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In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.
DeVon Walker: A season over before it started
Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.
Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.
It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).
Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.
Leaving on a jet plane
According to senior writer Scott Carter of Florida’s school website, the exceedingly long day that Gators head football coach Will Muschamp had on Tuesday turned out to be much longer than expected.
As is well known, Florida sends Muschamp wherever he needs to go on the University Athletic Association’s private jet; however, for each of the last two trips to ESPN’s campus for the network’s “Car Wash” event, the flight has made pit stops in Columbia, South Carolina, to pick up current USC head coach Steve Spurrier.
That happened again on Tuesday and everything went swimmingly for both men as they made the rounds at ESPN, participating in roundtables, television interviews, radio spots and podcasts. Things were not so smooth, however, on the way home.
Per Carter, Muschamp, Spurrier and those that rode with both men were forced to make an unplanned stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after the UAA plane “suffered a non-emergency mechanical issue soon after passing over” New York, New York. UF is quick to point out that “the pilots never declared an emergency” but were nevertheless forced to land in Philadelphia.
Whatever mechanical issue was suffered by the UAA’s jet apparently made it unfit to take off again in a short period of time as Muschamp and Spurrier never got back on the plane. Instead, the coaches waited two hours and took a chartered flight first to Columbia and then back to Gainesville.
Flight records show that the Embraer Phenom 300 twin-jet carrying Muschamp and Spurrier took off from Waterbury-Oxford airport 28 minutes late at 3:58 p.m. but never made its planned arrival at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Instead, the plane was landed at the Philadelphia International Airport and eventfully flown over to Greenville, South Carolina, where it landed at 10:05 p.m. Tuesday night.
It remains in Greenville, as of press time, and does not currently have a flight back to Gainesville scheduled on its manifest.
Five different “Paths to the Draft”
OnlyGators.com exclusive original blog series, Path to the Draft, took a strange turn this year as its football and basketball participants were both surprised how their respective journeys to become professionals ended.
Since the series began – following forward Chandler Parsons leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft – its first three participants were all selected approximately where they expected to be in their respective events.
Parsons was chosen by the Houston Rockets with the 38th overall pick in the second round. In the 2012 NFL Draft, safety Josh Evans thought he would go in the fifth round but was snatched up by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first pick of the sixth. Unlike Parsons, F Erik Murphy did not have an inkling his future team would select him but did expect to get snagged in the second round. He was plucked by the Chicago Bulls with the 49th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.
This year, cornerback Jaylen Watkins and center Patric Young were not so lucky. Though both have since found soft landing spots, the process was exceptionally stressful for the players as things did not necessarily go as planned.
Watkins performed so well at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine – and received such high praise from teams in one-on-one interviews – that he expected to be selected in the second round of the draft, ahead of Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Though he did get picked ahead of his Gators teammates (neither of which were ultimately drafted), Watkins lasted through the second day of the draft and was forced to go through a sleepless night that Friday wondering where he would wind up. As fate would have it, Watkins was selected with the first pick of the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles, one of two teams he mentioned in his final blog entry as being a perfect fit.
Young went through a similar situation. Told leading up to the draft that his range was 25-35, Young thought there was an outside chance he could be a first-round pick but came to terms with the fact that he would likely go early in the second round. Instead, due to a combination of some teams avoiding bringing players onto their rosters (opting to draft foreign players they could stash overseas) and others having concerns about his offensive game, Young shockingly went undrafted.
He was understandably dejected that night, especially considering the fact that players he bested in head-to-head competition in the Southeastern Conference got drafted while the league’s Defensive Player of the Year waited for his phone to ring.
However, like Watkins, Young’s story ended on a very positive note. The New Orleans Pelicans, one of many teams Young felt comfortable with in the pre-draft process, offered him guaranteed money and a training camp invitation along with a spot on their Summer League team. Once the Pelicans got an opportunity to see Young perform in Las Vegas, Nevada, New Orleans inked him to a two-year rookie contract, as first reported by OnlyGators.com.
All’s well that ends well. All five players that have participated in OnlyGators.com’s Path to the Draft series are under contract with professional teams.
Parsons signed a three-year, $46 million contract (the first maximum deal signed by a former Florida player in the NBA) with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, Evans is competing for a starting job in Jacksonville, Watkins is turning heads in Philadelphia and Young should make his team’s final roster as well. The future of Murphy, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, remains to be seen.
Not Only Gators: The Marine Biologist
With a show like Seinfeld, arguably the best sitcom in the history of television and funniest program of all time, singling out a greatest or best-constructed scene in a nine-year run of 180 episodes is nearly impossible.
But if one was to undertake such a task, one of four No. 1 seeds in a 64-scene bracket would absolutely be the final scene of the 78th episode, The Marine Biologist.
As part of an extensive interview with the Archive of American Television, Jason Alexander “discusses a typical week of production on ‘Seinfeld’” and reveals how one of the program’s most famous scenes was not part of the original script and instead added at the very last moment because the show’s close was not funny enough to the audience. It was also shot in a single take.
The entire clip is interesting and part of a much longer interview; however, if you simply want to hear about the aforementioned incident, skip ahead to 6:40.
“The sea was angry that day, my friends…like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.”
This Week’s Trailer
The Skeleton Twins:
The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
Samuel L. Jackson’s Best Movie Roles:
1. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)
2. Stephen (Django Unchained)
3. Carl Lee Hailey (A Time to Kill)
4. Zeus Carver (Die Hard: With a Vengeance)
5. Gator Purify (Jungle Fever)
Because it’s Samuel L. Jackson, who is credited as an actor in 157 different films, here is a supplemental “honorable mention” list in no particular order:
– Coach Ken Carter (Coach Carter)
– Trevor Garfield (One Eight Seven)
– Mister Senor Love Daddy (Do the Right Thing)
– Big Don (True Romance)
– Tat Lawson (Menace II Society)
Thanks for reading.