At 6 feet 5, Bradley Beal is so big that television workers need to stand on chairs to clip microphones onto his shirt.
As the starting shooting guard for the Washington Wizards, the former Chaminade prep star is big enough to draw 100 local kids — some wearing his jersey — to a basketball camp that sports his name.
But even with 2,029 career NBA points and a playoff series victory to his credit before his 21st birthday, Beal isn’t too big to bypass a home-cooked meal or some parental advice.
“I spend most of my offseason here,” said Beal, who stays with his parents in St. Charles. “It’s kind of keeping me young. I’m still young. I just turned 21, so I’m still like a little kid to (my parents).”
A kid? Maybe. But Beal’s doing big things.
It’s been just three years since Beal graduated from Chaminade as the Post-Dispatch All-Metro player of the year after a senior season in which he averaged 32.4 points per game.
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Since then he’s been named All-Southeastern Conference and made an Elite Eight appearance with the University of Florida, been selected No. 3 in the NBA draft and solidified a spot in the Wizards’ up-and-coming backcourt.
Now he’s preparing for his third NBA season, during which the Wizards will look to improve on this spring’s playoff appearance, their first since 2008.
Their hopes revolve around a young, emerging core that includes Beal. Point guard John Wall, 23, signed a five-year extension last fall. The Wizards locked up center Marcin Gortat this week and are seeking to do the same with forward Trevor Ariza.
Beal’s 17.1 points per game last season placed second on the team, and he averaged 19.2 points in 11 playoff games.
Ever the marksman, Beal shot more than 40 percent from 3-point range last season.
But it’s easy to forget he’s still a kid.
“It’s weird,” Beal said about the real kids, ages 8-18, who attended his three-day camp at Chaminade this week. “When I talk to them I just tell them, ‘I’m not too much older than you guys.’ They think I’m this superstar, I’m this old guy now. But I’m only a couple years older than these guys.”
Beal gives the campers the rush of going one-on-one with an NBA player. Normally his competition is much stiffer, as he regularly battles backcourt mate and All-Star Wall in head-to-head matchups.
“The series may be even, honestly,” Beal said. “It gets to the point that neither of us will leave the gym on a loss. So we just play and play and play until we’re about to fall down.”
The sessions with the kids serve as a welcome break and an opportunity to repay his hometown for all it has given him.
“Just the fact that I can give something to them, give them hope,” said Beal, who will work another camp in Washington D.C. before heading to Team USA minicamp this month. “When I grew up, I didn’t have an NBA player come show me, come talk to me, or come play one-on-one against me or anything like that. It’s fun for me to give back to them.”
Beal has given particular attention to Chaminade star Jayson Tatum, ESPN’s No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2016 who will enter his junior year with scholarship offers from Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, among other powerhouses. Tatum also has received offers from Mizzou and St. Louis University.
Beal’s mother, Besta, coached Tatum’s mom in volleyball at University City High, and it was the Beals who recommended Chaminade for Tatum.
Tatum is a 6-foot-8 point guard whose game doesn’t align perfectly with Beal’s, but that never stopped them from admiring one another.
“He’s always helped me out and put me under his wing from a very young age,” said Tatum, who has been a Beal fan since elementary school. “It’s something I appreciate a lot.”
The two are so close that last spring Tatum visited Beal in Washington and stayed at his apartment. Beal introduced him to his teammates, including Wall, whom Tatum was excited to meet.
In their down time, Beal and Tatum played video games.
“That’s who (Beal) is,” Chaminade athletics director Tom Fernandez said. “He’s a big kid. He’s a kid who happens to be in the NBA.”
Fernandez has seen his share of professional athletic talent come through during his 17 years at the prep school. The school Hall of Fame on the back wall of the gym cafeteria holds plaques of two professional athletes currently in their prime: Golden State forward David Lee and hockey center Paul Stastny, who was acquired Tuesday by the Blues.
Beal’s name isn’t eligible yet — there is a five-year post-graduation wait — but his jersey hangs alongside Lee’s in the rafters.
“I was saying yesterday, I might as well tell the panel when we meet in the fall, we have our first candidate for 2016,” Fernandez said. “Oh my gosh. It’s a no-brainer.”