TWO BITS: SEC up for grabs, Wilbekin overseas

1 » No. 4 Florida Gators baseball will fight for the 2011 Southeastern Conference regular season title beginning on Thursday with a three-game home series against Kentucky. Florida (39-13) is tied atop the conference standings with the No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks (42-11) and No. 3 Vanderbilt Commodores (42-8); all three times sport a 20-7 SEC record heading into their respective final series of the year. UK (24-28, 7-20 SEC) is the “worst” opponent of the three; South Carolina plays at Alabama (31-22, 13-14 SEC), and Vanderbilt heads to Georgia (27-26, 15-12 SEC). Should there be a tie with two or three teams, the conference regular season title will be split. A tiebreaker will then be used to determine seeding for the 2011 SEC Tournament; the Gamecocks hold the advantage there with series wins against both the Gators and Commodores. Florida has possession of the second tiebreaker (if necessary) due to a series victory against Vanderbilt last week.

2 » The Gators basketball team may not be playing internationally over the summer like head coach Billy Donovan had hoped, but The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway reports that one of the team’s youngest players will be playing abroad over the next few months. Florida sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was selected as one of 10 Division I college basketball players to compete in Macedonia and Kosvo as a part of Athletes In Action, a Christian missionary group. The additional summer work will be good for Wilbekin, who hopes to earn even more time ion the court in a crowded backcourt next season. Brockway notes that the team Wilbekin will be playing for is coached by Tim Maloney, a former assistant to Donovan at UF from 1997-2003.

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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Preparing for the combine in Chicago

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.

In Chicago, IL preparing for the 2011 NBA Combine, Parsons got in touch with us on Monday to submit his first entry while relaxing at the suburban home of former Florida big man and Chicago Bulls starting center Joakim Noah.

Noah, who was relaxed and focused between games of the Eastern Conference Finals, is about an hour away from the city where Parsons will work out for all 30 NBA general managers from Wednesday until Saturday.

After I spoke to you on Monday, I spent the rest of the week continuing to workout in Los Angeles, CA, doing the same stuff and working on my conditioning. David Lee actually came out there and was working with all of us, and the trainer and I were just putting on some finishing touches and sharpening a few things up before I left.

I headed over to Oklahoma for my first workout, which went really well. The Oklahoma City Thunder invited 12 players to the Sunday workout and split us up into two groups of six. They held it at 9 a.m. on the day the team played game seven [of the Western Conference Semifinals].

Right when I got in there Saturday, there was a room in the hotel where a bunch of people who work in the front office for the Thunder interviewed me. [They asked] typical questions about my game, upbringing and childhood – basically every question you could imagine they were asking just to get to know me better. There were also a lot of questionnaires and surveys and a background check.

On Saturday night before the workout, the GM [Sam Presti] took me to dinner. There were 12 players there, and I was the only one to go to dinner, so that was pretty special.

Sunday was everything else including a psychological test and physical tests. They looked at my vertical [jump], height, [wingspan], the size of my hands and legs, did balance testing and a shuttle run. You do everything possible testing-wise and then you actually go on the court and do a hour workout with their player personnel staff.

The workout was at 9 a.m., and I had a flight already scheduled right out of there to Chicago. I ended up getting in around 10 p.m. on Sunday and just checked into my apartment. [Monday] morning, I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and started doing just everything I’m going to do at the combine this week.

I did spot-shooting at 18-feet and from three-point range, worked on catching and shooting on the move, and did four-spot one-dribble pull ups going each way. I also had a little conditioning and some ball handling drills mixed in to stay sharp. That lasted until 11:30 a.m. I grabbed lunch, came back at 3:30 p.m. and lifted with E’twaun Moore from Purdue, who is also with my agent [Mark Bartelstein].

All of my Chicago workouts are with my trainer Josh Oppenheimer and strength coach Ryan Thompson. I worked out with them in Chicago before I went to Los Angeles. Josh is a great guy; he’s really intense.

Over the next few days I will basically just be getting a lot of reps up – because you know exactly what they’re going to be doing at the combine. There’s nothing competitive this year. It’s just basically all shooting, two-on-one/three-on-two fast breaks and a whole interviewing process where every team there that is interested will interview you.

I will go through a whole bunch of tests, go to the hospital and get X-rays, ultrasounds and all sorts of tests to make sure my body is right and I don’t have any injuries. The next couple of days I will be rehearsing those things while keeping my conditioning, working on my all-around game and working on my shuttle run and vertical.

