Move over Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. There’s a new member of the Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year club, and his name is Brad Beal. Beal, the all-everything senior guard for was surprised with the added honor Monday, when another member of the fraternity crashed his Global Issues class. Alonzo Mourning, the 1988 winner, came in with the ruse of presenting a classroom topic. Instead, the former Georgetown and NBA great who met Bea, was there to deliver the 17 year-old with hardwood honors.
By 1 p.m., the surprise, kept under a media embargo since late last week, was out in the open, with a school-wide assembly that almost felt like a political coronation. “This is what’s best about sports and people. This is someone we can believe in,” said Chad Konecky of ESPN Rise, which took charge of the selection process.
The soft-spoken Beal, who has let his game on the court do the talking, almost looked sheepish about all the attention heading his way during the event. In the end the kid wearing the Florida Gators sweatshirt was humbled by the Gatorade award, which recognizes excellence on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
“I’m going to cherish this moment for the rest of my life,” Beal told the crowd. “It feels great to be named with great other players that have received this award.”
Mourning, who had his own basketball career end prematurely because of a kidney ailment, noted during the event that the game is temporary, and that he looked forward to seeing what Beal does with the rest of his career. After the ceremony and a game of H-O-R-S-E against Beal which attracted a group of students and faculty, Mourning told Patch he was impressed by not just Brad Beal the basketball player, but Beal the young man.
“He’s a good kid. Its such a balance in his life because not only is he an excellent player and his athletic abilities are pretty amazing at that age, he puts that same type of work in the classroom,” said Mourning, who added that’s a tribute to Beal’s family.
The rest of the nation will see Beal on the national stage next weekend at a select Nike event and later this month in the Jordan Brand Classic.