer Dwayne Bacon will also declare for the draft, which is now less than two months away. Players have until April 29th to declare for this year’s NBA draft in writing, and underclassman have the option of withdrawing their name (and retaining their NCAA eligibility) by April 10th. Bacon is projected to be a late second round pick according to the same CBSSports NBA draft board.
Why the big difference in projected draft spot and the hesitation to declare for the NBA despite Bacon actually out-scoring (15.8 ppg) and out-rebounding (5.8 rpg) Beasley in the regular season for Florida State? Bacon also has an inch of height and 20 pounds on his freshman teammate, so what gives?
Bacon is a significantly worse shooter than Beasley, shooting just 28% from three, even though he attempted about as many as Beasley did during the season. Beasley out-performed Bacon from the floor (47% vs 44% shooting) and from the free throw line (81% vs 71% from the charity stripe – low for a guard). Beasley demonstrated slightly better ball-handling abilities as well, notching nearly the same number of assists per game but about half a turnover less per game than Bacon.
If Beasley sticks with his decision to declare for the NBA draft past April 10th’s soft deadline, it seems likely Bacon will declare his eligibility as well, despite having worse draft prospects. Bacon and Beasley are actually good friends, who visited campus together and decided to both sign with Florida State to play with each other this season. With one gone, it is hard to imagine the other will not follow.
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All statistics courtesy ESPN, CBSSports, the ACC, and the NCAA. Featured image credit: Mark Wallheiser/AP.