My agent has said that tons of teams are very interested in me, so I’m going to have anywhere from 12-16 workouts. I’ve already done Oklahoma City, I have the combine this week, and then I got invited to a group workout – the only group workout – in Minnesota. It’s where the top 24 prospects get invited and all 30 NBA GMs can come and watch you.

Go Gators,

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Chandler Parsons to guest blog for OGGOA

With the Florida Gators in the process of wrapping up their spring sports and a few months remaining until football season actually begins, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive is making a concerted effort to provide our readers as much additional content as possible over the next few sweltering summer months.

On Monday, 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and former Florida forward Chandler Parsons agreed to join OGGOA as a guest blogger through the 2011 NBA Draft set for June 23 at 7 p.m.

Parsons will check in with us each week to discuss what he is up to in his quest to become the first Gators basketball player to be drafted since teammate Nick Calathes was picked with the No. 45 overall pick in the second round in 2009.

Readers will be able to tag along as Parsons trains to improve his game, competes at the 2011 NBA Combine and meets with individual teams interested in selecting him in late June. Projections for Parsons have him being selected anywhere from the mid-teens in the first round to early in the second round of the draft.

Leaving Florida with a degree in telecommunications, he led the Gators in both rebounding and assists last season. Florida went on to capture the 2011 SEC regular season title and reached the Elite Eight in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

He finished his career as the 12th leading scorer in school history (1,452 points) and just the sixth with more than 500 career field goals. Upon playing his last game in March, Parsons was the only active player in Division I with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 125 steals for his career.

Parsons is the second former Gators player to guest blog for this website. He follows Danny Wuerffel, a national champion and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, who wrote five columns evaluating the football team in Sept. and Oct. 2010.

Keep a look out for his contributions exclusively here on OGGOA!

OGGOA RELATED: Exclusive interview with Chandler Parsons

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Florida releases salaries of basketball assistants

Having to hire an entire new coaching staff after all three of his former assistants departed early in the offseason, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan brought in two familiar faces and an established veteran in a relatively short period of time.

On Friday, Florida released the assistants’ salaries via records requests obtained by The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway and the Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2011 salaries:

2011 Coach2011 Salary2010 Coach2010 Salary
Billy Donovan
Head Coach
$3.3M
(3 years)
Billy Donovan
Head Coach
$3.2M
(4 years)
Norm Roberts
Assistant Coach
$235,000
(1 year)
Larry Shyatt
Assistant Coach
$250,000
(1 year)
John Pelphrey
Assistant Coach
$180,000
(1 year)
Rob Lanier
Assistant Coach
-
(1 year)
Matt McCall
Assistant Coach
$100,000
(1 year)
Richard Pitino
Assistant Coach
-
(1 year)

Pelphrey’s salary will help offset the $1.8 million Arkansas owes him for firing him with three years remaining on his head coaching contract. The school was set to pay him $600,000 annually for three years but will instead contribute just $420,000 per season.

Contract notes:
– All coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
– All coaches receive a car and other tangible incentives
– All coaches are eligible for performance-based bonuses

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FOUR BITS: softball falls, Horford, Jenkins, USA

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators softball (47-9, 21-7 SEC) was shocked Thursday as they were upset 6-2 by the Auburn Tigers (39-16, 15-13 SEC) in the first round of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament. The No. 2 seed going into the event, Florida fell behind 3-0 in the first inning before cutting the lead to 3-1 on a RBI single by senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, RBI) in the bottom of the fourth. No. 7-seed Auburn responded immediately, scoring three runs in the next frame to jump ahead 6-1 and hold on for the victory. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (17-2) got the start but was pulled after giving up three runs (one earned) in the first inning. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers came on for the final six innings and struck out three while similarly giving up three runs (one earned). UF committed three errors on the day.

2 » Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford, currently fighting to stay alive against the Chicago Bulls in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, was named to the All-NBA Third Team on Thursday. It is Horford’s first career All-NBA selection and the first ever for a former Gators basketball player.

3 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins has had a not guilty plea submitted by his attorney on his behalf for his most recent charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Attorney Huntley Johnson, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun about the plea, also said that Jenkins will likely transfer to either North Alabama or Valdosta State to play football next season. A report Wednesday stated that Jenkins to North Alabama was a done deal; however, it appears that Jenkins is at least still considering his options.

4 » Seventeen of the top young basketball players in the nation were invited to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship training camp held June 17-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Two of those 17 players selected Thursday are Gators freshman center Patric Young and 2011 signee guard Brad Beal; each accepted his respective invitation. Twelve of the 17 invitees will be picked for the team. Young and Beal each have a great chance of being selected at the end of the camp. “I know Patric and Brad are both excited about this invitation,” Florida head coach Billy Donovan said in a team-released statement. “It’s a unique opportunity for a player, so it’s an honor for them to be a part of this group.” The 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship will be held June 30 to July 10 in Latvia. The United States is in Group D with China, Egypt and Serbia.

