Gators hope to be picked in 2011 NBA Draft

With the 2011 NBA Draft set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (live on ESPN, OGGOA has rounded up some of the latest prognostications about the trio of Florida Gators hoping to live out their dream – forwards Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus.

Chandler Parsons (Winter Park, FL)
2011 SEC Player of the Year
Height: 6’10″ | Weight: 215 lbs.
2011 Averages: 11.3 PTS, 7.8 TRB, 3.7 AST, .480 FG%, .368 3P%, .557 FT%

Draft Projection: Late first-round to early second-round pick

ESPN’s Chad Ford: No. 32 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers – “If the Cavs get a point guard and a big man early in the draft, don’t be surprised to see them reach a bit for Parsons here. He has great size, is very skilled and has been one of the best workout players in the draft.”

DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony: No. 27 overall to the New Jersey Nets – “Parsons has seen his stock rise significantly over the past few weeks thanks to some impressive workouts. Standing 6-10, he’s one of the most polished and versatile players in the draft, capable of playing as many as three positions. The Nets are fairly weak at small forward and could use another ball-handler capable of passing and making shots from the perimeter.”

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper: No. 33 overall to the Detroit Pistons – “Parsons is a nice offensive package of shooting, passing and ball handling, with intangibles of experience at a major program and a high basketball IQ.”

NBADraft.net: No. 41 overall to the Los Angeles Lakers

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “At 6’10″ and with all that versatility, he can help. You can look at him like some of the other players who have excelled [in the NBA] recently like Wes Matthews and Landry Fields as rookies. If he can find a place, with that size and [his skills] on the perimeter, I think that can be a help. He’s going to have to do it on the defensive end to earn those minutes on the court.”

Rankings: Parsons is listed as the No. 37 overall player in the draft by ESPN and No. 41 overall by CBS – “Parsons is an unselfish performer, earning more satisfaction from feeding the ball to an open teammate than creating the shot for himself. He ranks 10th in school annals with 339 assists. The only other Florida wing on the top 10 assists list is Nick Calathes (452; 2008-09). His 1,462 points is the most among active Florida players.”

Ratings: FOX lists Parsons as the fourth-best passer in the draft, fifth-most versatile player, third-best basketball IQ and the fourth second-round sleeper to look out for.

Vernon Macklin (Portsmouth, VA)
Height: 6’10″ | Weight: 240 lbs.
2011 Averages: 11.6 PTS, 5.4 TRB, 0.7 BLK, .593 FG%, .451 FT%

Draft Projection: Second round pick

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “I’m not going to be shocked if he sneaks into the first round. He may not, but that’s OK. I think he has an excellent chance to make a team this year.”

Rankings: Macklin is listed as the No. 93 overall player in the draft by ESPN but is not being ranked by any other outlets. He is also not mocked to be selected in the draft.

Alex Tyus (St. Louis, MO)
Height: 6’8″ | Weight: 220 lbs.
2011 Averages: 9.1 PTS, 6.2 TRB, 0.8 BLK, .500 FG%, .333 3P%, .630 FT%

Draft Projection: Undrafted

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “At that size, he can be an all-effort player. He can be a guy to set screens, rebound, knock down the open jumper – there are a lot of them out there. But he does have a lot of ability.”

Rankings: Tyus is not found in any Top 100 rankings and is not expected to be selected.

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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Working out and crossing the finish line

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Jet-setting across the country working out for more than half the teams in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday after finally returning to Orlando, FL following a whirlwind tour of the United States. As he patiently waits to learn where he will be playing professional basketball in the future, Parsons is (finally) relaxing with friends, hanging out with family and getting himself prepared for the big day.

With his Path to the Draft set to conclude Thursday, Parsons will check in with one more blog entry to discuss the team that selects him and how he feels about finally reaching his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.

We last spoke with Parsons the day before he worked out for the Denver Nuggets.

Denver was a great workout for me. That was one of the best workouts for me; I competed very hard and won a lot of the games. I feel like my pre-draft conditioning in Los Angeles and Chicago really paid off there because the altitude there. It was so hard to workout there and catch your breath. I felt like I was in really good shape and a lot of the other guys were tired. I felt like that was an advantage for me because I was able to pull through and keep playing through fatigue.

