Brea Beal has had a busy and productive summer on the basketball court.
Still, don't expect the Rock Island junior to make a college decision any time soon.
Beal, one of the nation's top-ranked recruits in the 2019 class and the reigning Ms. Basketball in Illinois, pretty much indicates her decision is likely a good year away.
“This year will be the year I gather all the schools I am really interested in, what I want to study, and then figure it out from there,” she said. “Next year, I will cut some things down.”
Beal’s recruiting process, like many things, goes through her dad, Kevin Beal, a former Division I basketball player at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).
For now Beal is mainly getting some rest after playing two to three games a day for 14 straight days with her AAU team, the Midwest Elite out of Chicago.
“After the last tournament, I came home and went straight to my room and shut the door and just laid in bed,” she said in an interview last week. “I am going to chill for a couple of weeks.”
With school starting last Thursday, though, she does plan to get back to working out fairly soon for three days a week.
That means 90-minute workouts with her dad that will include two minutes of jumping rope, work with a weighted ball, shooting 1,000 shots and plenty of time on basketball moves.
She’s not really talking to any college coaches right now. However, getting an offer from former super power Tennessee earlier this summer was nice, she said.
“Everybody aims for the UConns and stuff and I still do,” she said, “but Tennessee is one of the biggest colleges out there so getting their attention and them wanting me to come and play there is just amazing.”
Kevin Beal says just about all the top schools in all the top conferences have shown major interest in his daughter, including Stanford and UConn. Coaches can start calling her again in September.
Brea says the plan now is to catch up on all the interest shown to her this summer and begin sorting things out. She’s glad to have her dad to help, especially since he’s dealt with some of it before.
“It’s helped,” Brea said, “since he’s been there and done that.”
He will help, Kevin Beal indicated, but the decision will not be his.
“That will be her decision with whoever she’s comfortable with after she’s had a few more conversations and taken visits to schools and campuses,” he said. “She may decide early. She may wait until her senior year. I don’t know.”
There is no timetable, he said, and there never was. The only real long-range plan was for Brea to attend college free, doing something she enjoys and capitalizing on it.
Kevin Beal believes he does have some wisdom to pass on from his experience in the recruiting world about two decades ago.
“Have your expectations for yourself and of a school that you want to attend,” he said of advice he’s given her. “Don’t make decisions based on what anybody else has said, and what you heard. Find out what you are interested in.”
He also wants his daughter to be very respectful of the college coaches.
“Know that it works both ways,” he said. “You’ve got to be respectful of everybody’s who’s interested in you. That’s why we communicate no matter what the school is.”
He wants Brea to be appreciative of all the interest, too.
“It’s all a blessing, that these schools are interested in you,” her father said. “Be serious about it because this is these coaches' livelihood. Don’t waste their time. They have opportunities to go after other kids. That’s our approach. Respect everyone.”
He says Brea’s summer was pretty productive. “She’s been playing in pretty competitive tournaments,” he noted.
Brea said she worked on her shooting, improving the arc of her shot and becoming a better dribbler. “Because it’s a lot more advanced, (the higher up you go) so dribbling has to be tighter, shooting has to be quicker and more efficient.”
The thought of Beal, who averaged 20.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 3.1 assists as a sophomore, possibly getting better is more than enough to scare most coaches.
But it is something her high school coach Thad Hoover has come to expect.
“All I can tell you she is improving all the time,” Hoover said, noting mornings where he’s run into her working out in the gym. “You come into our gym, there’s a chance you are going to run into her working. Her work ethic is what has made her.
“I said same thing after her freshman year, she will make big strides. I have no doubt she will do that again.”
Brea says her team that included a lot of members of the 2019 recruiting class did well this summer against older AAU teams.
“I am happy because I have learned so much,” she said of the summer competition. “I am using what I learned at AAU.”
She plans to use the experience she picked up this summer this winter for the Rocks, adding she’s “excited for the school year.”
Without trying to, Beal also offered a bit of a warning.
She believes she not only improved her strength this summer, but grew an inch or two, noting she kept measuring herself against a taller player and was surprised that that player seemed shorter. Brea thinks she now could be as tall as 6-feet-2.
And the game may even mean more to her now. “I am a lot more serious,” she said.