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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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,

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Workouts continue on the East Coast

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 Tuesday while spending a rare day off in New Jersey. After working out for five teams in eight days, he finally found an opportunity to rest before wrapping up workouts on the east and heading out for a West Coast swing. Parsons will be all over the country from now until June 20 but will continue checking in with us each week.

We last spoke with Parsons the night before his workout with the Miami Heat.

The Miami workout went great. That was during the NBA Finals, but it was cool because [team president] Pat Riley was there. There were six people there – two wings, two guards and two bigs – and it was very competitive. We got to play a lot of three-on-three and two-on-two; it was the same thing as every other workout. We went for an hour to an hour-and-a-half doing different drills that tested our conditioning and ability. Like I’ve said before, now they just want to see you compete. They’ve seen me play for four years, so they really just want to see me get after it and get a chance to see me in person.

After a workout, you interview with the teams and they basically ask you the same kind of questions I got asked at the combine. Just about your upbringing, my game on- and off-the-court, and things like that. Pat Riley was right there on the court going through the drills with us. It was real cool that they’re going through a lot in the Finals but he still has time to go there and find someone he wants for the draft this year.

There was an article where a Miami reporter asked [Udonis] Haslem and Mike Miller about me. He got quotes from them about me in the draft and stuff, about how the Heat really like me.

“I asked how the workout went. They said it went well,” forward Mike Miller said. “I like Chandler, he brings a lot to the table, sort of a jack of all trades. Sort of like me, I guess.”

The Heat’s other former Gator also has a rooting interest.

“A very versatile kid, about 6-9, 6-10, can shoot it, can put it on the floor,” power forward Udonis Haslem said. “He can pretty much do it all.”

After that I went to Houston and Houston was by far the hardest workout. They basically put two hours on the clock and we ran it all the way down. It was non-stop competing. Full-court. A lot of running and shooting. Just basically staying active and competing for two-straight hours with limited breaks and limited teaching. It was very hot in the gym. It was two hours long, which is brutal. And all of the traveling catches up to you. It’s just tiring going at each other that hard for that long. It gave us a chance to show what kind of shape we were in, but that one was definitely tiring.

I’m mostly getting different match-ups [at each workout]. In Miami I had Carleton Scott from Notre Dame, and in Houston I had Jordan Hamilton from Texas. From Houston I went to Charlotte, which was a stacked workout. It was basically the top six small forwards in the draft. It was me, Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State, Chris Singleton from Florida State, Tobias Harris from Tennessee, Tyler Honeycutt from UCLA and Jordan Hamilton from Texas. That was a huge confidence builder for me, because that one I think was my best workout.

[Majority owner] Michael Jordan was right there and I’m joking with Michael Jordan and getting taught by Michael Jordan throughout the whole workout. You read about these guys and they get a lot of hype, and these guys have a lot of talent and they’re really good, but after going there and workout out against those guys I have confidence that I’m just as good as any small forward in this draft. This draft is wide open, and they had great things to say to my agent about me after that workout.

Charlotte was a blast – the best workout – played great and very confident. At one point during the workout I dunked, and [Jordan] looked at me and laughed, ‘White guys aren’t supposed to dunk.’ Literally like two plays after that, I caught a tip dunk and just kind of looked at him. Everybody started laughing; it was pretty funny.

Chicago was also a really good [workout]. What was tough about Chicago was it was literally the day after Charlotte. After my workout with Charlotte, I got on a plane, got in late to Chicago that night, woke up the next morning at 7 a.m. and have to play again for the Bulls, which are known traditionally for having a very tough workout. And it was very tough. I didn’t see Scottie Pippen this time [he did at the combine], but I saw [vice president] John Paxton, coach [Tom] Thibodeau and the GM [Gar Forman]. They had a lot of people there. That workout I went against Chris Wright from Dayton and David Lightly from Ohio State.

[Getting a day off] today is huge for me. It’s the first time I feel like I’ve been able to sleep in a long time. I got to sleep in, went to Subway and got a good, healthy meal and stayed off my feet. I went to the Nets practice facility a little bit ago just to get some shots up, nothing tough, just to shoot the ball and get used to the gym and their rim. It was nice to get my wind back and be able to relax for a day, not have to wake up early, go through the workouts. It was good to have an off-day.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Do you agree with the belief that it is not so much about how many shots a player makes during the workouts you are participating in but rather that the evaluators are looking at your form, shot motion and decision making? Is that actually the case?
PARSONS: “That’s 100 percent true, even in spot shooting and drills. Scouts and GMs have been watching me play for four years. They know I can shoot the ball, they know I can dribble the ball, they know I can pass the ball. They want to see me – in the workout and this setting – how physical I am, how tough I play, how aggressive I play. They want to see – if I have an open shot – if I’m smart enough to make the extra pass to get someone else a better look. They basically look at all of your tools. The ball going in the basket literally is the last thing they look at. They want a guy who can shoot the ball has great form and has a good shot. That’s not going to be a problem. They want someone who understands the game and who just competes every drill and doesn’t take a play off.”

Go Gators,

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , ,

 Page 143 of 221  « First  ... « 141  142  143  144  145 » ...  Last »