DE/LB Chris Martin to transfer out of Florida

Redshirt freshman defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin played what he termed an “early April Fools” joke back in March, claiming that he had been dismissed from the Florida Gators. The University of Florida was not joking Friday evening when it announced that Martin, a former five-star recruit who transferred to Florida from California a year ago, has decided to transfer once again.

“Chris and his family have indicated that it might be best for him to be closer to home,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We wish him nothing but the best of luck.”

Having never suited up for the Gators, Martin will leave the program without making any notable mark other than having been arrested on Jan. 29 for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The Gainesville Police Department cited Martin for possession of less than two grams after detecting “the scent of the drug coming from [his] vehicle.” He was offered and accepted deferred prosecution by the state.

Martin, who was the best defender in practice last season according to his UF teammates, will be forced to sit out yet another season due to NCAA transfer rules unless he moves to a Division-II program. He was expected to see ample time on the field in 2011.

ESPN.com reports that Martin “had multiple off-the-field issues that played a part in his decision,” according to a source close to the situation.

He will be the fifth Florida player to leave the program since Muschamp arrived. Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from the team following two marijuana arrests in less than 90 days and redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, freshman WR Javares McRoy and freshman running back Mike Blakely all decided to transfer for various reasons.

Gators fight to top Commodores 6-4, advance to College World Series Championship Series

The No. 2 Florida Gators and No. 6 Vanderbilt Commodores were evenly matched all season long. Though Florida held the head-to-head wins advantage, Vanderbilt made them fight for each of them and did the same on Friday, turning a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 tie before the Gators (53-17) pulled away from the Commodores (54-12) and advanced to the 2011 College World Series Championship Series with a 6-4 victory after more than three hours at TD Ameritrade Park.

Florida beat Vanderbilt five of the six times that the two (of three) Southeastern Conference champions squared off in 2011 including twice in the CWS and thrice overall during the postseason. The Gators advanced to the school’s second-ever championship series, having last played for the national title in 2005.

After getting the first two outs of the game, Florida junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis allowed Vanderbilt first baseman Aaron Westlake to power a homer to right to put the Commodores ahead a run early in the game.

The Gators stranded two in the bottom of the second, and VU did the same in the top of the third, helping Panteliodis get out of a jam. UF freshman third baseman Cody Dent helped take some weight off his shoulders in the bottom of the inning, smacking a lead-off, stand-up triple to right-center.

Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana walked to put runners on the corners, and junior 1B Preston Tucker dribbled a ball down the first base line to score Dent from third even though he was tagged out.

Florida took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with a small rally. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-3, R, BB) and junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (1-4, R) hit one-out singles to left, and Dent was walked to load the bases. Fontana, stuck in a 0-17 hitting slide, hopped the ball up the middle to score two, giving the Gators a 3-1 lead.

Sophomore right fielder Daniel Pigott kept the momentum going in the sixth, starting the inning off for Florida with a double. The bases were then loaded with no outs after Dent was walked and Fontana had a bunt bobbled; a subsequent 6-4-3 double play scored Pigott from third and put the Gators up 4-1 through six.

Before the seventh could begin, Panteliodis (6.0 IP, ER, 3 H, HBP, 3 K) was replaced by junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Toledo. Panteliodis concluded his outing by retiring the last eight batters he faced and 11 of the final 12 Commodores who stepped to the plate. He also had three 1-2-3 innings on the afternoon including the fifth and sixth.

Toledo (0.2 IP, 2 ER, 3 H) stepped in and allowed one-out and two-out singles to put runners on the corners before a single to left reduced Vanderbilt’s deficit to 4-2. With two down and runners on first and second, he was replaced by junior LHP Nick Maronde, who walked consecutive batters to load the bases and let another run cross the plate. Stuck in a pickle with the bases loaded, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan went to the bullpen again and brought out junior RHP Greg Larson, who immediately forced a fly out to right to end the inning.

Florida went down in order in the bottom of the inning, and O’Sullivan went to the bullpen again, bringing in sophomore LHP Steven Rodriguez. After striking out Westlake, Rodriguez gave up a single to center and a chopper up the middle to put the tying run on second and the potential winning run on first.

