(June 29, 2012) The Washington Wizards selected Florida University freshman shooting guard Bradley Beal with the third pick in the 2012 NBA draft June 28.

Most draft experts expected Washington to take Beal, so it was no surprise when the 6-foot, 3-inch guard heard his name called just minutes after the Charlotte Bobcats took Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrest with the second pick.

Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, the National Player of the Year, was selected first overall by the New Orleans Hornets.

Beal is expected to help fill Washington’s void of perimeter scorers. He averaged nearly 15 points per game, shooting 33 percent from the three-point line as a freshman at Florida. The sharp-shooter also averaged a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game, making him one of the best rebounding guards in college basketball.

Beal will be paired up with third-year point guard John Wall, the top pick in the 2010 draft. Washington has room for improvement in the scoring department, as the team ranked 22nd in the NBA last season with only 93.6 points per game.

“This is by far the best birthday that I’ve ever had,” said Beal, who turned 19 on the day of the draft. “This really beats all the presents my mom and dad ever got me.”

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld seemed just as excited to land Beal.

“We had some real good choices there – but yes, we were hoping he would fall to three,” Grunfeld told local reporters. “He can stretch the defense, is a very good three-point shooter and he knows how to play the game.”

Heading into the draft, Washington wasn’t certain that Beal would be available for them at No. 3. There had been rumors circulating that Charlotte planned on trading its No. 2 pick to a team interested in taking Beal. But the trade never happened, and Washington got its guy.

“Yeah, [we were] worried,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman told reporters. “[We] heard all day long that Cleveland or Houston or somebody was going to jump up there because of his name, and I got tired of the media talking about Bradley Beal so much the last three days. You know, just shut up.

Wittman said his team was prepared to go in another direction had Beal been taken by another team, but he’s glad they got their guy.

“I tell myself every time I’ve been in this position, it doesn’t do you any good [to panic]. You can’t do anything about it,” Wittman told reporters. “We were going to get a good player anyway, whether somebody jumped up and took Bradley ahead of us or not. There’s some really quality players. We were going to land one of them if somebody decided to jump up there, but there’s no doubt about it that this is the kid that we wanted.”

With high draft picks reserved for losing teams, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis told reporters he hopes this is the last high pick his team sees for a long time.

“I don’t want to be in the lottery anymore,” Leonsis said. “I would find that unacceptable.”