- Mitchell Northam The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Before he was a Florida State Seminole or a Denver Nugget, Malik Beasley was a boys basketball player at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta.
Beasley scored 1,959 points for the Knights, grabbed 728 rebounds and led the high school hoops team from Alpharetta to two state titles in 2014 and 2015.
Now, anytime anyone steps in St. Francis’ gym, they’ll know Beasley played there.
Beasley, who just completed his rookie NBA season, had his No. 5 jersey retired by St. Francis on Tuesday. He was in Alpharetta that day and stopped by the school to talk with the Knights’ current players.
“He always had a smile on his face,” St. Francis coach Drew Catlett told Nuggets.com. “Always had a great attitude. He just has an unbelievable work ethic. I’ve been coaching 30 years on different levels, I’m not sure I’ve ever been around a kid that works as hard as he does. … From where he was a freshman, if you think about it, in six years he’s playing in the NBA, it’s kind of an incredible journey.”
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard had an inconsistent rookie season, splitting time between the Nuggets and a D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Beasley impressed there, averaging 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game through 16 contests, according to Basketball-Reference.com. He shot nearly 46 percent from the floor there.
But the 20-year-old swingman was solid when he played in the big leagues too. Beasley played a combined 72 minutes in the Nuggets last two games of the season – a pair of wins over the Thunder and Mavericks – and tallied a total of 33 points, five assists, three steals and eight rebounds.
In 22 appearances for the Nuggets, Beasley averaged 3.8 points per game. Denver just missed the playoffs, finishing ninth in the west with a 40-42 record.
Beasley and Jamal Murray are the Nuggets youngest players at just 20 years old, and both seem to be a part of the team’s plans going forward.
“You would have never thought I would have been somebody four or five years ago,” Beasley told Nuggets.com. “I was just a scrawny little kid just looking to have some fun. I didn’t start working hard until my junior year. My freshman and sophomore year I was still looking to play baseball and football. Then the dream changed.”