Trying to stop the bleeding, O’Sullivan made yet another pitching change and called upon sophomore RHP Austin Maddox, who had not pitched since May 29 after injuring his foot. Commodores third baseman Jason Esposito legged out an infield single to short to load the bases, and Maddox hit the following batter on the foot to keep the bases loaded and tie the game up 4-4.

Fontana saved more runs from scoring by diving to his left to grab a liner for the second out of the inning, and a ground out just one batter later stopped the bleeding.

The Gators got things going again in the eighth. Pigott (2-4, 2 R) led off with a single, and Florida loaded the bases on picture perfect bunts from Dent and Fontana (2-3, 2 RBI, BB) – both down the third-base line. At that point, Vanderbilt decided to pull starter Sonny Gray (12-4, 7.0 IP, 5 ER, 12 H, 5 BB, 8 K) and dip into their bullpen.

Senior center fielder Bryson Smith (1-5) popped out, but Tucker (1-5, 2 RBI) followed by hitting a floater to deep left, scoring one and keeping the bases loaded. The next batter, sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (1-5), went down on strikes, but a wild pitch strike three allowed Dent (2-2, 2 R, 2 BB) to steal home, giving the Gators a 6-4 lead and continuing the inning.

Maddox returned for the final three outs of the ballgame and got the first two batters out before allowing Westlake to double to right-center, putting the game-tying run at the plate. However, just a few pitches and a fly out later, Maddox (3-0, 1.2 IP, 2 H) clinched the championship series berth for Florida.

UF will face either No. 1 Virginia or No. 4 South Carolina in the College World Series Championship Series beginning Monday at 8 p.m. Game two is set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. and game three (if necessary) for Wednesday at 8 p.m. All three contests will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com with full coverage here on OGGOA.

2011 College World Series: Florida vs. Vanderbilt II

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – College World Series
Location: TD Ameritrade Park – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 24,505]
Time: 2:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (6) VANDY COMMODORES
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Tim Corbin
Record: 52-17 Record: 54-11
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

PROJECTED STARTERS

Florida: Junior LHP Alex Panteliodis (6-2, 3.95 ERA)
Vanderbilt: Junior RHP Sonny Gray (12-3, 2.12 ERA)

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 4-1 against Vanderbilt in 2011 including 2-1 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites. UF is 124-63-1 in the all-time series between the two teams.
» The Gators recently the school’s single-season wins record (52).
» Florida is 39-7 this year when scoring first and 42-3 when outhitting their opponent. The Gators are also 35-6 when hitting a home run and 21-5 when playing error-free.
» UF has scored 207 more runs than their opponents this year.
» Florida is 28-0 when holding opponents to two or fewer runs and 37-1 when allowing three runs or less. The Gators are 7-15 when scoring less than three runs and 2-13 when trailing after seven innings.
» The Gators are 44-2 when scoring four runs or more and 45-0 when leading after seven full innings.
» Florida is making its seventh appearance in the CWS and third since 2005. UF has never won a national championship in the sport of baseball.
» The Gators are one of two teams (South Carolina) to play in the final CWS held at Rosenblatt Stadium and compete in the first one at TD Ameritrade Park.
» UF is in the CWS in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.
» Vanderbilt finished the regular season tied with Florida atop the SEC East with a 22-8 conference record. UF topped VU in the SEC Tournament.
» The Commodores are making their first-ever appearance in the CWS.
» Florida and Vanderbilt boast different strengths. The Gators lead the Commodores in hits (728-704), home runs (68-50), RBI (414-409) and slugging percentage (.465-.453). However, VU holds advantages in the majority of categories including batting average (.315-.308), runs scored (455-446), stolen bases (80-56), walks (194-123), ERA (2.38-2.95), strikeouts (557-525) and batting average against (.215-.242).
» For the first time in CWS history, three teams from the same conference (and same division) are among the final four to play for the title.