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Parsons: “I’m trying to prove everybody wrong.”

Forward Chandler Parsons went through a lot in his four years playing for the Florida Gators. From finding early success to being locked out of the gym by head coach Billy Donovan to becoming the first basketball player school history to win the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award, Parsons reflects on his college career fondly but is equally excited looking ahead to his future playing in the NBA.

One of 54 players invited to the official 2011 NBA Combine in Chicago, IL from May 18-22, Parsons is currently in California working on refining his game and improving in any way he possibly can to get prepared for workouts, individual team meetings and the 2011 NBA Draft on June 23. After completing a rigorous day of workouts on Monday, Parsons sat down with OGGOA for an extensive interview about his future playing professionally and career in the orange and blue.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s start off by talking about what is going on for you now that the season is over and you are preparing for the draft. What have you been doing recently to get ready and how is it going?
CHANDLER PARSONS: “I’ve been in L.A. [since May 1] working out at 360 Health Club with Don MacClean, who’s the all-time leading scorer at UCLA. It’s me, Jon Leuer from Wisconsin and Malcom Thomas from San Diego State. And then there’s some pros like David Lee comes here [Tuesday]. Paul George with the Pacers has been working out with us. J.R. Giddens, who was at Kansas, transferred to New Mexico and got drafted by the Celtics, he’s been working with us. It’s been a combination of two-to-six guys every day just working really hard. We work out on the court for about an hour and a half and then you lift for about an hour with the guys and Steve Campbell who is the strength coach here. The facilities are beautiful. It’s right up in the valley in Woodland Hills in Los Angeles. It’s a really good setup and we’re just working on all aspects of our game – two-on-two, pick-and-roll, offense, defense. The main thing is just getting in shape, being in the best condition of your life going forward for these NBA workouts.”

AS: What specifically are you working on and trying to showcase at the combine? Has your post game been a specific focus?
CP: “I’ve been working off the ball, catching the ball at the post when I get a smaller three or two on me. I measured at 6’10 1/2” in shoes, so I’m going to have a lot of mismatches at the next level. I’m going to be able to take some guys down on the block. I’ve been working on my post game, my handle, being able to create and still facilitate just like I did at Florida. And then there’s the difference with the NBA three-point line, which I’m very comfortable shooting with, but it’s about getting a lot of reps up, same form, becoming more of a consistent three-point shooter from that distance.”

AS: What have you heard from your agent in regards to a projection for the draft?
CP: “When I first signed with my agent, who is Mark Bartelstein, he told me anywhere from mid-first round to early second round. Now, after this week of working out, my trainer Don MacLean told Mark, ‘I don’t know what kind of workouts you’re scheduling, but you need to start scheduling Chandler with teams with picks in the teens.’ He sees me going a lot higher than people are projecting me with how good I’ve been doing out here – anywhere from the teens to mid-first round to early second round.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Chandler Parsons…after the break!
Continue Reading » Parsons: “I’m trying to prove everybody wrong.”

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5/10: Donovan introduces his new assistants

Having now filled his depleted coaching staff following the departure of all three of his assistants, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to introduce new coaches John Pelphrey, Norm Roberts and Matt McCall. Below are some choice notes and quotes from the press conference and media availabilities.

BILLY DONOVAN

» Forwards sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Cody Larson remain indefinitely suspended from the team after being (at the time) arrested for third-degree burglary. “[I want] to wait to see what actually happens. There’s a lot of things they’ve got to go through. Them getting through this and finding out exactly what they’re being charged with and what’s going to happen. Once it happens, then me stepping in to react here, I’ll do. I’m disappointed with what’s happened. Once it gets resolved and once I find out what the resolution is, I can react from there.”

» Team manager Josh Adel was not involved in the activities as initially cited by police. “There was a perception that Josh Adel was ‘the lookout.’ That wasn’t the case.”

» Florida will not be going to another country to play as initially planned during the summer. Donovan said freshman center Patric Young and signee guard Brad Beal have invitations to tryout for USA Basketball in June and July. Additionally, signee forward Walter Pitchford has to go through the NCAA Clearinghouse, the legal situation has to be resolved and the July recruiting period is important.

» On the dedication of McCall: “You want to have guys that bleed orange and blue. [John] is a Gator. Matt McCall more so than anybody else out there [is a Gator]. The University of Florida really means something to him. When you look at great programs across the country, it is the pride that somebody has inside their program that really matters. For Matt being a young guy, he lives and breathes the profession, recruiting and what goes into it.”