I’ve been playing a lot with Jordan Hamilton [of Texas], and he’s listed as one of the best small forwards in the draft. Every time I get a chance to go up against one of these guys with hype, it’s exciting for me. I got something to prove every time I do it.

I immediately went to the Golden State Warriors on a back-to-back. After a three-hour flight to Oakland, I had a workout with the Warriors which actually went really well, too. These last four workouts have probably been me playing the best. It is probably because there are no nerves now; I’m used to it. Golden State was also a really good workout.

[Clay Thompson of Washington State] was really good. He’s 6’7” and he’s got great size for a shooting guard. And he literally has one of the best shots I have ever seen. He’s got height, so his shot doesn’t get blocked and he gets it off very quickly. I was impressed with him.

Golden State was really cool because Mark Jackson was there, and he just got the [head coaching] job there. He had some really encouraging words for me after the workout. He said he thought I was going to be really good in this league and play immediately because of my skill set and my understanding of how to play with guys. That was really positive and really exciting.

After the Warriors workout, I thought that I had only one more workout with the Boston Celtics. After that workout, I went to the airport and my flight was at 9 p.m. I was taking a red-eye to Logan Airport in Boston. It ended up getting delayed like four hours until 2:10 a.m. and it finally departed, but I didn’t get into Boston until 11 a.m.

I had two days off in Boston and met up with Jeff Goodman, the college basketball writer with CBS. He lives in Boston, so he picked me up and took me to dinner. I was able to relax and get off my feet. I went to the arena and got some shots up with one of their managers the night before. Boston was a really cool town. I got to see Fenway [Park] and just being able to workout in their facility with all the tradition they have there was unbelievable. You see so many banners; it was just unbelievable.

That’s when I found out – on those two off-days in Boston – is when I heard that the Milwaukee Bucks really wanted to get me in on a last-minute thing and that it would be a really strong workout. So I knew going into the Boston workout that I had at least one more on a back-to-back with the Bucks.

In Boston I went against Kyle Singler again from Duke. Did a little bit of everything – posted up, turned around and hits shots. I played really well in that workout and got really positive feedback from [president] Danny Ainge and [head coach] Doc Rivers.

Teams put you in a situation and they want to see how you react to it. And when they see me in a pick-and-roll and a guard switches on me, it shows them a lot the fact that I will duck them in, post up and finish around the rim. That’s something that I’ve really been doing well – when I have a smaller guy on me, taking them to the block and posting them up – versus having a bigger, slower guy on me, I take them off the dribble and use my quickness. I’ve just been trying to show everything.

I immediately went to Milwaukee and worked out with the Bucks last night – that was a monster workout. It was basically all guys that are set to be first-round and had great college years. It was a great opportunity to go up against them and leave a lasting impression. At one point in the workout, their assistant coach said, “Keep going, you’re the best player in the workout right now.” So that was encouraging. Most importantly, these guys just want to see how hard you play and if you can win the drills.

Of course my flight gets delayed until 12:30 a.m. again [Tuesday]. Actually I was on the runway for two hours, and they have a rule where they had to take us off back into the gate and then re-board us 30 minutes to an hour later. After that point, it was kind of a relieving feeling. Looking back on it, I just worked out for 16 NBA teams. I met incredible people, worked out against the best players in the country, and it’s finally over.

I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein], and there’s basically nothing left I could have done. I did everything he asked me to do. I put myself in a great situation to get drafted where I want to get drafted. Now it’s up to [my agent and the teams]. I’m sure they’re going to be on the phone making hundreds of calls these next two days. It’s almost scary because now it’s completely out of my hands; there’s nothing I can do. I’m in Orlando with my family, so I’m probably just going to play golf and just continue to workout. There’s really nothing I can do but enjoy it. I understand that I’ve done it all, left it all out there, and now it’s up to the GMs and the teams.

