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Thursday May 2, 2013 Former Gator Bradley Beal finishes 3rd in NBA Rookie of Year voting

Updated: 12:10pm, May 2

Beal is third in rookie of year voting GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It was just over a year ago that he sat in Billy Donovan’s office torn and in tears over the biggest decision of his life.

Stay or go?

“I can still remember all my conversations with Coach Donovan,” former Florida basketball star Bradley Beal told The Washington Post. “This year went really fast, probably the fastest year of basketball I’ve ever played. It’s definitely been a fun year.”

A rewarding one, too.

Despite a string of injuries that bounced Beal in and out of the Washington Wizards lineup, the team’s first-round draft choice -- the No. 3 overall pick last June after an All-Southeastern Conference freshman season -- still placed third in the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year voting announced Wednesday.

Beal, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard, finished behind Portland Trailblazers guard Damian Lilliard, who won the award by a unanimous haul of first-place votes, and runner-up Anthony Davis, the center from the New Orleans Hornets.

In 56 games, Beal averaged 13.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the floor and 38.6 percent from 3-point range. Those latter two numbers may not be so impressive, but his 47-percent shooting from the arc once former No. 1 overall pick and point guard John Wall joined the team off a knee injury gave the Wizards hope they’ve found their backcourt for years to come.

In many ways, Beal’s rookie season mirrored his freshman season at Florida, where he struggled through the first couple months to find his rhythm and confidence then blossomed into UF’s go-go scorer in a run to the 2012 Elite Eight.

“It was everything I thought it would be and a little bit more,” Beal said of the NBA. “I know there would be time when I would struggle. Guys are a lot stronger and faster -- and these guys are good. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. You may never have heard of anybody, but they can play.”

Beal was one of 10 former UF players in the NBA this season and at No. 3 overall tied Al Horford as the second-highest a Gator had ever been selected in the draft. Center Neal Walk went No. 2 overall in 1969. 

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