Bradley Beal's mentorship of Brandon Miller, Nick Smith Jr. continues
Beal's mentorship of Miller, Smith Jr. continues originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
CHICAGO -- Nick Smith Jr. had spoken to Bradley Beal not long before last week's NBA Draft combine in Chicago. Brandon Miller was supposed to give him a call, but had yet to when he met with the media.
"I meant to call him last night and I forgot, actually. I actually went to sleep on him. Sorry, Brad. I’ll probably call him sometime today," Miller said.
Both Miller and Smith Jr. are likely first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft on June 22 and they each played for Beal's AAU program, Brad Beal Elite, during their high school years. Now they are going through the pre-draft process and Beal's mentorship has continued.
Beal can, of course, draw from experience as the third overall pick in the 2012 class. He has gone through combine interviews with teams, pre-draft workouts and draft night itself.
Smith Jr. says Beal's guidance can range from positive feedback to tough love. Videos of Beal addressing his AAU players have gone viral for his matter-of-fact tone and colorful language.
"He would call me, [Brandon Miller] and others on the team just to give us motivation," Smith Jr. said. "Obviously, we had those talks where he said a lot of things I can’t say on camera. But it definitely motivated us in ways, for sure."
Beal says his AAU program is designed to operate as close as possible to Division 1 college basketball and NBA teams. They have scouts, a president and a coaching staff with player development assistants.
Brad Beal Elite can feature players from Missouri and the states that border it. Miller is from Tennessee, while Smith Jr. is from Arkansas. Miller joined the program based on word of mouth from Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Darius Garland, who played for the team.
The pipeline also includes Celtics star Jayson Tatum, Wizards point guard Jordan Goodwin and Beal himself.
"I came from the same system. You guys can do what I’m doing, if not greater. I try to push them for that. It’s awesome they all accept it," Beal told NBC Sports Washington.
With the Wizards selecting eighth overall, Miller is likely to be off the board by the time they are on the clock. Most mock drafts project him to be picked second by the Charlotte Hornets, who may pass on Scoot Henderson with LaMelo Ball already entrenched at point guard.
Smith Jr., on the other hand, is a possibility for Washington at No. 8 and interviewed with team officials in Chicago. He is slated to go in the second half of the lottery, though more often than not in the early teens.
Smith Jr. says he watched a lot of Wizards games this season to keep tabs on how Beal was doing and to study his game. Like Beal, Smith Jr. is a shooting guard, so there are parallels.
By watching the Wizards, Smith Jr. feels he has a good grasp of how they play which could come in handy if he ends up being drafted there. It that scenario, he would likely come in as Beal's back-up.
Miller, meanwhile, will likely be playing against Beal in just a few months, just as other alums of his AAU team have over the years, guys like Garland and Moses Moody.
For now, Beal is there to help with whatever they need.
"It’s definitely a unique feeling to have one of those guys to mentor you and just guide you through the way," Miller said.