FOUR BITS: Tebow, Miller, Graham, Beal

1 » Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been added to the Gator Boosters, Inc. board of directors, according to the University of Florida. Tebow, on the board for a one-year stint, joins some notable Gators including Alex Brown, Lomas Brown, and his own father Bob Tebow on the 60-member board presided over President Bill Heavener and soon President-Elect Rex Farrior III. As explained on their website, Gator Boosters is dedicated to “educate our student-athletes” through scholarship funding and “constantly building, or improving our athletic facilities for Gator student-athltes to be given the opportunity to compete in the finest facilities.”

2 » Former Florida guard Mike Miller spoke with ESPN Radio‘s Ric Bucher immediately following his fantastic performance in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals on Thursday. You can listen to the interview by clicking here.

3 » Former Gators running back Earnest Graham has spent his entire NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Florida in 2004. But with just six weeks until training camp, Graham remains unsigned and told the News-Press that he is mentally prepared for retirement should a team not pick him up soon. “Right now, honestly, I’m going to focus on being a free agent, but I definitely understand that it is likely that I may have already played my last game,” he said. Unfortunately for Graham, he did not even get to complete the 2011 season as he tore his Achilles and only wound up seeing action in seven games. Though that is not the way he wants to go out, Graham said he has his health back and would be able to perform like he has been the last few years if given an opportunity. “I feel fine,” he said. “I’m running around well. If training camp started today, I’d be able to do it.” Graham has run for 2,047 yards and 15 touchdowns while also catching 129 passes for 904 yards and one additional score over his eight-year playing career. His standout season came in 2007 when he rushed for career-highs of 898 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 324 yards as the starting tailback for Tampa Bay.

4 » Gators freshman G Bradley Beal appeared on ROME on CBS Sports Network on Thursday to discuss the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft and his decision to leave Florida.

Zunino is Baseball America’s Player of the Year

Florida Gators junior catcher Mike Zunino received his second major national award in the last two weeks after being officially named Baseball America’s 2012 College Player of the Year and a first-team All-American on Friday.

Zunino, who also brought home the Dick Howser Trophy (considered to be the “Heisman Trophy” of collegiate baseball) on June 15 for the first time in school history, had an outstanding season for the Gators in which he batted .322 and led the team in homers (19), RBIs (67), sacrifice flies (11) and total bases (164). He also registered 53 runs and 31 walks while fielding his position at a .994 clip.

His combination of offensive production, quality defense, superb leadership and remarkable durability (he started all 66 of Florida’s games, including 62 at catcher) made Zunino the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, and it makes him the 2012 Baseball America College Player of the Year.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners, Zunino was the highest-drafted player in team history. He was also named to the All-SEC First Team for the second consecutive year and is a back-to-back finalist for the Johnny Bench Award (college baseball’s top catcher) as well as a finalist this season for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award (best amateur baseball player).

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner

FOUR BITS: Miller, Haslem win; Swamp; Young

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller and power forward Udonis Haslem celebrated mightily Thursday evening as their team, the Miami Heat, captured the 2012 NBA Championship with a 4-1 series victory over Oklahoma City. The title is Miller’s first but Haslem’s second as he was also a member of the Miami team that won the 2006 championship. It is the second-straight year that a former Florida player will receive an NBA ring as G Corey Brewer captured one during his short stay with Dallas in 2011. Haslem averaged approximately three points and five rebounds in 18 minutes per game in the Finals, while Miller saw much less court time in the series but had a fantastic Game 5 with 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from downtown.

2 » Following up on a BIT from early Thursday, which noted that Florida has the eighth-most players selected in the NBA Draft since 2002 and one-fifth of all Southeastern Conference players selected, is this chart from the Wall Street Journal, which notes that the Gators 10 NBA players played the sixth-most total minutes of any school in the league this year. Florida’s players totaled 12,652 NBA minutes this year, slightly less than Arizona’s representatives but far fewer than Duke (21,609), UCLA (18,029), Kentucky (17,159) and North Carolina (16,904).

