MIAMI (AP) Michael Beasley left his workout with the Miami Heat last week, telling confidants that he wanted to begin his NBA career learning from Pat Riley.
He's in line to get that opportunity.
The star Kansas State forward went to the Heat with the No. 2 selection in Thursday's NBA draft, moments after the Chicago Bulls, as expected, took Memphis point guard Derrick Rose with the top overall pick.
So barring a trade, Beasley will line up alongside Dwyane Wade when the Heat begin their rebuilding project next season.
"I'm telling them that they're going to get a great player," the 19-year-old Beasley said, "and a great person off the court."
Beasley is expected to arrive in South Florida on Friday, when he'll be formally introduced as the highest Heat draft pick in team history. Most of the estimated 4,000 fans at the team's draft party stood and cheered when Beasley's name was announced; one young boy even wore a Heat jersey with "Beasley" stitched over the name of a former Miami player Shaquille O'Neal.
"I don't think there was any question on our part," said Riley, the Heat president who retired as head coach after this past season. "We love Michael. He's an incredible athlete. He's a great scorer. I don't even want to get into talking with you about the numbers we've analyzed. They're really off the charts."
Beasley averaged 26.2 points and a Division I-best 12.4 rebounds in his lone season at Kansas State. The Heat were largely silent in the weeks leading up to the draft and worked out several other prospects, prompting speculation they simply weren't enthralled with Beasley.
Not even close. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra even called the Miami-doesn't-want-Beasley talk in recent days "a little humorous."
"In the last couple days, we felt very comfortable that if he was available we were very excited to take the pick," Spoelstra said.
Riley said his top personnel staff general manager Randy Pfund, player personnel VP Chet Kammerer and director of college scouting Adam Simon "got me in a room and made sure that Mr. Beasley was going to be part of the Miami Heat."
"He's a young player, we hope that he matures real quickly and we feel like we have the infrastructure and the organization down here to help him do that," Riley said.
Beasley, according to the people around him, would be thrilled to be on South Beach for years to come.
"He can't wait to get going," said Bruce Shingler, who left his job on Kansas State's basketball staff to be Beasley's mentor for his first pro season.
Many observers tabbed Beasley as the top talent in college basketball last season. Listed at 6-foot-10 but standing closer to 6-foot-8 Beasley has both the power to finish around the basket and the finesse to step outside, meaning he could play either forward position for the Heat.
And clearly, Miami could use the help.
"We needed a lot of holes filled," Riley said. "And we still do."
Spoelstra insisted that the Heat drafted Beasley with a plan to keep him.
"Michael is definitely picked to play for the Heat," Spoelstra said.
The Heat finished 15-67 this past season, matching the worst record in franchise history. It was an injury-marred season Wade missed 31 games and he, Udonis Haslem, Shawn Marion, Alonzo Mourning and Dorell Wright all suffered season-ending maladies. Plus, when it became apparent that the postseason was out of Miami's reach, the team traded Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix, ushering in a new rebuilding era.
Beasley, apparently, now becomes the first step in Riley's master plan to turn the Heat around.
"He speaks so highly of coach Riley," Shingler said. "And the reality of it is, like coach Riley, Michael is a winner."