I feel 100 percent great, and I feel confident. If people were looking at me before this process started as a NBA player, I’ve done every single thing in my power to back-up everything they heard in these workouts. I really 100 percent feel confident about that – that I played very well. I didn’t have a bad workout. I worked hard every single workout and did everything they asked me to do. I was never late, never missed a flight, did everything correctly. I believe I put myself in a great position and really helped myself out throughout the process. All I need is one team to fall in love with me and like me. Whatever team does that is going to get a great player who is going to work hard and contribute right away.

I actually should be exhausted, honestly. My flight got delayed and I got in [Wednesday morning] at 2 a.m., didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m., but I had to wake up this morning early to get a haircut. I was planning on sleeping in. I got a big-time barber; he’s got a tight schedule. I’ve been going to Dennis at Dolce Vida [in downtown Orlando] since high school.

I’ve had a best friend since I was like 12 years old, my boy Pausha, and I’ve been kicking it with him. My family is here, and there will be about 15-20 people at my house Thursday including my AAU coach, Pausha, a couple of my other friends from Florida, my three older brothers and my parents. I’m just going to do a little gathering and not do any media or anything and just do a private thing. The people who have been with me since day one are going to be the only people there. It’s going to be exciting. If it goes as well as planned, the night is definitely not going to stop after the draft. It’s just going to be a great night that we’ve been waiting on for a long time. It’s a really exciting time for me and my family, and I’m hyped for it.

I’ve heard the [post-draft] process is different for every team. Golden State brings in the guys Monday for a press conference, but I’ve heard some teams will bring you in the next day. Whatever team drafts me, I’ll be communicating with them for my plans over the next week and then my plans if this lockout happens.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: Is this draft workout process the most difficult thing you’ve done in your entire basketball career up to this point? – Nina S.
PARSONS: “It’s hard but this is the situation you want to be in. Yeah, it’s exhausting and grueling, but millions of other kids in the world would die to be in my position right now. I wouldn’t say it was the hardest thing for me to do – that probably would have been adjusting from high school basketball to college basketball. The speed of the game, the strength, the conditioning and everything like that. This is fun. This is a dream come true. I’m going out and working out in front of Michael Jordan, Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh. This is something not a lot of people have. Yeah, this was tough, but it is an honor to be in this situation.”

Q: After going through the pre-draft process, is there anything you would have changed about how you played at Florida or do you think you were perfectly prepared for this next step? – Jesse H.
PARSONS: “I think my entire life – I wouldn’t change a thing. I stayed in college for four years and did everything I could. We went through a lot of losses but also a lot of wins. We’ve had some good times and some bad times, and being with Coach [Billy] Donovan for four years made me the player I am today. He taught me what it takes to win, that you can’t take a day off, and he helped me with my maturity. Me growing off the court has helped me grow on the court, just understanding everyday things. I was a late bloomer. Nobody would give me the time of day; nobody wanted me on their AAU team. I was fortunate enough to play on a great high school team with great players. I got a scholarship to Florida – a school I always wanted to go to. I don’t regret anything. I got the school’s first SEC Player of the Year [in basketball] and helped Coach get his first SEC Coach of the Year. We did some special things, and I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of things in my life to be in the situation that I’m in now. And I wouldn’t change any of it.”

Go Gators,

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FOUR BITS: Jenkins, MLB, basketball, CWS

1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was kicked off the team by head coach Will Muschamp following multiple brushes with the law, has officially signed a scholarship with the North Alabama Lions, where he will play under head coach Terry Bowden. “I talked to everybody that I could possibly talk to at Florida, who had a relationship with him,” Bowden told ESPN.com. “From Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp to Jeremy Foley, they all said he is a guy who made a mistake. But it does not represent his character or his time at Florida. They all thought he deserved a second chance.” North Alabama actually represents Jenkins’s fourth chance.

2 » A pair of former Florida baseball players are in the process of being removed from the disabled list by their respective MLB teams. Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis (hamstring) came off the 15-day list Wednesday and will continue to serve as a utility player with the squad. Texas Rangers relief pitcher Darren O’Day (hip) has been out much longer after having surgery in late April. He was placed on the 60-day list and will likely rejoin Texas on Tuesday.