3 » Pictures of Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium being under construction have made their rounds on Twitter over the last few days, most of which consisted of an empty playing surface that consisted of dirt and machinery. The Gators officially announced the construction project on Thursday, noting that a new playing surface will be installed consisting of Celebration Bermuda grass rather than Tifway 419 Bermuda, which is what was in The Swamp previously. “Every seven to 10 years you need to completely renovate a grass field,” said Chip Howard, Florida’s senior associate athletics director of internal affairs. “Over the years of resodding and painting, the ground gets contaminated and the crown of the field gets thrown off a little bit just because of overuse.” To that end, UF has removed the turf and 6-8 inches of topsoil but will instal the new grass in July so it is ready in time for the beginning of the football season.

4 » All Gators fans are understandably excited about the inaugural Navy/Marines Corps Classic featuring Florida basketball facing Georgetown on Nov. 9 in Jacksonville, FL. But junior center Patric Young, a Jacksonville native, is perhaps even more pumped for the game. “It’s very exciting and pretty cool,” Young told The Florida Times-Union. “Hopefully, they’ll make special jerseys for the game. I know they did in last year’s game. It’s an honor and a great opportunity that only select teams get to have. […] It definitely adds to my excitement that the game is in my hometown. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people while I’m there and having all my family there.” He is also excited about the potential opportunity to play in front of President Barack Obama should he choose to attend the game. “Normally, it doesn’t matter who is in the crowd,” Young said, “but when you are talking about the most powerful man in the free world, you think about that.”

Meet Florida basketball assistant Rashon Burno

For the first time since being announced as the Florida Gators new assistant basketball coach on April 12, Rashon Burno met with the media on Thursday to discuss what brought him to Florida and how he plans to fit in with the Gators.


A lifelong Northerner, Burno has spent most of his playing and coaching career in New York and Illinois. Though a move to Florida was undoubtedly a change of lifestyle for him and his family, he knew it was something he wanted from the moment he was offered an interview by head coach Billy Donovan. “I got on a plane with the intention of taking the job if offered. I was more nervous that I was not going to get an offer,” he said.

Burno got that offer and accepted the job immediately. He is already comfortable in Gainesville, FL but is being tested by two things in particular about the adjustment: the temperature and… “The most challenging part, obviously, is when you leave for your family,” he said, “but basketball-wise, you’re still doing the same thing. You’re still on the grind, still trying to evaluate talent. You may be looking at a little bit better talent than Manhattan, which is obviously an adjustment, but so far so good.”

Now that he’s adjusted, Burno expects the rest of his family to join him in approximately six weeks and knows that his children especially will love going to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. “They’re excited to because they’re of age where they know basketball,” he said. “I have twin boys who are age 11. They love basketball. They love Erving Walker. They thought he could do no wrong – small guy who could shoot it, offensive threat, they love that guy. At their age all they want to do is shoot, shoot, shoot. Not that Erv shot a lot. Not saying that. Not saying that. [Laughing] It’s good for those guys. They’re eager to get down here and make new friends and get in the community.”

He also has no expectation of being part of the seemingly endless rotation of Gators basketball assistants and expects to be wearing orange and blue for quite some time. “In this business I think, for me, I wanted to get with people who I respect. My prior relationship with Billy was built on mutual respect,” Burno said. “This is something that obviously I want to be a long-term fix or me. I’m not looking to go anywhere. I’m happy for the opportunity.”


As in many professions, moving up the ladder in the industry of college basketball is all about who you know. Luckily for Burno, a star player for St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, NJ under head coach Bob Hurley (a close friend of Donovan’s) and assistant under Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello (a friend and former assistant of Rick Pitino), he had the relationships and experience to get him his new gig.

“I think it goes back to working for a Pitino guy in Coach Masiello. You do a good job for someone in the family and the word travels. So I hope,” he said of how he got in touch with Donovan. “It was over a four-five year span of really picking [Donovan’s] brain about how to be a productive coach. I think that helped in the process because he got to know me off the floor. I think it paid dividends obviously with the opportunity to work for him.”

Though he did not know Donovan personally until a few years ago, Burno explained that he always admired his work from afar. “Just anybody that wins two national titles as a coach you’ve got to take your hat off to them and just respect what he does and what he stands for,” he said. “For me, from a coaching standpoint, he’s somebody that I looked up to and reached out to and was looking to build a relationship with.”

