DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) -Michael Beasley kept drifting away from the podium, and he couldn't help but notice people at the hotel next door peeking through the fence to catch a glimpse of the player the Chicago Bulls could draft No. 1.
``Man, I got people behind the fence, too?'' he said.
All eyes were on Beasley when he visited the Bulls' practice facility Tuesday, and Derrick Rose figures to get the same treatment this week. Holding the first pick in the NBA draft later this month, Chicago has a big decision: Beasley, a forward from Kansas State who would provide a sorely lacking scoring presence, or Rose, a point guard who just led Memphis to the NCAA championship game.
Quick, strong and agile, Beasley put together one of the best seasons ever by a freshman, becoming the third in NCAA history to lead the nation in rebounds at 12.4 per game while averaging 26.2 points. He had the second-most rebounds and third-most points by a freshman in NCAA history, helping Kansas State to its first NCAA tournament victory in 20 years.
He was the Big 12 player of the year, a consensus All-American and the runner-up to North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough for several player of the year awards, but there are concerns about his character and height.
He measured 6-foot-8 1/4 at the NBA's predraft camp after being listed at 6-10 in college.
``It's a little disappointing to me to find out I'm actually a midget,'' Beasley said in jest. ``But it's not a big deal to me.''
A bit fidgety and uncomfortable at times, Beasley still showed a sense of humor that has endeared him to some and landed him in trouble.
He joked that if the Bulls take him, ``I know we've got one Jayhawk (Kirk Hinrich) I'll have to get along with.''
And he had this to say when asked about the Bulls' psychological test: ``They asked if I was crazy.''
Did he answer yes or no?
``I left that one unanswered,'' he said.
Fair or not, one of the major issues surrounding him is his character.
To that, Beasley said, ``If I have character issues, sorry - I guess.''
The issues stem from Beasley's sense of humor.
He's a prankster, has been since he was a young child.
It was not a major problem when his targets were friends and relatives, but teachers and school administrators were not always amused.
He wound up attending seven schools in five years as a teen, and that included a stint at basketball power Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, where he was told not to come back after he and a teammate bet who could sign his name in black marker on the most objects in the school.
``I've never been asked what my character issues (are),'' Beasley said. ``If you were to ask me, I wouldn't know. I like to smile. I like to see people smile. There are not enough smiles around here.''
It's a good bet that the Bulls asked about them, and the Miami Heat, who own the second pick, figure to do the same when he visits them.
Beasley called the doubts ``funny'' and said his critics ``don't know me. Those people have never seen me a day in their life, except for the TV interviews and the Internet interviews.''
And he shrugged off his moves from school to school, saying, ``Nothing's normal. The average height is 6 feet. I'm seven inches over. That's not normal. Nothing's normal. That's just the path that I went. Everyone has a different path, and mine was just a little longer.''
Now, he figures to go to the Bulls or Heat, teams that crumbled last season.
Chicago expected to contend in the Eastern Conference, only to lose 49 games after making three straight playoff appearances. Coach Scott Skiles lost his job in December, interim coach Jim Boylan got fired after the season and Vinny Del Negro recently was hired after the search dragged on for about two months.
Now, a decade after Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won their sixth championship in eight years, the Bulls hope to pick another franchise player.
``It would mean a lot being the No. 1 pick,'' he said. ``Coming to a franchise with so much history and such a big legacy would mean even more.''

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