3 » With the NCAA recently coming down hard on the Kentucky Wildcats for celebrating head coach John Calipari’s “500th” victory, the Gators have decided to adjust their men’s basketball record books due to sanctions levied against the team for the actions of former head coach Norm Sloan. “According to the NCAA infractions report, Sloan paid child support to keep one of his players out of jail and paid transportation from Gainesville to Boston to allow one of his players to work as a counselor at a summer basketball basketball camp,” The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway explains. The player in question is presumed to be Vernon Maxwell, who has his final two seasons with the team erased from the media guide. Florida has placed asterisks next to NCAA Tournament games and adjusted their books .

4 » Already 4-1 against the No. 6-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores this season (2-1 on the road, 2-0 at neutral sites), No. 2 Gators baseball will once again take on their Southeastern Conference East division rivals in the semifinals of the 2011 College World Series on Friday at 2 p.m. Florida (52-17) is one win away from advancing to the Championship Series, while Vanderbilt (54-11) would need to defeat UF twice in order to move forward. OGGOA will have complete coverage of the upcoming CWS game, including a full preview, throughout the day on Friday.

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FOUR BITS: freshmen, Tyus, Sweeting, McDonald

1 » Orientation for freshmen student-athletes is underway as both of the Florida Gators incoming basketball commitments and the remaining 12 football signees are now in Gainesville, FL getting their college careers started. Five-star guard Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) and three-star forward Walter Pitchford (East Lansing, MI) join four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL), four-star defensive back Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL), three-star DB Chris Johnson (Ocala, FL), three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT), three-star fullback Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, FL), four-star DB Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL), four-star DB Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, FL), three-star DB Valdez Showers (Madison Heights, MI), four-star linebacker Graham Stewart (Middletown, CT), four-star wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL), four-star OL Trip Thurman (Dover, DE) and three-star defensive end Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek, FL) as the latest players to don the Orange and Blue hoping to make Gator Nation proud. The players will be meeting with academic advisers, taking physicals, beginning workouts, taking drug tests as they prepare to begin workouts and college life in general.

2 » With the 2011 NBA Draft approaching on Thursday, Florida forward Alex Tyus appears to understand exactly what is likely to happen over the course of the event. “Honestly, for Thursday, I’m not expecting to get drafted,” Tyus told InsideTheGators.com’s Kyle Maistri. “But anything can happen.” Having only worked out for four teams since participating in the 2011 Portsmouth Invitational (where he had a strong showing and was one of the event’s standout performers), Tyus understands that his best bet at earning a spot on a NBA bench may come as an undrafted free agent or by working on his game some more in the NBA Development League or overseas. OGGOA will have extensive coverage leading up to, during and after the NBA Draft.

3 » Down two sets in his opening round match at Wimbledon, former Gators tennis player No. 69 Ryan Sweeting came back to defeat opponent No. 50 Pablo Andujar 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(7-1), 6-1. His reward? Taking on the ATP’s top-ranked player in the world, Rafael Nadal, Wed. at 11:30 a.m. in the second round of the event. Nadal, of course, is 2-0 all-time against Sweeting, last defeating him 6-3, 6-1 at Indian Wells earlier this year. Sweeting won his first ATP World Tour event in 2011 and is 10-9 overall this year.

4 » In a conversation with The Sacramento Bee, former Florida defensive end Ray McDonald expressed his desire to earn a starting job in the NFL. Set to become an unrestricted free agent when a new labor deal is signed, McDonald (currently of the San Francisco 49ers) could re-sign with his current team or look elsewhere. “I know I’m an every-down player, a starter,” he said. “And that’s what I’m looking to do this year. I’m not looking to back up anybody. I’m looking to start this year. […] I’ve been waiting four years for this. [Being a free agent] would make my life. That would change everything as far as me going ahead with my future in my NFL career. So that’s some good news – no, excellent news – for me.”

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SIX BITS: Young, Muschamp, Meyer, Ogbueze

1 » Florida Gators sophomore center Patric Young was announced Sunday as one of 13 players to earn a spot on the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team. Following a two-day tryout in Colorado Springs, CO led in part by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, Young was picked as a finalist for the team while sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was cut. Young will now take part in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia over the next few weeks.