Burno added, “Just I think his offense was ahead of the game – pick and roll now you see pretty much throughout college basketball. I’m a big basketball fan so I was always a fan of his. It was just a matter of trying to build a relationship. […] It just so happened this thing comes full circle that I can work for a guy like that.”


One of Burno’s strong suits is his recruiting acumen and ability to relate to players. He described himself as “tenacious” in regards to bringing in players and explained that having a rough background can help relate to guys going through similar situations.

“I try to wear many hats because every kid is different. I try to adapt to a particular kid. But I’m just consistent with my message as far as talking to kids. Definitely one of aggression – just trying to make sure they understand where they stand with us,” he said. “You just try to use your own experience to try and help educate a kid on why this is a good opportunity for them. Having similar backgrounds with the kids I’m currently recruiting helps as well.”

One player Burno does not have to recruit is redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario, a fellow St. Anthony’s player who he will get to coach in his first year at Florida. Needless to say he is excited for the opportunity. “We are a fraternity. It’s really odd that I ended up coaching Mike his last year of college. I’ve known Mike for a long time and watched him for afar. He’s a talented kid. I think this is the first time in the history of St. Anthony’s that a former player is coaching [another] former player from St. Anthony’s,” he said.

FOUR BITS: Harvin, Lochte, McQuay, NBA Draft

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin spoke up Wednesday on Twitter to explain why he demanded a trade from the Minnesota Vikings. “Fans I said I have issues to be worked out money not at all being the problem,” he write. “I’ve [done] everything asked and more…me and [coach] have been speaking and are on the same page…theres nothing I can do.” If Harvin’s beef really is not about the money, it may be because he only played 58.4 percent of offensive snaps in 2011 and was rarely used in the team’s red zone package. A playmaker at heart, Harvin may feel he is not being provided with enough opportunities to help his team win and raise his stock in the final two years of his contract. It does sound as if Harvin’s “holdout” may only last one day, however, as head coach Leslie Frazier told KFAN radio that the player will be returning to practice on Thursday.

According to CBS Sports, Harvin has not been a model locker room player despite casting himself as the one being wronged here. Former WR Randy Moss served as Harvin’s mentor during his first few years in Minnesota and even suggested he get then-head coach Brad Childress fired. “Harvin, I’m told, for whatever reason, took that message to heart. Within a week after Moss was gone, Harvin and Childress got into an expletive-filled, heated exchange, started, I’m told, by Harvin,” writes Mike Freeman. “Several players had to pull the two men apart, fearing a physical encounter, and as they did, Harvin seconds later picked up a small weight and threw it at Childress.” That is now the second accusation of aggression against a coach on Harvin following his allegedly getting into an altercation with former Florida wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales.

2 » With the 2012 London Olympics just over a month away, ESPN has put together a huge feature on former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, who is one of the United States’ faces of the games and someone who will likely continue stacking gold medals at the event. Click here to read the extensive Ryan vs. Ryan feature after watching the two videos below of Lochte’s one-on-one interview from Gainesville, FL and him working out at Florida and being fine tuned by Gatorade.

3 » Gators junior sprinter Tony McQuay, who won three national titles this year and helped lead Florida men’s track & field to consecutive NCAA Championships in indoor and outdoor competition, has decided to forego his final year of eligibility and turn pro, according to The Independent Florida Alligator. “From freshman year to now, it has been a long journey,” McQuay said. “It’s been a great experience for me. To go out with a national title, to break school records and go down in history, especially since it’s my last year here, words can’t describe how I feel.” McQuay still plans to graduate and train in Gainesville but will sign with either Nike or Adidas rather than retain his amateur status. He is currently in Eugene, OR along with 16 other current and former Gators competing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials hoping to earn a spot on Team USA.

4 » Despite the fact that 117 different schools have had players selected in NBA Drafts since 2002, only 10 have had 10 or more players selected in that time. As researched by CBS Sports’s Matt Norlander, Florida is alone in eighth place with 11 players selected in the draft since 2002 only behind teams like Kansas and UCLA (15); Texas, Duke and Kentucky (14); and Connecticut and North Carolina (12). Memphis and Arizona each finished tied for ninth with 10 players picked in that timeframe. Also impressive is that the Gators have had more than one-fifth of Southeastern Conference players selected in that time as the league came in fourth with 53 players picked and was preceded by the ACC (70), Pac-12 (63) and Big East (63).

