Brea Beal was a part of a historic run at South Carolina the past two seasons, and it led to her to landing in the WNBA. Beal was selected with the No. 24 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday by the Minnesota Lynx, where she will team up with coach Cheryl Reeve.
Being a defensive-minded player, Beal believes she can help the Lynx on that end of the floor after they finished with the third-lowest defensive rating in the WNBA in 2022.
“Definitely very familiar with that coach and that team,” she told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be here as it is and just be called.”
Beal averaged just 6.1 points per game across four seasons with the Gamecocks but upped her 3-point shooting percentage from 24% to 38% in 2022-23 while averaging 6.4 points per game. Her real value came on defense, where she was named first team All-SEC Defense and a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year.
She helped South Carolina to win the national championship in 2022 and was part of a school-record 36 wins this past season before falling to Iowa in the Final Four.
“Just constantly being a dog,” Beal said of where her defensive prowess comes from. “Having pride. Going out there with your all. If you have something in front of you, you’ve gotta go take it.”
Beal was the fourth Gamecocks player taken in the draft, joining teammates Aliyah Boston, Laeticia Amihere and Zia Cooke. As she prepares to make the transition from college to pros, she offered some insight on her mindset.
“Just continue having the years that I’ve been having, especially this past year,” she said. “Continue being me, embracing me and being the scorer that I was.”
Brea Beal opens up on mental health battle, offers advice
Beal credited her improved shooting and offense in 2022-23 to an increased focus on improving her mental health. She continued to tell herself that she was a good shooter despite her struggles in the past, and it paid off with a career-best season.
She drew from that experience to offer some words of encouragement to other athletes who may be struggling.
“Really, just invest in yourself,” she said. “I invested in myself and that’s why I’m here today.”
Beal gave credit to her teammates and coaches at South Carolina for their role in helping her see those results. It’s in part because of them that she is where she is today.
“I chose somewhere where I trusted people,” she said. “I trusted the people around me. It gets hard. Especially being a student-athlete and having to juggle everything. So you trust those people to help you through those and they did for me.”