While I was at the Marshall County Hoopfest this past weekend, I found myself attempting to act like I was an actual member of the media. I mean oh sure, I do co-host a radio show, write for KSR and am a nationally syndicated columnist (or at least that is what the bio of the show says), but writing on the internet does not actually “feel” like real news. When I went to the SEC Tournament, I was really the only writer with internet pre-dominant credentials and as I traversed the Georgia Dome, I always had a sneaking suspicion that I looked like an extra from “Van Wilder” that had accidentally been placed on the set of “Schindler’s List”.
However at the Hoopfest, I began to feel at home. A couple of folks came up and recognized me (which is bizarre) and I was even asked my opinion of the players by a few people, including an assistant coach. So just as I was settling into my role as a professional, onto the court strode Michael Beasley. Now for those of you who havent heard of Beasley, he is a Jr, 6’6″ kid from Oak Hill high school, ranked #2 in the junior class and a stud athlete. I knew of him vaguely, but as he began warming up, my knowledge was limited. However then he proceeded to put on a show.
During warmups, he did a variety of dunks that put the resident high-flying act of my generation, Vince Carter, to shame. Beasley did a 360 with little effort, a reverse windmill while yawning and a between the legs dunk while reciting poetry. The man looked to be expending no energy while driving the crowd wild with his vast array of dunks. Just as I was unable to stay in my seat during the UK-LSU game at the SEC Tournament last year and stood up and cheered, leading to disapproving looks from the professional media types, Beasley’s performance had me bobbing, weaving and clapping, much to the disapproval of the Dave Telep and Bob Gibbons of the world. AT this point however, I didnt mind. Without a doubt, Michael Beasley is the best athlete I have seen at the high school level outside of King Lebron. As I said on the show, he is the Truth, and people better get on board.
After the game I had a chance to talk to him and found out that he is an interesting speaking as he is playing. When I asked him about his game, he said, “I play like no one. In ten years, you can ask the new high school players who they play like, and they will say me. Because I am new.” When I questioned him about his rivalry with #1 ranked OJ Mayo, his answer was even more matter of fact, “There is no rivalry. I am better. No offense to OJ as he is great, but I should be the #1 player in the class.” He said all of these comments with a subtle bravado and as someone who likes to meet interesting people, I ate it up.
After the game I asked one of the recruiting folks who has been doing this for many years, his take on Beasley. He said that Beasley was the fourth best player he has ever seen at this point, behind Garnett, Lebron and (sorry Michael) OJ Mayo. Beasley, who committed to Charlotte in the 8th grade, may not be on the collegiate market, but he is the only player I have ever seen live, who I KNEW would be in the NBA someday. We are having him on our show in two weeks (and he invited me to call any of his THREE cell phones) and I hope you enjoy the kid as much as I did. Remember the name folks….Michael Beasley, and dont tell OJ that he may be number 2.