Evaluating Florida Gators G Michael Frazier II, F/C Chris Walker ahead of 2015 NBA Draft

A pair of Florida Gators basketball players will be sticking close to their televisions on Thursday as they hope to hear their names called during the two-round 2015 NBA Draft, which will emanate live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning at 7 p.m.

Whether either guard Michael Frazier II or forward/center Chris Walker actually get drafted is another story altogether.

While a total of 35 former Gators have been selected in the history of the event, Florida has only had one first-round pick (Bradley Beal, No. 3 overall, 2012) in the last six drafts after having five in a four-year span from 2005-08.

In fact, 2014 marked the first time since 2010 that UF did not have a player picked in the two-round draft, snapping a three-year streak.

Depending which analyst one speaks with, that drought could continue either continue for the Gators or end abruptly with Frazier and Walker both potentially being second-round selections on Thursday.

OnlyGators.com sat down with Ryan Blake, the NBA’s director of scouting, to get his evaluations of Frazier and Walker ahead of Thursday night’s event.

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4 BITS: Florida Gators to take on Oklahoma State in 2015 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic

1 » Florida Gators basketball was previously announced to be participating in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, but its opponent for the 2015 event was not announced until earlier this week. Florida will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second game of the event, which will be led off with a showdown between Florida State and Florida Atlantic. UF is 2-0 all-time against OSU with the schools not meeting since 2000. The Gators are 14-2 all-time in the event, which will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, on Dec. 19.

The rest of Florida’s announced 2015-16 nonconference slate includes a season opener against Navy in the 2015 Veterans Classic on Friday, Nov. 13 in Annapolis Maryland, and a spot in the 2015 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The latter event includes two home games (North Carolina A&T – Nov. 16, Vermont – Nov. 25) and two neutral-site contests (Saint Joseph’s – Nov. 21, Old Dominion/Purdue – Nov. 22). UF will also play at Miami in the second game of a home-and-home series, and it will host West Virginia on Jan. 30, 2016 in the third annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Reports out of Fort Myers have the Gators taking on FGCU on Nov. 27 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, and early offseason rumors noted that Florid and Michigan State were discussing a home-and-home series that could begin next season.

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Florida basketball officially adds F Justin Leon

Junior forward Justin Leon (Conway, AR) announced two weeks ago on Twitter that would join Florida Gators basketball for the 2015-16 season as a JUCO transfer who would be immediately eligible to play.

“After reviewing my options I have decided to go to Gainesville Florida and join the Gators,” wrote the left-handed shooter.

On Tuesday, the school officially announced that Leon (6-foot-8, 200 pounds) would join the program for next season.

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Reports: Florida basketball to host FGCU in ’15-16

Just weeks before the Florida Gators and Florida Gulf Coast Eagles squared off in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, few knew of the upstart program that dunked its way to the Sweet 16 only to go down 62-50 to the Gators.

FGCU, or “Dunk City” as they were affectionately known, is now a familiar name to college basketball fans, and its status has reportedly earned it a rematch with UF.

According to local media reports, the Gators will host the Eagles as part of their 2015-16 nonconference schedule, as first noted by Alligator Army. Florida will reportedly play FCU on Nov. 27 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville.

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2 BITS: Eagles see ‘improvement’ in Tim Tebow

1 » Reviews of his efforts in organized team activities have not been kind to former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, but don’t tell Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly that. “I have seen an improvement from Tim since the day we got him in terms of his knowledge of what we’re doing, understanding where everybody is,” Kelly told the Delaware County Daily Times. “There’s a whole process, and for him what we have done is different than what he’s done anywhere else. So in terms of learning our terminology and how we do things, I think each week you’ve seen an incremental bump in him, so we’re excited to see where that takes him, and it’ll be a good competition as we get into August.”

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Florida Gators in the 2015 NBA Finals: David Lee, Marreese Speights win rings with Warriors

For the fifth-straight season and seventh time since 2006, at least one former Florida Gators basketball player has ended the NBA season as a champion.

The Golden State Warriors knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-2 in the 2015 NBA Finals on Tuesday night, earning championship rings for former Gators forwards/centers David Lee and Marreese Speights.

Falling short of his third ring was guard/forward Mike Miller, who won back-to-back titles as a contributor with Miami in 2012 and 2013 but saw limited action in this year’s series.

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4 BITS: Jim McElwain donates $5,000 to bring Colorado State player home from New Zealand

1 » Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain put his money where his heart is, reportedly donating $5,000 to a former Colorado State football player in order to bring the man, his young daughter and his deceased wife home after all were stuck in New Zealand. According to Matt L. Stephens of The Coloradoan, former CSU defensive lineman Eli Edwards lost his wife to lupus while the family was in New Zealand so she could undergo treatment. Edwards was unable to afford to fly home after the treatments and started a crowdfunding account in order to raise money to cover the trip and funeral costs. McElwain’s donation, gifted from his private company MacFam LLC, makes up approximately one-quarter of the $20,000 raised to this point. Director of strength and conditioning Mike Kent, who joined McElwain when he took the Florida job, also reportedly donated $500.

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4 BITS: Florida Gators not pleased with O’Connell Center renovation cost projections, negotiating

1 » Florida Gators offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, whose career was deemed to be over after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis back in April, decided to get a second opinion on his condition in hopes of being able to build up his strength and return to the field. Unfortunately for Johnson, the second opinion he received was the same as the first – he needs to hang up his cleats. “[Spoke] with my family and trainers. [I] agree 100% with the professional doctors so Im making my decision on my own to walk away from this game,” he wrote Monday on his Twitter account. “I’m making this decision because I would hate for my mom to see me in a wheel chair. [Mom you’re] my blessing to start a new chapter.”

Johnson, who will remain at Florida on a medical hardship scholarship and is expected to remain with the Gators as a student coach, later added that he now feels like “all the pressure is off my shoulder[s].” Hopefully Johnson will be able to stay involved in the game off football and receive his degree, still allowing him to have a bright future despite this setback.

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