While in Colorado Springs, Young was profiled by USA Basketball’s website and spoke about the trials and tribulations he faced during his freshman season. “There was definitely a dark period,” he said. “It was definitely a distraction. I was buying into how good people kept telling me I was and could be and let them influence the type of player I should be and my expectations for myself. I definitely let it all get to my head, and it wasn’t helping me.” Young praised Donovan for helping him clear his head and concentrate on the game. “Because of Coach Donovan, I just don’t listen to the other things anymore,” he added. “I feel like I have a lot of potential, but there’s a lot of room left to grow. I think I’m alright and I could be a good player, but when I do something that no one has ever done before, that’s when I’ll consider myself a great player. […] He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, definitely the best coach I’ve ever had in my life. He’s helped me grow on the court and learn the game in a while new way. I really wouldn’t be anything without him. After just one year with him at Florida, I thought to myself, ‘What have I been doing my whole life?’ It’s amazing how much he taught me in one year.”

2 » University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter sat down with Gators head football coach Will Muschamp’s father Larry Muschamp for a feature about their relationship, growing up in Gainesville, FL and what if anything he passed on to him coaching-wise. “I’ve given him more advice than I should have,” Larry said. “We were just close and football was one of the things that held us together. Will is a driver. He is driven and that’s just the way he is. I don’t think I was ever driven that much and I loved coaching. I loved it tremendously, but I was not as dedicated as Will.” Read the rest of Carter’s story.

3 » No longer confined by the rigors of coaching, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer got the opportunity to relax on the lake this Father’s Day. Here is a picture taken by his daughter, Gigi Meyer, of her father wakeboarding:

4 » Gators sophomore right-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson should have had the second home run in TD Ameritrade Park history on Saturday. Instead, his three-run shot to right-center field was ruled a two-RBI double after umpires decided that it had hit the top of the wall. Late Saturday, NCAA umpiring coordinator Gene McArtor acknowledged the blown call, which was clearly a home run on television instant replay. “The batted ball … was mistakenly ruled in play rather than a home run,” he said, noting that video replay is not allowed in NCAA rules.

5 » Florida four-star 2012 point guard commit Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) competed in the NBPA Top 100 camp this past week and drew rave reviews from many of those who got a chance to watch him. Eric Bossi of Rivals.com wrote the following about him Sunday: “A natural scorer at heart, the future Florida Gator sacrificed some of his offense to run his team. He was effective in pick and roll, made good decisions and played much more under control than he had earlier in the spring.”

6 » Speaking with his hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, Ogbueze opened up a bit more about his decision to commit to the Gators. “I always believed you need to go where you are wanted the most,” he said. “To me, it felt like Florida wanted me the most. And you can never go wrong with whoever wants you the most. […] I thought playing under Billy Donovan would be a great fit for me because he was also a successful point guard at the highest level in the Big East at Providence. I think I can learn from him.”

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, LaPorta, Macklin, facilities

1 » Hobbled by migraine headaches throughout his life, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin believes that – finally – the nagging issue is behind him. “This is the best I’ve felt, probably, since I’ve been in kindergarten,” he told Ed Miller of The Virginian-Pilot. “I met a couple of doctors. There were a couple of things they found in my neck that I won’t get into – some things they found and fixed, along with diet and the rest of the things that can cause them. It’s been great, and knock on wood, it’ll continue.” Harvin, who had a scary episode during practice in Minnesota last year, has visited dozens of doctors and specialists and received even more explanations and treatments the migraines than he can count. He believes it has been five or six months since he last experienced one and hopes this streak continues permanently.

2 » Cleveland Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta, one of the best baseball players ever to wear a Florida Gators uniform, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the club on Saturday after he severely sprained his ankle on Friday while caught in a rundown. LaPorta is currently hitting .242 with eight homers and 31 RBI.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with Dime Magazine, Florida center Vernon Macklin touches on a number of topics including his workouts leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft, decision to transfer to the Gators, opinion of how he can succeed in the pros, and plans for draft day. Here are a few choice selections from the interview, which can be read in full right here.

Dime: Are you happy with the decision you made to come to Florida for two years after spending your first two at Georgetown?
VM: I’m pretty happy about it. I think Coach (Billy Donovan) took a great risk in taking me, transferring from a school and not playing as much. But I think I went in there and played hard for him for the two years. And I sat out a year, I learned a lot from him and a lot of guys. So I think it was a great fit.

