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March 28, 2008
Beasley still not sure what his future holds
» MORE: Rivals.com All-America Team | NCAA Tournament Central
"I knew I was going to have an immediate impact in the college game," Beasley told Rivals.com. "But, honestly, I didn't think it would be this big of an impact."
You can't blame Beasley, Rivals.com's national player of the year, for being surprised. No freshman has ever been more productive.
Beasley ranks third nationally in scoring at 26.2 points per game and is just the third freshman to lead the nation in rebounding (12.4 per game). The others were Loyola-Chicago's Kenny Miller, who did it in 1988 and Louisiana Tech's Paul Millsap in 2004.
Only eight other players have ranked among the top five in both categories in the past 25 years, and only one was a freshman. Former Texas star Kevin Durant was fourth in scoring and fourth in rebounding last season on his way to sweeping national player of the year awards, averaging 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds.
Beasley set a freshman record and led the nation with 28 double-doubles, eight more than Durant and the most by anyone since Wake Forest's Tim Duncan in 1996-97. Beasley had 13 games of at least 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Moreover, Durant played primarily on the wing, making it easier to get the ball in his hands. Beasley plays in the post for the most part, making him reliant on other players to get him the ball and far easier to double-team.
"I didn't try to think about what Kevin did," said Beasley, who became friends with Durant while the two were growing up together in the Washington, D.C., area. "I just wanted to be me. I wanted to make my own mark."
Beasley certainly did that. Beasley carried Kansas State, which had little success in basketball over the past two decades, to its best finish ever in the Big 12 at third place, its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996 and its first win in the NCAA Tournament since 1988.
Beasley also led K-State, which boasted one of the nation's youngest teams, to its first win at home over archrival Kansas in 24 years. The Wildcats earned an 84-75 triumph in which Beasley hit all four of his 3-point attempts and scored a game-high 25 points.
"Beating KU was definitely my favorite moment," Beasley said. "Being the first team to do that in so long was special. I'm disappointed that we lost (in second round of NCAA Tournament), but I'm satisfied with what we accomplished."
Of all the accolades Beasley has received – he is one of four finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award (North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts and UCLA's Kevin Love are the others) – he said one stands apart from the others.
"I'll never forget when I heard Dick Vitale calling me a 'PTPer' (prime time player)," Beasley said. "Growing up I heard him call some of the great players I looked up to PTPers, and I always wanted to hear him say that about me."
Beasley could be hearing NBA commissioner David Stern call him the No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft. Beasley is projected as the top pick on many draft boards, but he says he isn't a lock to leave college yet.
"I'll have a decision no later than a couple weeks," Beasley said. "I'm going to look at the pros and cons. I'm undecided for now. I'm right in the middle. If I'm going to play 15 minutes a game in the NBA, then I won't go. I know I will play 35-40 minutes a game here in college and that will help my game more."
With six freshmen seeing significant minutes this season, K-State could make sharp improvement in 2008-09 if Beasley and classmate Bill Walker, who combined with Beasley to form the top scoring tandem in Big 12 history (42.3 points per game), were to stay in school.
"That kind of makes me want to stay," Beasley said. "Me and my teammates are like a family here, but it's also about more than that. I have to make the best decision for me."
Kansas State first-year coach Frank Martin believes that means going pro, and he has voiced his support for Beasley leaving school. "I think he's going to go, and I think it's the right thing to do, because he's going to be the top pick in the draft," Martin said in a recent AP interview.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.