JOHN PELPHREY

» On returning to Florida: “It’s a blessing to have a chance [to come back here]. He’s been such a big part of my life. My focus right now is on my faith, on my family and on my Florida. If I can focus on those things, then I have a chance to be at my best and be a part of a coaching team that has a chance to bring out the best in Billy and hopefully our players.”

» On Donovan bringing out the best in others: “Everybody understands how great a coach he is, how good at recruiting he is, but when you get a chance to be around him over an extended period of time, you understand he’s just a great human being. He’s hardworking. He’s a normal guy. He has no idea he’s a hall of fame coach. He does not know that and that’s pretty cool. In life, success changes people. It doesn’t for Billy. One season ends, he starts over evaluating, looking and trying to figure out a way to be better the next day. When you get a chance to spend time with him, you see it’s real, you see it’s genuine because that’s the way he is every single day.”

» On the unique opportunity to return to Gainesville, FL: “I don’t see myself having taken this opportunity anywhere else. You’re talking about a guy that there’s only one place in America that, after two and a half weeks, he would have gone back to work. I’m pretty fortunate. [Knocks on the table] You don’t have a job and then two and a half weeks later you get the only one you would take? I think it’s a miracle. I think the good lord had his hand on it.”

» On if this is a temporary job for him: “I was here before the renovations to the O’Dome. I was here before the practice facility was built. I was here before the first run to the national championship game. I’m a little bit invested. Any leader wants the guys in the organization to be invested. For me, this is not just another place. This is a special place. […] I knew this was right.”

NORM ROBERTS

» On why he chose the Gators: “There were three things that were really important to me about the next job I would take. I had opportunities to take some Division I jobs, but they were jobs I would say would not lead to much afterwards. I wanted to coach at a high level, recruit at a high level and, for my family, try to go somewhere where we would enjoy living. […] I wanted to work for a guy I really respected. Especially when you’re a head coach and you’re coming back in, that’s what you really want to do. I’ve respected what Coach Donovan has done for quite some time.”

» On why Donovan is such a good coach: “He is a tireless recruiter. He’s done a great job in recruiting and the different players that he’s recruited all over the country. The other thing Coach Donovan does that is paramount is he does a great job recruiting players. That player may have a specific skill set that he’s really good at. And then what he does is, he allows that player to play to his strengths and then encompasses that into the team as well as developing his weaknesses. That’s very unique.”

» On the players he will be coaching: “A lot of the guys I knew already [from recruiting], so it made it a little bit more comfortable.”

» On going from head coach to assistant: “Both me and Pel understand the business; this is a new opportunity for us, an exciting opportunity for us. The one thing you try to do in this business is build great relationships and have people respect what you do. We left both those places [St. John’s, Arkansas] in a lot better shape than they were when we got there.”

MATT McCALL

» On his responsibilities right now: “From a recruiting standpoint, Coach Pelphrey and Coach Roberts have really honed in on the 2012 guys. For me, I’m trying to cast a huge net out there for 2013 and 2014.”

» McCall said he has a lot of in-state connections and will help the other assistants recruit for 2012 while also looking ahead toward the future as it is important to develop relationships as young as possible.

» On what returning to UF means to him: “To be able to say ‘Matt McCall, assistant coach at the University of Florida’ is exciting. I bleed orange and blue, like Coach Donovan told you. I grew up here coming to games, always wanted to be a ball boy when I was little. This is the profession I chose. For me, it’s more than just the University of Florida. It’s Coach Donovan, one of the best coaches in the game.”

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Former Gators F Dan Werner offered plea deal

Arrested in the early morning on April 12 in Gainesville, FL for driving under the influence, former Florida Gators forward Dan Werner has been offered a plea deal by the State Attorney’s Office and is expected to accept it sooner than later.

According to First Coast News, Werner’s punishment would include one year of supervised probation, a six-month license suspension, $500 fine and 50 hours of community service. He must also take and pass a DUI education course and could have his charged reduced to reckless driving.

Werner, who played professional basketball last season for Virtus Bologna of Italian Serie A, was pulled over in a Silver Kia with a tail light out and its high beams on. He told the officer he was driving for his intoxicated girlfriend but failed field sobriety tests when administered. Werner also submitted to a breath test and blew below the legal limit (0.08) twice but was arrested anyway.

First Coast News obtained a video copy of the DUI arrest from the SAO in Gainesville:

The Gainesville Sun reported last month that Werner admitted to playing beer pong and “drinking at least two drinks containing whiskey” at some point during the evening.

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