Florida Gators win men’s 2011 Capital One Cup

The Florida Gators men’s athletic program won the first-ever Capital One Cup, as announced by the organization on Thursday.

“On behalf of the university, our student athletes and our fans, we are honored to accept the inaugural Capital One Cup trophy and $200,000 scholarship,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “Our goal is to strive for overall athletic success, and we’re extremely proud of our men’s program winning the Capital One Cup and our women’s program placing fourth. Thank you to Capital One and its affiliated companies for their support of intercollegiate athletics.”

Awarded annually to each of the top men’s and women’s Division I college athletic programs in the country, the winner of the Capital One cup is determined by a scoring system in which points are awarded sport-by-sport depending how respective teams finish NCAA Championships and the final official coaches’ polls.

Florida (93 points) won by an 11-point margin over Virginia (82) and finished 23 points above the next team from the Southeastern Conference, Auburn (70).

The Gators did not place in the top 10 in any fall sports but found much greater success in the winter and spring with the performances of indoor track & field (first), baseball (second), outdoor track & field (third) swimming & diving (fifth), tennis (ninth) and basketball (10th) earning them the honor.

The University of Florida’s women’s athletic program was the highest ranked in the SEC but came in No. 4 overall, 35 points behind the winner Stanford (121).

The men won UF a total of $200,000 to go toward student-athlete graduate-level scholarships. The Gators will be presented with the Capital One Cup at the 2011 ESPY Awards on July 13 at 9 p.m.

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SIX BITS: Beal, Benedict, Blakely, SEC, Walker

1 » Attending an offseason basketball camp put on by New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams, ESPN’s Andy Katz got another look at Florida Gators freshman guard Brad Beal and again came away impressed – but not because of his shooting.

Beal has been touted as a pure shooter, and he showcased a bit of that ability Saturday afternoon. But he was arguably most impressive off the ball. Beal crashed the glass from the weak side for a series of offensive rebounds and putbacks, using his 6-foot-7 wingspan (which is sort of crazy for a guy measured by camp staff at 6-foot-3.5) to rise to the rim and finish plays against taller defenders. Billy Donovan‘s team desperately needs a more consistent outside shooting presence. Beal should easily provide that. But he may also bring some bonus abilities to the floor, too.

2 » Former five-star recruit Brent Benedict, a redshirt freshman with the Georgia Bulldogs has been granted an unconditional release by the school, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This is news for Florida fans because Benedict was once highly recruited by the Gators and is said to be heavily considering transferring to the University of Florida. Though he is a talented player, Benedict is still recovering from a terrible knee injury he suffered during his senior year of high school. His knee was completely reconstructed, and Benedict also had to fight through nerve damage in order to return to the field. The AJC reports that “Benedict claimed in march to be ‘100 percent’ recovered from that injury and was medically cleared to play, but he continued to show effects … even in summer workouts.”

3 » Four-star running back Mike Blakely, who similarly received an unconditional release from Florida when he expressed his desire to transfer, may be eligible to play for the Auburn Tigers as soon as 2011 if the school gets its way. According to the Mobile Press-Register, Auburn compliance director Rich McGlynn has petitioned the NCAA to make Blakely eligible immediately due to the fact that he never suited up for the Gators after undergoing shoulder surgery in Gainesville, FL. “We have filed a wavier in an attempt to see if we can have Mike be immediately eligible and we’re in that process right now,” he told the paper.

4 » The Southeastern Conference has sent a proposal to the NCAA outlining significant changes it would like implemented in the recruiting process, according to CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer. In short form, some of the changes the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive are proposing include: (a) allowing text messaging between coaches and recruits, (b) earlier first off-campus contact, (c) no Twitter monitoring for who you can follow/be followed by, (d) coaches can receive phone calls from recruits, parents or coaches at any point, (e) eliminate “quiet” period and expand other three recruiting periods, (f) banning seven-on-seven camps and other “non-scholastic” events.

5 » With their 2011 recruiting class now in the fold and the 2012 class coming along nicely, the Gators have begun reaching out to 2013 prospects with the hopes of bringing them on board. Most notably, Florida is making a strong push for the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation according to Rivals, 6’9” 205-pound power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL). According to InsideTheGators.com, Walker has UF in his top five along with Baylor, Kentucky, Ohio State and Syracuse. Walker told ITG’s Tim Gould that Kentucky’s prowess for developing NBA talent interests him but that the Gators talk about him being a program-changer who can make a major impact on the court from day one. He is not planning on making a decision in the near future but could potentially be a huge get for Florida.

6 » UF’s loss in the 2011 College World Series Championship Series not only cost the school its third national championship of the 2010-11 season, it also put the state of Florida out a few dozen bucks. Governor Rick Scott made a bet with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley that the Gators would prevail in the event. Because Florida lost, Scott will send a key lime pie from Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe in Key West, FL to Haley. If UF had won, Scott would have received a barbecue dinner from Haley.

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Tyus will play professionally in Israel next year

Florida Gators forward Alex Tyus sat and watched the 2011 NBA Draft come and go without his name being called. It’s not that he expected to hear it but more so that the hope was alive that one of the league’s 30 teams would recognize what he brings to the table and keep him stateside for the start of his career.

