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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FOUR BITS: Whitson, Calipari, Pittman, Schintzius

1 » The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Monday announced that Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson has been named a first-team Freshman All-American. One of 16 standouts to earn the distinction, Whitson is also in line for the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday. With an 8-0 record, 2.45 ERA and 83 strikeouts on the season, he the only player on the first team representing the Southeastern Conference.

2 » Remember when the Kentucky Wildcats and head basketball coach John Calipari defeated Florida in Lexington, KY and the school held a mini 500th victory celebration? Well, according to the NCAA, that should never have happened, and the organization is now taking steps to ensure that Kentucky does what they can to make that information public. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari’s 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK’s statement “must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release.”

Because the NCAA forced Massachusetts and Memphis to vacate a total of 42 victories achieved under Calipari due to a variety of transgressions, the governing body insists that his victory total was only 458 on that day and now stands at 467 for his career. For more on the matter, click here.

3 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun after a recent visit to Gainesville, FL for a football camp, Gators four-star 2012 wide receiver commit LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) discussed his experience. “It felt great just getting out there, getting a feel for Coach [Aubrey] Hill, how he coaches and how he sees me,” he said. “As far as hands-on and doing drills, that was the first time I really got to see how he would coach me.” Pittman, Florida’s first commit of the 2012 cycle, plans to return for Friday Night Lights.

4 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators C Dwayne Schintzius made his first major public appearance during a Florida basketball game on Feb. 24 and was in great spirits. Last week he attended a fundraiser for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission with the belief that he would be supporting his father, Ken, who was going to be handed an award from the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s alumni association. Schintzius was instead surprised to learn that he was being honored with a special award for courage. “He wouldn’t have wanted to come to the dinner but after I told him the award was for me, he said he’d come,” Ken told Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune. “It worked. We got him. We played it right to the hilt.” Though he has been praised extensively for his strength in fighting his disease, Schintzius wanted the praise to go where it belongs. “People are giving me an award, I guess, for fighting for my life,” he said. “I don’t deserve the award. The people at Moffitt [Cancer Center] are the ones who are the true heroes. They saved my life.” Click here to read more about Schintzius’s battle and the events of the night.

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TWO BITS: Brewer wins, track & field falls

1 » Former Florida Gators guard/forward Corey Brewer celebrated mightily Sunday evening as his team, the Dallas Mavericks, captured the 2011 NBA Championship with a 4-2 series win over the Miami Heat. Out partying until all hours of the night, Brewer tweeted around 2 a.m.: “Yeah we are the champs its all said and done and yes to all the haters I can say it I’m a world champion.” He then brought it all together, reminiscing about his days at Florida. “We coming back to dallas with the chip,” he said, “be ready dallas let’s go mavs I love winning 2 national championships now a world.” Brewer, who was signed as a free agent after he was cut by the New York Knicks in a trade at the deadline, has not played a minute of basketball since May 17. He participated in six total playoff games, averaging 3:47 of action in those contests, after many thought he would be a key defender in Dallas’ postseason run.

2 » Faced with the opportunity to capture the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championship on Saturday, the men’s track and field team wound up finishing third in the event after blowing a chance to win the title in the final portion of the meet. Having already lost out on a 100-meter title when junior sprinter Jeff Demps cramped up and failed to qualify for the final heat, the Gators did not finish the 4×100-meter relay and only won a single individual title when junior Christian Taylor defeated fellow junior teammate Will Claye for the triple jump championship with a distance of 17.80m/58-4.75 (+2.3). It all came down to the 4×400-meter relay; if Florida finished in the top-four places in the event, the Gators would take home the title. Instead Florida came in sixth and never had a legitimate shot at winning the race, finishing with 53 points and handing the title over to Texas A&M (55), which stood just in front of Florida State (54).

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