INJURY REPORT

Sophomore 1B/RHP Austin Maddox (foot) – Able to pitch; hitting to be determined

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore catcher Mike Zunino…a powerhouse at the plate who leads the team in batting average (.369), hits (93), homers (18), runs (73), slugging (.671)…and strikeouts (49). He also has 66 RBI on the season.
» Junior right fielder Preston Tucker…who is the Gators’ best run producer with 72 RBI on the season. Tucker is hitting .315 with 86 hits, 55 runs, 15 homers and 27 walks.
» Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana…the strongest fielder on the team who has also broke out offensively. Fontana, as the team’s leadoff hitter, is hitting .291 with 72 hits, 57 runs, 47 RBI and a team-high 51 walks. He had hit safely in 21-straight games.
» Maddox…who has made 19 relief appearances (24.1 innings) and has compiled a 0.74 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only three walks. He is also the team’s starting first baseman when healthy and is hitting .380 with six homers and 35 RBI.
» Junior reliever Nick Maronde (0-0, 1.93 ERA)…who has made a team-high 34 appearances this season and earned two saves in 42 innings pitched. He has amassed 54 strikeouts against only seven walks this season. Just seven of the 26 hits he has allowed over the course of the year have gone for extra bases.
» Senior center fielder Bryson Smith…who leads the Gators with a .516 (16-for-31) average in NCAA play and is currently riding a career-high 12-game hitting streak. Smith is batting .329 with 53 hits, 40 runs, two homers, 22 RBI and 16 walks this season.
» Vanderbilt junior 1B Aaron Westlake…who leads his team’s power surge with 17 homers this year. He is also hitting .343 with 55 RBI, 58 runs scored and has team-highs in walks (47) and slugging percentage (.629).
» Commodores junior third baseman Jason Esposito…who is batting .341 and is just as dynamic offensively as his teammate with nine homers, 55 runs scored, 15 stolen bases and a team-high 59 RBI.
» VU closer Navery Moore (4-2, 1.21 ERA)…who has made 28 appearances this season and amassed 11 saves via 25 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.

Pistons add Gators C Vernon Macklin with No. 52 overall pick in second round of 2011 NBA Draft

Round 2 – No. 52
Vernon Macklin, C
Detroit Pistons


Height: 6’10″ – Weight: 240 lbs.
Age: 24 – Class: Redshirt Senior

Just 14 picks after the Florida Gators notched their first selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Orange and Blue received more good news when center Vernon Macklin was picked No. 52 overall in the second round by the Detroit Pistons.

Florida’s starter in the middle the last two seasons, Macklin continues the trend of Gators low post players tabbed to play at the next level.

He averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 2011 while shooting a much-improved 59.3 percent form the field.

Most notable about his performance last season was his improvement around the basket, especially with a nearly unstoppable hook shot. Scouts note that he needs to improve his aggressiveness in rebounding the basketball but has the size and intangibles necessary to succeed at the next level as long as he can continue to develop.

“[This is] By far the BEST feelin I ever had I’n my LIFE,” Macklin tweeted.

For the fourth time in school history, the University of Florida has had at least two players selected in the NBA Draft (1984, 2000, 2007).

OGGOA will update this story shortly. Stay tuned.

Rockets select Gators F Chandler Parsons with No. 38 pick in second round of 2011 NBA Draft

Round 2 – No. 38
Chandler Parsons, F
Houston Rockets


Height: 6’10″ – Weight: 215 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Senior

Waiting patiently at his home in Orlando, FL, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons learned late Thursday evening that he had been selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 38 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft.

Parsons, the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, is the first Florida player to be selected in the NBA Draft since his former high school teammate, guard Nick Calathes, was picked No. 45 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009 before being traded on draft day to the Dallas Mavericks.

Parsons averaged 11.3 points per game as a senior and led the Gators in both rebounding (7.8) and assists (3.7) last season. He shot 48 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from beyond the arc and 55.7 percent from the free throw line in 2011.

A team leader who excelled in team workouts over the last month, Parsons has the size, length and basketball IQ to succeed at the next level. He can defend, rebound and make plays both off the dribble against slower opponents and in the post against smaller ones.

Parsons is the 32nd player in school history to be selected in the NBA Draft.

