Two-time National Champion head coach of the University of Florida and former on-the-court instructor to Bradley Beal – Billy Donovan spent some time with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier Tuesday. Donovan went into depth as to why he’s the perfect fit for the Wizards and John Wall, and what tools he possesses that will inevitably make him a prolific scorer in the NBA.
Oddly enough, the interview did not tip off with questions about the NBA Draft or Bradley Beal, but rather with inquiries about Billy Donovan’s son…Billy Donovan. Holden, who has moonlighted as play-by-play announcer for the school Coach Donovan’s son plays – Catholic University – asked for an update on the father’s young athlete.
Coach Donovan, who’s Gators defeated his son’s Catholic Cardinals 114-57 at home in 2011, says he has recruited his son away from D.C. to come play for him this year. Holden and Danny joked with the elder Donovan about what a father-to-son recruiting pitch must have been like, at which point the coach clapped back with a quick wit.
“Well you know what? It was actually pretty easy because right now I’ve got him worked in to take Brad Beal’s place.” The coach went on to say he’s looking forward to coaching one of his children, a challenge he’s never dabbled in previously.
The conversation quickly shifted to Wizards’ 1st-round pick and #3 overall selection Bradley Beal, who spent one-season under the tutelage of Donovan before declaring for the NBA Draft.
“I spent probably more time recruiting Bradley than he did playing here, because I started recruiting him when he was a sophomore.”
Billy Donovan spoke highly of his Freshman standout as a person as well as his intelligence for the game of basketball.
“The first thing that you’re going to find out about him is that he’s an unbelievable kid. I mean he is a very high-character, well-beyond-his years, just basically turning 19 years old. He is a winner. He’s a competitor. He understands team chemistry. He understands what goes into winning. He’s a professional.”
Donovan went on to corroborate that character by adding that Beal attended every class as a Pre-Med major while maintaining around a 3.5 GPA, all the while the coach never “had one ounce of trouble with Brad”.
Coach Donovan, who coached against Wizards star John Wall in the 2009-2010 SEC season, suggested that playing with Wall will be helpful for Beal’s development as a shooter.
“Brad Beal is going to end up being an NBA scorer. He’s a prototypical NBA 2-guard. The best thing with him is I think Brad wants to be great.”
Although he doesn’t lack any confidence in Beal’s potential, Donovan admits he believes the long-range shooting guard who hovered around a lowly 34% from the 3-point line will struggle adjusting his range to the NBA.
“I think Brad will have an adjustment period with the NBA 3-point line. It’s no different in college. Most guys don’t shoot to their capabilities as Freshman and probably most guys don’t shoot to their capabilities as rookies.”
To build on the things he needs to work on during his rookie campaign, Coach Donovan touched on Beal’s confidence, citing his youth as a small deficiency at first, something that prevented him from fitting in right away at Florida.
Not to worry though, as Donovan supplemented his comments by remembering back to when he was recruiting Beal. He spoke of watching Bradley as a 17-year-old, competing alongside other 2012 1st-round picks on the Under-17 national team in Germany – a tournament Donovan made sure to mention which selected Beal as its MVP.
Changing things up, the guys asked Donovan what he felt about the growing movement to revert the Olympic teams to a qualifying age of under 23 years of age, to which he gave a very unexpected answer.
“I think one of the things they’re trying to do right now, from at least what I’m hearing, is they’re trying to create a World Cup of basketball, almost as soccer has done with the World Cup. So I think what they’re talking about doing is a FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Cup where you’ll have no age limit on it. And now what they’re talking about is moving the Olympics to 23 and under.”