“To be on the National team is a dream come true.” The St. Louis native Bradley Beal is ready to showcase his skills on the global map as Team USA embarks on a journey towards a gold medal.
Coach Gregg Popovich couldn’t stop saying glowing things about Bradley Beal. Who can blame him? Beal averaged a career high 31.3 points this season for the Washington Wizards. He shot a career-high 48.5 percent from the field and was named to the All-NBA third team. Each season Beal has been in the league, he’s progressively gotten better and better. Now, he’s at the top of his game. And he’s hungry for a gold medal.
He understands the stakes. Legends have donned those same Team USA jerseys in previous years. Anything other than a gold medal would be a travesty. The expectations are high but Beal is grateful for the opportunity because these chances are prestigious.
“You don’t take it for granted. You understand the history behind it. You understand the importance and like I keep saying, everybody wants to beat us. So it’s always imperative that we have that mindset and understanding it starts here (in practice), and we carry it over to the game. So I’m definitely excited about it. We have a really good team. A lot of guys we can learn from and push each other to be better.”
When Popovich was asked about Beal in Wednesday’s post-practice press conference, he spoke very highly of the Wizards star.
“His movement. He is hard to keep up with,” said Popovich. “Whether he’s coming off a back pick, or whether he’s running the pick and roll or he’s coming off a single, double (pick) situation. His balance and his movement are very impressive. He stops on a dime, he can pull up and shoot the shot. He can shoot the three. He can back cut and leave you in the dust.
“His movement really informs his shooting if you think about the space he creates. Because of his ‘stop, start, stop, start.’ The ability to go up, catch, and knock down the shot. That shooting ability along with his excellent footwork I think is the most impressive thing about him.”
USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo said Beal is ‘a classic example of a guy who has really upgraded his game.’
“He’s gotten better and better each year,” said Colangelo. “That’s my two cents worth on him. I think he’s a big time scorer, another guy capable of big numbers. He competes. I think he’s a great guy. I think he’ll fit like a glove on this team and gives us that additional firepower.”
And firepower he will bring.
He won a gold medal with the U17 team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and averaged a team-high 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game while making 31 of 65 3-point shots (47.7 percent). He’s never been afforded the opportunity to compete for the official team at a major tournament until now. Now he’s ready to show what he and Team USA can do.
“Sky’s the limit for us,” said Beal. “We got to control our own destiny. Like I keep saying, it won’t be easy. We got to continue to put in the work. Continue to trust (Coach) Pop. And execute.”