Dime: How did it feel to make such a deep run in the NCAA Tournament?
VM: It was good. I’m happy we made the run. It’s been a while for Florida to be back and playing good basketball. So us making a run to the Elite Eight and being able to compete every single game in the tournament was great for us. It was also great for Coach Donovan and the whole program.

4 » Some more improvements are going to be made to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – both inside and out – in the next two-to-three years. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabble, Florida is looking to upgrade some of the Gators’ facilities in ways that will benefit both student-athletes and fans.

The board also approved a variety of renovation projects, some using $2.8 million in reserves and the rest using $15 million in bonds planned to be issued. Reserves will be spent on projects that include the resurfacing of the Percy Beard Track and the conversion of staff and JV locker rooms in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to football meeting rooms and a player lounge.

The bonds, which still must be approved by the Florida Board of Governors, would be spent on projects that include renovations to the gymnastics studio in the O’Connell Center and the baseball and softball stadium scoreboards. Renovations would be made to the west concourse of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium that include changes to concession stands and bathrooms, [athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Workouts intensify as draft nears

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Jet-setting across the country working out for nearly every team in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday while spending a rare day off in Denver, CO. After fitting in four workouts in a handful of days, including traveling to-and-from the northeast, he finally found an opportunity to rest while on the West Coast for a three-meeting swing. Parsons will end his scheduled workouts in Boston, MA on June 20 and will be checking in with us once more before the draft and one more time afterward.

We last spoke with Parsons the night before he met with the New Jersey Nets.

New Jersey went really well. It was the first time I got to workout against Kyle Singler from Duke. Also there was [head coach] Avery Johnson, their GM [Billy King] and basically their whole staff was there watching the workout. I shot well, played well and got really good feedback from them. I felt that they were really big on me.

It was pretty much the same as most of the workouts but there was a lot of drill work. They put us in their plays and sets and had us play out of them – coming off curls, coming off flares, playing one-on-one on different spots on the floor.

After that I went to Washington and that was really cool. Sam Cassel, the old Florida State guy [and now an assistant coach], ran that workout. Their coach was there, Flip Saunders, and that was another really good workout. I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein] today, and he said the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards right now – those three are showing a lot of interest.

I actually got to workout with Vernon Macklin that time and that guy Jeremy Tyler, who didn’t go to college and went straight to Japan. Also there were Malclom Lee from UCLA and Nolan Smith from Duke.

Vernon’s been doing good. I haven’t been working out with him much – he works out for different teams than I do for the most part – but I’m hearing he’s doing really well. I heard he did really well at Portsmouth [Invitational] and I heard he’s been doing good at the workouts. At the workout I did with him, he did really good. The guy he went against, Jeremy Tyler, is a projected first-round pick and Vernon did just as good as he did. He’s working really hard at it.

Those guys [including Alex Tyus] are continuing to help themselves. They’re playing hard, showing their athleticism and, going through this process, they’ve gotten a lot out of it and helped themselves for this draft.

After Washington I went over to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was tough. It was probably the hardest workout yet. Not just because of length, but they legit had me do running and conditioning, three suicides in two minutes. It was also a great workout. It was me, Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State, Klay Thompson from Washington State and Alec Burks from Colorado. It was top guys, first-round guys in the workout. Everyone was going hard. They did a drill at the end that before even the drill started, the coach pulled us aside and said, ‘This is a really tough drill.’

In the NBA there’s the defensive three seconds. So basically it’s a drill where there’s a coach on one wing, a coach on the top of the key and a player on the other wing. You’re sliding back-and-forth in the lane getting your feet in and your feet out. When the other coach on the wing slides, you have to step up outside the lane, stop him, and then he skips it to the guy and you have to close out and play one-on-one from there. You have to do that for all six of the guys you’re working out against. And that’s after an entire workout – a full-blown shooting, three-on-three, one-on-one and three suicides in two minutes. That was pretty tough.

