FOUR BITS: Larson, Pryor, Leak, Demps, lax

1 » Florida Gators redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson has officially entered a not guilty plea on reduced charges of misdemeanor criminal trespassing. The Gainesville Sun reports that junior F Erik Murphy, the other player cited in the incident, has yet to enter a plea. Both men, along with student manager Josh Adel were arrested on felony burglary charges in April after they were caught allegedly forcing their way into a vehicle. Charges against Adel (for accessory to burglary) were thrown out; those for Larson and Murphy were reduced to misdemeanors.

2 » With former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor leaving his school in the dust, his next career move becomes just as (if not more) interesting as that of former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Pryor has similar options to Jenkins but has seemingly decided to leave college altogether. Though he could enter the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft in July, it is looking more and more like he will play professionally in another league in 2011 with the CFL (Canadian Football League) and UFL (United Football League) leading the charge for his services. The Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, according to the Associated Press, own Pryor’s negotiation rights within the league and could bring him aboard if he chooses to enter their league. Theoretically, that could spell doom for former Gators QB Chris Leak, who signed with the team as a free agent on May 5 and is fighting for the No. 2 job on the team. UPDATE: Pryor’s attorney said Thursday that he will not entertain offers from the CFL.

3 » Florida senior running back Jeff Demps, widely considered the fastest man in college football and one of the fastest overall in the entire country, failed to qualify for the finals of the 100-meter dash at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday. Demps turned in a 14th place performance of 10.40 seconds. He won the title last year with a time of 9.96 seconds.

4 » After another stellar season in which they were continuously ranked in the top five teams in the country, beat what ended up becoming the 2011 NCAA Champions and had a chance to qualify for the national championship game, Gators lacrosse was awarded the No. 5 ranking in the final standings released by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. No. 5 is the highest a second-year program has ever been slotted to end the season, just another in a long list of accomplishments for the young Florida team and head coach Amanda O’Leary.

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Donovan new court coach for USA Basketball

USA Basketball announced Wednesday that Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has been selected as a court coach for the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp from June 17-24 in Colorado Spring, CO.

“I’m excited to work with this group of talented players from all over the country, including a couple of Gators,” Donovan said in an official release from the school. “USA Basketball has done a great job assembling this team, and I look forward to contributing to their preparations for the U19 World Championship.”

Donovan will join Jerry Carrillo (Cochise County College) and Dan Miles (Oregon Tech), who are taking on the same role, in coaching up the 21 players competing for a spot on the 12-man national team that will participate in June and July at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia.

Florida sophomores center Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin are two of the 21 players trying out; the former is favored to earn a spot on the team, while the latter will likely have to work hard to crack the roster.

Gators five-star 2011 signee guard Brad Beal was originally scheduled to compete in the training camp but withdrew in order to get assimilated with college life.

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TWO BITS: Werner DUI dropped, recruits drafted

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Dan Werner, arrested by Gainesville police on April 12 for driving under the influence, had his case dismissed by the State Attorney’s Office. Werner passed two breath tests, blowing below the legal limit of 0.08 twice, but officers on site said he failed field sobriety tests and arrested him on site. After reviewing video of Werner’s tests, available here courtesy of First Coast News, state attorneys determined there was not enough evidence to pursue the case further. “The case was dropped due to insufficient evidence to sustain conviction,” SAO spokesman Spencer Mann told FCN. “The video doesn’t support what we believe could sustain a conviction. We think he did pretty well on the field sobriety test.” Werner was initially pulled over while driving his girlfriend’s car, which had a tail light out and its high beams on.

2 » Though no Gators were selected Monday in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, two of Florida’s signees were chosen in the compensation round. Right-handed pitcher Michael Kelly (Boca Raton, FL) was picked No. 48 overall by the San Diego Padres, and RHP Hudson Boyd (Fort Myers, FL) went No. 55 to the Minnesota Twins. It is unknown if either will sign with their respective MLB club, though selections that high in the draft are often offered a significant sum of money to skip college for minor league and – hopefully eventually – major league ball.