With the NBA approaching a lockout and the desire to play professional basketball still motivating him, Tyus agreed to a contract with Maccabi Ashdod of the Israeli Loto League for next year.

Though playing in Israel will be new an adventure for Tyus, he has been learning many of the country’s traditions and practices due to the fact that he is currently in the process of converting to Judaism. (He will be done at the end of the summer.)

Tyus even watched the draft at Hillel just off of the University of Florida’s campus on University Avenue, inviting friends (Jewish and not) to join him for pizza and drinks.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Crowder, Beal, Young, Baker, Leak

1 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, considered by many (including OGGOA) to be one of the most outspoken and honest players in the NFL, has been given his own radio show on 560 WQAM in South Florida until the lockout has concluded. During his first show on Sunday, Crowder touched on a number of topics including his pregnant wife (he’s having a boy), offseason workouts and the realization that he is not a fan favorite. “I know people hate me,” Crowder said. “When people hate on you, you’ve got to be doing something right.” However, the most interesting he said Sunday afternoon relates to quarterback Terrelle Pryor and how he got in trouble at Ohio State. Though he tried to get around admitting it outright, Crowder insinuated that he sold his Florida Gators jerseys at some point during or after his time in Gainesville, FL. “I’ll say hypothetically I don’t have any of my Florida jerseys,” he said. “There were some Jacksonville businessmen who liked my play.”

2 » With the 2011 NBA Draft now in the books, ESPN’s Chad Ford has already released his top 100 for 2012 and two familiar names are at the top of his list. Gators five-star freshman guard Brad Beal comes in at No. 6 on Ford’s list, while sophomore center Patric Young ranks No. 11 out of all NBA Draft prospects who could be available a year from now. Though Beal has made no indications one way or another about his college plans, Young has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to stay three-to-four years and graduate before playing in the NBA. Speaking of Young, he competed with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team in an exhibition contest against Lithuania’s U20 team on Sunday, a game that his squad lost 101-72. Young played 25 minutes (third-most on the team) and went 2-for-7 with five points, six boards, an assist and a steal.

3 » Competing in what was basically a tryout during an exhibition game up in Canada, former Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker earned a roster spot with the Montreal Alouettes. Baker, who is ready to continue working hard now that he’s made the team, will play boundary receiver for one of the CFL’s best squads. “This means a lot, but I can’t stop working,” Baker told the Montreal Gazette. “I’ve been in this situation before, where I made the team and got cut.”

4 » On the other end of the spectrum, former Gators quarterback Chris Leak was cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders when their final dismissals were decided over the weekend. Leak, who spent a few years with Montreal, is on the radar of the Calgary Stampeders, which have already reached out to him.

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Pistons add Gators C Vernon Macklin with No. 52 overall pick in second round of 2011 NBA Draft

Round 2 – No. 52
Vernon Macklin, C
Detroit Pistons


Height: 6’10” – Weight: 240 lbs.
Age: 24 – Class: Redshirt Senior

Just 14 picks after the Florida Gators notched their first selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Orange and Blue received more good news when center Vernon Macklin was picked No. 52 overall in the second round by the Detroit Pistons.

Florida’s starter in the middle the last two seasons, Macklin continues the trend of Gators low post players tabbed to play at the next level.

He averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 2011 while shooting a much-improved 59.3 percent form the field.

Most notable about his performance last season was his improvement around the basket, especially with a nearly unstoppable hook shot. Scouts note that he needs to improve his aggressiveness in rebounding the basketball but has the size and intangibles necessary to succeed at the next level as long as he can continue to develop.

“[This is] By far the BEST feelin I ever had I’n my LIFE,” Macklin tweeted.

For the fourth time in school history, the University of Florida has had at least two players selected in the NBA Draft (1984, 2000, 2007).

OGGOA will update this story shortly. Stay tuned.

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Rockets select Gators F Chandler Parsons with No. 38 pick in second round of 2011 NBA Draft

Round 2 – No. 38
Chandler Parsons, F
Houston Rockets


Height: 6’10” – Weight: 215 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Senior

Waiting patiently at his home in Orlando, FL, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons learned late Thursday evening that he had been selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 38 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Parsons, the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, is the first Florida player to be selected in the NBA Draft since his former high school teammate, guard Nick Calathes, was picked No. 45 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 before being traded on draft day to the Dallas Mavericks.

Parsons averaged 11.3 points per game as a senior and led the Gators in both rebounding (7.8) and assists (3.7) last season. He shot 48 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from beyond the arc and 55.7 percent from the free throw line in 2011.

A team leader who excelled in team workouts over the last month, Parsons has the size, length and basketball IQ to succeed at the next level. He can defend, rebound and make plays both off the dribble against slower opponents and in the post against smaller ones.

Parsons is the 32nd player in school history to be selected in the NBA Draft.

6/22 – Entry VI: Crossing the finish line
6/15 – Entry V: Workouts intensify
6/8 – Entry IV: East Coast trip continues
6/1 – Entry III: Month of workouts begins
5/24 – Entry II: Workouts, interviews, tests
5/17 – Entry I: Preparing for the combine

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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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