Donovan brings home gold for USA Basketball

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan won the first gold medal of his career on Wednesday as he led USA Basketball to an 81-56 victory over Brazil in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

The United States was the only team to go undefeated (5-0) on its way to taking home the gold. The Americans tore through the competition in Sao Sebastian, Brazil, winning every game by at least 19 and by an average of 38.6 points (105-42 vs. Virgin Islands, 110-59 vs. Mexico, 83-64 vs. Brazil, 107-72 vs. Argentina, 81-56 vs. Brazil).

The FIBA Americas was Donovan’s first go-around as head coach of Team USA. He was joined on the bench by Florida trainer Dave Werner as well as former Gators assistant and Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. Donovan had previously served as a court coach for team trials in 2011.

The strong showing in the tournament qualified the United States for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship next June. Donovan is not guaranteed to be the head coach of that team though he will likely be called upon again to continue leading the Americans.

SIX BITS: Beal, Olympics, Cup awards, Crawford

1 » Could Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal be the decided target of the Washington Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28? That appears to be the case after Washington completed a trade on Wednesday that sent a small forward Rashard Lewis and a second-round pick to New Orleans for SF Trevor Ariza and power forward/center Emeka Okafor. By adding two talented, starting-caliber frontcourt players, the chances that the Wizards would select a forward like Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Kansas’ Thomas Robinson (if he was even available) have been reduced significantly, meaning Beal could very well be the top player on their board with the draft just over a week away.

2 » Speaking of Beal, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla wrote Wednesday about what weakness Beal needs to improve on ($) in order to have a productive NBA career.

Beal’s screen-and-roll ability in Billy Donovan‘s screen-and-roll-oriented offense was average at best. Often when challenged by the screener’s defender (usually a big man), Beal was not able to take him on and beat him off the dribble. Ultimately, Beal shot just 35 percent in the screen-and-roll, and his overall points produced for himself or his teammates was a paltry 0.7 points per possession.

Part of the reason Beal struggled in the screen-and-roll is that he is a straight-line driver. I don’t doubt that he has been working hard on his ballhandling creativity. If he is going to be more than a one-dimensional jump-shooter, he’ll be handling the ball a lot, especially because the NBA’s 24-second shot clock demands it.

3 » The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track & field begin Friday in Eugene, OR with 17 total current and former Gators hoping to earn the opportunity to compete in the2012 London Olympics. Among those participating in the trials over the next 11 days are 10 current Florida student-athletes including: senior/junior Dwight Barbiasz (high jump), junior Omar Craddock (triple jump), junior/senior Jeff Demps (100-meter dash), freshman Marquis Dendy (long jump), freshman Dedric Dukes (200-meter dash), sophomore Ebony Eutsey (400-meter dash), sophomore Eddie Lovett (110-meter hurdles), sophomore Cory McGee (1,500-meter run), junior Tony McQuay (400-meter dash) and junior Jeremy Postin (hammer throw). Former Gators set to compete include: Hazel Clark (800-meter dash), Will Claye (long jump, triple jump), Kerron Clement (400-meter hurdles), Gray Horn (decathlon), Calvin Smith (400-meter dash), Wes Stockbarger (discus throw) and Christian Taylor (triple jump).

4 » The University of Florida athletic program finished No. 2 in the nation in the 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Twelve Florida programs finished among the top 10 of their respective sport nationally including women’s tennis (No. 1), men’s indoor track & field (No. 1), men’s outdoor track & field (No. 1), gymnastics (No. 2), lacrosse (No. 3), men’s basketball (No. 5), volleyball (No. 5), baseball (No. 7), men’s swimming & diving (No. 8), women’s indoor track & field (No. 9), men’s tennis (No. 9) and women’s swimming and diving (No. 10). It is the fourth-straight year that the Gators have finished in the top four of the Cup’s final rankings and second time in the last three years (2009-10). Florida has never won the Cup but has finished in the top 10 in each of the 29 years it has been awarded. Stanford won for the 18th time, outscoring UF 1448.25-1314.00 in the final standings. Only 20 sports count for each school toward their final total, but the Cardinal have 35 to choose from while the Gators currently support 21 total sports.