In addition to the UF’s other signees, 12 Gators are currently eligible to be drafted. Junior pitchers Nick Maronde and Anthony DeSclafani – and junior right fielder Preston Tucker – should be selected the highest out of the remaining pool. Other Florida players who could be picked include seniors second baseman Josh Adams and center fielder Bryson Smith and juniors RHP Matt Campbell, RHP Greg Larson, left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis, RHP Justin Poovey, RHP Tommy Toledo and left fielder Tyler Thompson.

Below is a video of Kelly courtesy of MLB.com:

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Wilbekin, Harvey, Zunino

1 » Florida Gators five-star guard signee Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) withdrew from the training camp for the 2011 USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team, the organization announced on Monday. Beal, along with sophomore center Patric Young, was previously planning on trying out for the team that will represent the USA at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia. Instead he has decided to get acclimated with college life in Gainesville, FL. “I just wanted to go to school so I could get used to campus, get used to being in college,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. Beal’s departure from the camp comes at the same time that sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was given an invitation to join it; he will do so on June 17 alongside Young.

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told his team’s website over the weekend that he is very discouraged with the progress of their first-round selection from the 2008 NFL Draft, No. 8 overall pick defensive end Derrick Harvey. “He’s still young,” Smith said. “He was a high draft choice and he has had a lot of starts for us. He’s still young. You hope at some point he’s going to be able to make a move. He did not make that last year during the season. We had some guys earn the opportunity to play over him.” Harvey has been properly labeled a “bust” up until this point and only notched 2.5 sacks in 2010 as a backup.

3 » Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino has been named one of three finalists for the 2011 Johnny Bench Award, given annually to college baseball’s top catcher. It is voted on by a panel consisting of media members, coaches and professional scouts and announced during the College World Series. Zunino is hitting .371 on the season with 16 home runs, 62 RBI, 86 hits, 68 runs scored, 28 walks and 155 total bases. He is also slugging .668, gets on base at a .442 rate and is fielding his position at a .996 clip.

4 » Trying to make some money on Florida football’s off-the-field problems, BetUS has placed odds on whether or not legal issues will arise for the Gators this year. The two lines available to wager on – total team arrests in 2011 (10/13 odds for Over 2, 10/11 odds for Under 2) and the severity of the next arrest (5/9 misdemeanor, 7/5 felony) – are just some of the interesting prop bets available on the site. As pointed out by the Sentinel’s Rachel George, you can also wager on which school will be the next to commit a NCAA violation and which sport that violation will be attributed to (among others).

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ABC: Mike Miller’s Greatest Gift (Video)

Ending what was undoubtedly a stressful episode for the family, Miami Heat and former Florida Gators guard/forward Mike Miller and his wife Jennifer were able to bring their newborn daughter, Jaelyn, home from a South Florida hospital last Saturday.

Jaylen had spent just under two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit because doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. Even with Jaylen on his mind, Miller has been playing a big role for Miami, which is up 2-1 in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

In an interesting twist to the story, Miller and his wife actually donated $1 million to a children’s hospital in his South Dakota hometown in 2007. There is a wing of the hospital called the Mike and Jennifer Miller Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. ABC told this story in a piece that ran at halftime of Sunday night’s game.

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Gators return to Florida Citrus Sports Shootout

Florida Gators men’s basketball has agreed to participate in its fourth event of the 2011-12 season, announcing Thursday that they will face the Stetson Hatters in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL

It will be the second-straight season the Gators will be playing in the game; Florida lost to Central Florida 57-54 last year.

UF will begin next season by participating in the five-team Global Sports Shootout along with Ohio State, North Florida, Jackson State and Wright State. The event is a collection of games played at different arenas. Florida will face Ohio State on the road, Wright State at a neutral site (Tampa, FL) and both North Florida and Jackson State at home in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators will square-off against Syracuse in Syracuse, NY as part of the 2011 BIG EAST/SEC Challenge on Dec. 2 and are also set to participate in the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL on Dec. 17.