6/22 – Entry VI: Crossing the finish line
6/15 – Entry V: Workouts intensify
6/8 – Entry IV: East Coast trip continues
6/1 – Entry III: Month of workouts begins
5/24 – Entry II: Workouts, interviews, tests
5/17 – Entry I: Preparing for the combine

Urban Meyer’s role with ESPN has been set

ESPN is set to announce the official role former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer will have with the network for the 2011 college football season on Friday.

According to USA Today’s Michael Hiestand, Meyer will be working as a color commentator for the network’s noon eastern games alongside play-by-play man Dave Pash and analyst Chris Spielman.

His games “are largely expected to involve Big Ten teams” and will air on the primary ESPN channel. Meyer will also film taped features for College GameDay and appear live on the kick-off show via satellite.

“On purpose, I’m not trying to look far ahead,” he told Hiestand on Thursday. “Could I see doing this for a long time? Absolutely.”

OGGOA will update this post on Friday with additional information provided by ESPN.

Photo Credit: ESPN

Gators hope to be picked in 2011 NBA Draft

With the 2011 NBA Draft set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (live on ESPN, OGGOA has rounded up some of the latest prognostications about the trio of Florida Gators hoping to live out their dream – forwards Chandler Parsons, Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus.

Chandler Parsons (Winter Park, FL)
2011 SEC Player of the Year
Height: 6’10″ | Weight: 215 lbs.
2011 Averages: 11.3 PTS, 7.8 TRB, 3.7 AST, .480 FG%, .368 3P%, .557 FT%

Draft Projection: Late first-round to early second-round pick

ESPN’s Chad Ford: No. 32 overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers – “If the Cavs get a point guard and a big man early in the draft, don’t be surprised to see them reach a bit for Parsons here. He has great size, is very skilled and has been one of the best workout players in the draft.”

DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony: No. 27 overall to the New Jersey Nets – “Parsons has seen his stock rise significantly over the past few weeks thanks to some impressive workouts. Standing 6-10, he’s one of the most polished and versatile players in the draft, capable of playing as many as three positions. The Nets are fairly weak at small forward and could use another ball-handler capable of passing and making shots from the perimeter.”

NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper: No. 33 overall to the Detroit Pistons – “Parsons is a nice offensive package of shooting, passing and ball handling, with intangibles of experience at a major program and a high basketball IQ.”

NBADraft.net: No. 41 overall to the Los Angeles Lakers

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “At 6’10″ and with all that versatility, he can help. You can look at him like some of the other players who have excelled [in the NBA] recently like Wes Matthews and Landry Fields as rookies. If he can find a place, with that size and [his skills] on the perimeter, I think that can be a help. He’s going to have to do it on the defensive end to earn those minutes on the court.”

Rankings: Parsons is listed as the No. 37 overall player in the draft by ESPN and No. 41 overall by CBS – “Parsons is an unselfish performer, earning more satisfaction from feeding the ball to an open teammate than creating the shot for himself. He ranks 10th in school annals with 339 assists. The only other Florida wing on the top 10 assists list is Nick Calathes (452; 2008-09). His 1,462 points is the most among active Florida players.”

Ratings: FOX lists Parsons as the fourth-best passer in the draft, fifth-most versatile player, third-best basketball IQ and the fourth second-round sleeper to look out for.

Vernon Macklin (Portsmouth, VA)
Height: 6’10″ | Weight: 240 lbs.
2011 Averages: 11.6 PTS, 5.4 TRB, 0.7 BLK, .593 FG%, .451 FT%

Draft Projection: Second round pick

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “I’m not going to be shocked if he sneaks into the first round. He may not, but that’s OK. I think he has an excellent chance to make a team this year.”

Rankings: Macklin is listed as the No. 93 overall player in the draft by ESPN but is not being ranked by any other outlets. He is also not mocked to be selected in the draft.

Alex Tyus (St. Louis, MO)
Height: 6’8″ | Weight: 220 lbs.
2011 Averages: 9.1 PTS, 6.2 TRB, 0.8 BLK, .500 FG%, .333 3P%, .630 FT%

Draft Projection: Undrafted

NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake: “At that size, he can be an all-effort player. He can be a guy to set screens, rebound, knock down the open jumper – there are a lot of them out there. But he does have a lot of ability.”