I was exhausted – exhausted after that. I ate, interviewed and got on a plane to New York City. I flew into LaGuardia [Airport] to work out of the New York Knicks, but it’s not in MSG it’s at their practice facility, which is about an hour away. I got in around 8-9 p.m. and then had to wake up the next morning at 8 a.m. to workout for the Knicks.

The Knicks were awesome. Everybody was there – [head coach Mike] D’Antoni, [director of pro scouting] John Gabriel, [former team president now consultant] Donnie Walsh, [assistant general manager] Allan Houston – their entire staff. It was kind of a last-minute thing, but they wanted to really see me. So it was just me and three other guys. These workouts are tough with six guys, so you can imagine how it is with four guys.

I was going against Justin Harper from Richmond, who is also projected to go first round. It was two-on-two full court instead of three-on-three and a lot of one-on-one drills. Limited breaks because there were less people. It was good. Allan Houston called my agent afterward and said I was a lot more athletic than they thought, competed well and am in really good shape.

I flew out from there last night to Denver. The best part about this whole this is the unlimited room service. So I’ve been eating filet mignon, French onion soup and ahi tuna like it’s my job! I have off all day today, so I woke up with some pancakes, fruit, chocolate milk and went down to the hot tub and the steam room for a while.

Now me and E’Twaun Moore [of Purdue] are going up to the practice gym to get the shots up. I can finally relax and just kind of catch my wind, get the jet leg out of me before another big workout tomorrow.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome during this draft process?
PARSONS: “Every city, every team I work out for is a job interview. You got to go in there, and you got to prove people wrong. You only have one opportunity for a first impression, so I put all my chips on the table and I go into every workout working as hard as I can, showing these people what I can do. I want to show these teams I’ve gotten more athletic, stronger, that I can handle the ball. I want to show these teams what I can do and how I can help their system.”

Q: Growing up in the Orlando area, was it always your dream to play for the Magic or just to play professionally in the NBA?
PARSONS: “My dream has always been to play in the NBA, but my family has been season ticket holders since day one for the Magic. Looking at the draft and what the Magic have, they only have one pick which is the 53rd pick. Doubtful I’ll be around for the 53rd pick, so my chances of playing for the Magic are very slim. That would have been awesome, but no matter what city I go to I’ll be living my dream. I’ll eventually play in Orlando [on the road]. My family has been so supportive my whole career. I could go to Toronto and they’re going to be at a lot of games. It would be awesome to play in Orlando so I could have my friends and family see me play, but how supportive and how good my family’s been to me, no matter where I go, they’re going to be there.”

Go Gators,

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Young, Wilbekin hope to make USA U19 team

Set to compete in the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp from June 17-24 in Colorado Springs, CO, Florida Gators sophomores center Patric Young and freshman Scottie Wilbekin both hope to earn a spot on USA Basketball’s team for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship taking place in Latvia from June-July.

Speaking with the media on Monday, both players conveyed their excitement and how important making the team is to them.

“Guys definitely want to make this team,’’ Young said. “It’s cutthroat. Guys are coming out there and bringing out their A-game. Some guys have great defense, great offense, but it comes down to how great of a team player you are and what you can bring.’’

Wilbekin agreed. “I watch the Olympics every four years, just to get the opportunity to do something like this is really special to me,’’ he said.

Young also appreciates the opportunity he has been afforded to play for his country.

“There’s some national pride,’’ he said. “You go out there and everyone cheers for us because we are the United States. We have that ability to represent the United States at such a young age, it’s so great.’’

Not only will the duo be competing for a spot on the national team, they will be doing so in front of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who was hired as a court coach for the training camp. While that may seem like an advantage, Donovan will no doubt be tougher on them and expect even more from his players.

“It’s going to be a little bit of pressure on me to perform a little bit better,” Young said. “It’s encouraging that Coach Donovan is invited to come out there.”

To prepare for the camp and his sophomore season, Young said he has added 10 pounds of muscle (pushing him to 255) and has been concentrating on improving his overall offensive game. Wilbekin has been doing the same, focusing on making his shot more consistent and increasing an already impressive assist-to-turnover ratio.

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway and the University of Florida’s Scott Carter for the quotes in this post.

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