- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2012

The Washington Wizards introduced their first-round pick Bradley Beal in a news conference Friday. Alongside Beal were team president Ernie Grunfeld, coach Randy Wittman, his parents, and, yes, even a birthday cake.

Beal was given the gift of a lifetime on Thursday night, being selected as the third overall pick in the NBA draft on his 19th birthday. He couldn’t be happier to be in the nation’s capital.

“As soon as I got here, I felt like it was right,” Beal said. “I didn’t have that feeling going into the other cities [I worked out in].

“Once [Michael Kidd-] Gilchrist went at second, I was like, ‘OK, this is a big relief,’ and I didn’t have to worry about anything else.”

Beal’s parents sat off to his left in the front row, his father wearing the bright red Wizards draft day hat, his mother in an equally bright red shirt, smiles across their faces the whole time. Beal attributed his success to his parents, in particular his mother.

“She’s the main one who taught me how to shoot,” Beal said, explaining how he mastered his footwork. “People really frown their face when I say that, like, ‘Seriously?”.

With all the skills Beal has picked up through high school and from his lone year at Florida, he must now transition to the professional game. New teammate John Wall and Beal share many similarities, so the transition may be a little easier than expected. Both played in the Southeastern Conference, left their schools after only one year, were drafted as lottery picks, play the guard position, and have now met up in Washington.

“Hopefully I can help out the backcourt with John [Wall]”, Beal said. “I’m really looking forward to it.

“John plays fast and can control the team. I think that I can help him out a lot with spacing out the floor, getting penetration for him. … Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute the best I can.”

Wittman and Grunfeld had been targeting Beal all along. After last Wednesday’s trade that sent forward Rashard Lewis to New Orleans in exchange for forwards Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, Beal’s spot on the team was all but guaranteed. The only thing standing in the way was the Charlotte Bobcats with the No. 2 selection.

“We were a little scared he wouldn’t be there,” said Wittman. “He’s the guy we wanted all along.”

Now that Beal is finally in Washington, the newest Wizard is getting used to life in the big city.

“Well, it’s the nation’s capital,” said a smiling Beal when asked what he knows about D.C. “I don’t really know too much about it. I just know it’s a great city.”

The next step for Beal is to suit it up for the summer league in Las Vegas later this summer.

“It’s been a while since I actually played five-on-five,” said Beal. “I’m really looking forward to getting back to that, getting adjusted to the new style of basketball, longer quarters, the whole style of play.”

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