Rankings: Tyus is not found in any Top 100 rankings and is not expected to be selected.

Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Working out and crossing the finish line

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 more than half the teams in the league, Parsons got in touch with us Wednesday after finally returning to Orlando, FL following a whirlwind tour of the United States. As he patiently waits to learn where he will be playing professional basketball in the future, Parsons is (finally) relaxing with friends, hanging out with family and getting himself prepared for the big day.

With his Path to the Draft set to conclude Thursday, Parsons will check in with one more blog entry to discuss the team that selects him and how he feels about finally reaching his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.

We last spoke with Parsons the day before he worked out for the Denver Nuggets.

Denver was a great workout for me. That was one of the best workouts for me; I competed very hard and won a lot of the games. I feel like my pre-draft conditioning in Los Angeles and Chicago really paid off there because the altitude there. It was so hard to workout there and catch your breath. I felt like I was in really good shape and a lot of the other guys were tired. I felt like that was an advantage for me because I was able to pull through and keep playing through fatigue.

I’ve been playing a lot with Jordan Hamilton [of Texas], and he’s listed as one of the best small forwards in the draft. Every time I get a chance to go up against one of these guys with hype, it’s exciting for me. I got something to prove every time I do it.

I immediately went to the Golden State Warriors on a back-to-back. After a three-hour flight to Oakland, I had a workout with the Warriors which actually went really well, too. These last four workouts have probably been me playing the best. It is probably because there are no nerves now; I’m used to it. Golden State was also a really good workout.

[Clay Thompson of Washington State] was really good. He’s 6’7” and he’s got great size for a shooting guard. And he literally has one of the best shots I have ever seen. He’s got height, so his shot doesn’t get blocked and he gets it off very quickly. I was impressed with him.

Golden State was really cool because Mark Jackson was there, and he just got the [head coaching] job there. He had some really encouraging words for me after the workout. He said he thought I was going to be really good in this league and play immediately because of my skill set and my understanding of how to play with guys. That was really positive and really exciting.

After the Warriors workout, I thought that I had only one more workout with the Boston Celtics. After that workout, I went to the airport and my flight was at 9 p.m. I was taking a red-eye to Logan Airport in Boston. It ended up getting delayed like four hours until 2:10 a.m. and it finally departed, but I didn’t get into Boston until 11 a.m.

I had two days off in Boston and met up with Jeff Goodman, the college basketball writer with CBS. He lives in Boston, so he picked me up and took me to dinner. I was able to relax and get off my feet. I went to the arena and got some shots up with one of their managers the night before. Boston was a really cool town. I got to see Fenway [Park] and just being able to workout in their facility with all the tradition they have there was unbelievable. You see so many banners; it was just unbelievable.

That’s when I found out – on those two off-days in Boston – is when I heard that the Milwaukee Bucks really wanted to get me in on a last-minute thing and that it would be a really strong workout. So I knew going into the Boston workout that I had at least one more on a back-to-back with the Bucks.

In Boston I went against Kyle Singler again from Duke. Did a little bit of everything – posted up, turned around and hits shots. I played really well in that workout and got really positive feedback from [president] Danny Ainge and [head coach] Doc Rivers.

Teams put you in a situation and they want to see how you react to it. And when they see me in a pick-and-roll and a guard switches on me, it shows them a lot the fact that I will duck them in, post up and finish around the rim. That’s something that I’ve really been doing well – when I have a smaller guy on me, taking them to the block and posting them up – versus having a bigger, slower guy on me, I take them off the dribble and use my quickness. I’ve just been trying to show everything.

I immediately went to Milwaukee and worked out with the Bucks last night – that was a monster workout. It was basically all guys that are set to be first-round and had great college years. It was a great opportunity to go up against them and leave a lasting impression. At one point in the workout, their assistant coach said, “Keep going, you’re the best player in the workout right now.” So that was encouraging. Most importantly, these guys just want to see how hard you play and if you can win the drills.