TBD – vs. North Florida – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
TBD – vs. Jackson State – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
Nov. 15 – at Ohio State – Global Sports Shootout (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 21 – vs. Wright State – Global Sports Shootout (Tampa, FL)
Nov. 28 – vs. Stetson – Florida Citrus Sports Shootout (Orlando, FL)
Dec. 2 – at Syracuse – BIG EAST/SEC Challenge (Syracuse, NY)
Dec. 17 – vs. TBD – Orange Bowl Basketball Classic (Sunrise, FL)

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FOUR BITS: Boynton, Hill, Collinsworth, Crowder

1 » Florida Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton has always viewed himself as a scorer, someone who was able to do everything in the high school and has liked to put the ball in from long range in college. The truth, at least as head coach Billy Donovan sees it, is that Boynton’s best characteristic right now is his defense. Boynton was a lock-down defender in 2011, forcing some of the best college basketball players in the country to struggle against Florida in big games. Going forward, his defense (especially if his offense does not improve) could be what gets him onto a NBA bench.

“He has the ability to be the best defensive player in our league, no question,” Donovan said Wednesday at the 2011 SEC Spring Meetings. “And I’m not saying his role’s going to change just to be a defender, but when you talk about him really leading us in scoring and then the fact that he’s got to guard John Jenkins twice a year, he’s guarding Jimmer Fredette, he’s guarding [Scottie] Hopson from Tennessee, he’s guarding Brandon Knight. […] If there’s one thing about Kenny that I think he’s right now is I think he’s an NBA defender. He can really guard anybody on the perimeter. I think the next step for him is decision making, assist-to-turnover ratio, being a better finisher in the lane, those kinds of things. But I think he’s working to get better.”

2 » Former Gators safety Will Hill, who declared for the 2011 NFL Draft as a junior and was not selected during the seven-round event in April, was arrested Thursday by Alachua County Police and booked at 2 p.m. on an out-of-county warrant stemming from having been cited for driving with a suspended license in Lake County. Hill had his bond set at $2,000 for the misdemeanor charge.

3 » Former Florida wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, who played in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and is currently a color commentator for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, has been looking for something to keep him busy while the league’s lockout remains in effect. With that in mind, Collinsworth has decided to coach the wide receivers at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, KY, where his son Jac is currently playing. Highlands has won four consecutive titles (including a 50-0 victory last year) and went 14-1 in 2010. “I just got the playbook and I feel like a first year rookie all over again,” he said on his FootballProsLive.com blog. “The plays are scrambled eggs in my brain, and I feel a little anxious. But, I love coaching. I coached many of these kids in the junior football league, and they always kept me entertained.”

4 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder spoke with the media recently and provided his thoughts on a number of topics concerning the current NFL lockout. Crowder, who in our opinion provides the best sound bites and quotes in sports, even comments on Raw Lewis’s opinion that crime would increase nationally if football isn’t played. You can check out Crowder’s comments in this piece from the Sun-Sentinel.

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Men’s basketball says SEC-ya to divisions

Southeastern Conference men’s basketball coaches recommended to athletic directors and university presidents on Wednesday at the 2011 SEC Spring Meetings that the conference scrap the current East-West division model for their sport and institute a 12-team, single-league format going forward. Wednesday evening the athletic directors agreed, and the changes will take place beginning in the 2011-12 season.

“It’s done,” Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley told ESPN’s Andy Katz after the meetings concluded for the day. “The presidents don’t have to sign off on this. This is an AD decision. We will be one league effective next year.”

Under the new alignment, the SEC Tournament will be seeded 1-12 based on conference record. No longer will the top two teams in each division (regardless of record) receive byes; the advantage will instead be given to the four best teams overall.

The SEC also plans to adjust the schedule, though it is unknown exactly what changes will be made. There are options for 16-game (currently used), 18-game and 22-game conference schedules on the table that will be discussed at a later date.

SEC teams currently take on opponents in their own division twice (home/away) and teams in the other division once (site determined by rotation). An 18-game schedule would have teams facing their traditional division rivals twice, two “other division” teams twice and four “other division” teams once, while a 22-game schedule would allow every team to square off twice during the regular season.

Because the schedule for the 2011-12 season is already set, no changes will be made until 2012-13 at the earliest. Tournament seedings will be handled by the new rules.

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari said Tuesday that one of the main goals in making these adjustments is to help more SEC teams earn NCAA Tournament berths going forward. The conference believes that the new alignment will help it appear stronger as a whole nationally; no longer will there be one dominant division that makes the other look inferior by comparison.

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