5 » With just a handful of game remaining in the 2012 College World Series, which Florida was eliminated from on Monday, the end of the athletic season is nearly here which means the final standings for the 2012 Capital One Cup will be official shortly. As of press time, the Gators lead the men’s standings with 89 points (baseball has not been counted yet). The only way that Florida can lose their top spot is if Arkansas (currently ranked 17th with 39 points) wins the entire CWS (adding 60 points to their total) and UF is ranked eighth or worse when the final poll. In that scenario, the Gators would finish second by one point (99-98).

6 » The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team announced Monday that Florida sophomore right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford has been selected to play for the squad this summer. Crawford is one of six Southeastern Conference players to earn placement on the team, which consists of freshmen and sophomores from some of the nation’s top programs. He finished the 2012 season with a final record of 6-2 along with a 3.13 ERA and the team’s first solo no-hitter for in 21 years.

WR Percy Harvin requests trade from Vikings

Just one day after publicly voicing his frustration while being a partial participant on the first day of his team’s mandatory minicamp, former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin has officially requested a trade from the Minnesota Vikings.

“I just put it this way, there’s a lot of different things that have to be sorted out,” Harvin said, according to the Associated Press. “Just haven’t been really happy lately. We’ve got a couple of things to work on. I’m here in the classroom. We’ll go from there. I don’t get into specifics. Just overall haven’t been really happy. But we here, hopefully we can get things worked out and go from there. We’ve got a lot of time between [now and the end of training camp], hopefully a lot of conversations. It’s just a couple different issues. It’s hard to try to tell you guys without telling you guys. I just keep it as that.”

Harvin only participated in the afternoon session of practice on Tuesday, which head coach Leslie Frazer told reporters was a planned occurrence because the team wanted to limit his actions two months removed from shoulder surgery. Frazier also said he was not concerned about being able to work through Harvin’s issues but that was before the former first-round draft pick officially requested a trade Wednesday morning.

Harvin is only set to earn $2.47 million in base salary over the final two seasons of his rookie contract despite being Minnesota’s clear No. 1 receiver. His trade request is likely at least partially a contract ploy; he would like more guaranteed money for his services and hopes to be paid fairly by the team for what he feels are his unmatched talents.

Despite dealing with numerous injuries including migraine headaches that had him rushed to the hospital during a practice in August of 2010, Harvin registered career-highs in receptions (87), yards (967) and total touchdowns (9) last season, numbers that were more than double than any other receiver on the team. He recorded all of those statistics while playing just 58 percent of the offensive snaps, another major issue he likely has with the coaching staff.

Though his trade request could speed up proceedings with the team as far as contract negotiations go, the Vikings are very unlikely to even consider trading Harvin this season. Minnesota could get the same trade value for him at the end of the season and would essentially be giving up one of the team’s best offensive playmakers for draft picks that would not see the field until the 2013 season.

Working against Harvin, of course, is his vast injury history including migraines that have been mitigated or supposedly eliminated in the past only to mysteriously and severely pop up at inopportune times. The Vikings may not feel comfortable investing No. 1 receiver money in Harvin, in which case the team may not give him a new deal, call his bluff when it comes to sitting out training camp and getting fined, force him to play the 2012 season under his current contract and trade him in the offseason to a team that believes in his talent and long-term health and is willing to give him a big extension. Minnesota could also keep him for two years and place the franchise tag on him in 2014.

Either way the situation between Harvin and Minnesota is a long way from finding a conclusion, and it may not be a happy ending for both parties.

UPDATE: As expected, general manager Rick Spielman said on Wednesday that the team has absolutely no intention of trading Harvin. “We have no interest at all in trading Percy Harvin,” he said. “He’s a key part of our organization. He’s a key part of our football team. […] Percy is a very good person. We’ll get all the issues resolved. […] He’s a vital part to us moving forward with this team. He’s a young, very talented player.”

Photo Credit: Unknown

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