Beasley, Jordan prove they can be impact players
Posted: Monday July 2, 2007 1:35PM; Updated: Monday July 2, 2007 5:56PM
DALLAS -- Michael Beasley and DeAndre Jordan arrived in Dallas last week with big reputations but unproven track records. Both were highly recruited high school players and both will likely start as freshmen for Big 12 schools next season -- Beasley for Kansas State and Jordan for Texas A&M. Still, they have yet to participate in a college practice, much less a game, which stood in contrast to most of the guys who were selected to the team USA Basketball will send to Serbia later this month to compete in the Under-19 World Championships.
And yet, being named to the 12-man team among the 18 who tried out is an indication Beasley and Jordan can both have a huge impact on their teams next season. Beasley had 12 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes during an exhibition win over a team from China on Sunday night, while Jordan added seven points and two rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. But whatever they do on the court during the tournament is not nearly as important as the knowledge and confidence they'll gain from the experience.
"This is crazy. It's a big honor for me just to be invited to try out for a team like this," Jordan said. "My biggest strength is my size, but I know I have to work on my perimeter defense." Beasley said, "I'm just looking to grow mentally, most of all. I want to take my maturity to a new level -- meet new people, go to Serbia, get to know everybody on my team. It's going to be fun."
It's interesting Beasley would mention his maturity, because the biggest criticism of him is that he is deficient in that department. Perhaps that's because he attended four different high schools. Though Beasley is strong for his age and has some impressive moves around the basket, his effort level and body language was not very good during the three workouts I watched in Dallas. As evidenced by his play against China, Beasley usually turns on the burners when game time comes, but to succeed in college he will need to develop a more professional approach overall.
DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright, who is serving as head coach for the under-19 team, noticed a difference from last summer when he was an assistant on the U.S. Under-18 team, which also included Beasley. "He's grown up a lot. I really think he has," Wainwright told me. "Mike's kind of put his toe in the bathtub to test the temperature his whole life. When he gets to the Big 12, they're going to throw him in the bathtub and he's going to have to react. Even though he's probably the most physically gifted player on this team, he's going up against guys who have been through the wars of a college season. He's just another guy to them."
Wainwright says that "humility is the first step in achieving greatness," but Beasley does not suffer from an excess of that trait. "I don't care if I'm going up against Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley or Patrick Ewing. You'll never be able to take my confidence from me," he said. Beasley also bristled when I asked if he's concerned about his reputation of being immature. "No," he said. "I'm going to me. If you look at me and think I'm immature, that's on you."