Of course my flight gets delayed until 12:30 a.m. again [Tuesday]. Actually I was on the runway for two hours, and they have a rule where they had to take us off back into the gate and then re-board us 30 minutes to an hour later. After that point, it was kind of a relieving feeling. Looking back on it, I just worked out for 16 NBA teams. I met incredible people, worked out against the best players in the country, and it’s finally over.

I talked to my agent [Mark Bartelstein], and there’s basically nothing left I could have done. I did everything he asked me to do. I put myself in a great situation to get drafted where I want to get drafted. Now it’s up to [my agent and the teams]. I’m sure they’re going to be on the phone making hundreds of calls these next two days. It’s almost scary because now it’s completely out of my hands; there’s nothing I can do. I’m in Orlando with my family, so I’m probably just going to play golf and just continue to workout. There’s really nothing I can do but enjoy it. I understand that I’ve done it all, left it all out there, and now it’s up to the GMs and the teams.

I feel 100 percent great, and I feel confident. If people were looking at me before this process started as a NBA player, I’ve done every single thing in my power to back-up everything they heard in these workouts. I really 100 percent feel confident about that – that I played very well. I didn’t have a bad workout. I worked hard every single workout and did everything they asked me to do. I was never late, never missed a flight, did everything correctly. I believe I put myself in a great position and really helped myself out throughout the process. All I need is one team to fall in love with me and like me. Whatever team does that is going to get a great player who is going to work hard and contribute right away.

I actually should be exhausted, honestly. My flight got delayed and I got in [Wednesday morning] at 2 a.m., didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m., but I had to wake up this morning early to get a haircut. I was planning on sleeping in. I got a big-time barber; he’s got a tight schedule. I’ve been going to Dennis at Dolce Vida [in downtown Orlando] since high school.

I’ve had a best friend since I was like 12 years old, my boy Pausha, and I’ve been kicking it with him. My family is here, and there will be about 15-20 people at my house Thursday including my AAU coach, Pausha, a couple of my other friends from Florida, my three older brothers and my parents. I’m just going to do a little gathering and not do any media or anything and just do a private thing. The people who have been with me since day one are going to be the only people there. It’s going to be exciting. If it goes as well as planned, the night is definitely not going to stop after the draft. It’s just going to be a great night that we’ve been waiting on for a long time. It’s a really exciting time for me and my family, and I’m hyped for it.

I’ve heard the [post-draft] process is different for every team. Golden State brings in the guys Monday for a press conference, but I’ve heard some teams will bring you in the next day. Whatever team drafts me, I’ll be communicating with them for my plans over the next week and then my plans if this lockout happens.

OGGOA FAN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK

Q: Is this draft workout process the most difficult thing you’ve done in your entire basketball career up to this point? – Nina S.
PARSONS: “It’s hard but this is the situation you want to be in. Yeah, it’s exhausting and grueling, but millions of other kids in the world would die to be in my position right now. I wouldn’t say it was the hardest thing for me to do – that probably would have been adjusting from high school basketball to college basketball. The speed of the game, the strength, the conditioning and everything like that. This is fun. This is a dream come true. I’m going out and working out in front of Michael Jordan, Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh. This is something not a lot of people have. Yeah, this was tough, but it is an honor to be in this situation.”

Q: After going through the pre-draft process, is there anything you would have changed about how you played at Florida or do you think you were perfectly prepared for this next step? – Jesse H.
PARSONS: “I think my entire life – I wouldn’t change a thing. I stayed in college for four years and did everything I could. We went through a lot of losses but also a lot of wins. We’ve had some good times and some bad times, and being with Coach [Billy] Donovan for four years made me the player I am today. He taught me what it takes to win, that you can’t take a day off, and he helped me with my maturity. Me growing off the court has helped me grow on the court, just understanding everyday things. I was a late bloomer. Nobody would give me the time of day; nobody wanted me on their AAU team. I was fortunate enough to play on a great high school team with great players. I got a scholarship to Florida – a school I always wanted to go to. I don’t regret anything. I got the school’s first SEC Player of the Year [in basketball] and helped Coach get his first SEC Coach of the Year. We did some special things, and I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of things in my life to be in the situation that I’m in now. And I wouldn’t change any of it.”

Go Gators,

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