Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Participating in combine workouts, interviews

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.

In Minneapolis, MN as one of a select group of 24 prospects invited to compete in a private group workout for all 30 NBA general managers, Parsons got in touch with us Monday to submit his second entry while relaxing after having conducted interviews with two more interested teams. He will be all over the country throughout the next month but will continue checking in with us each week.

I had already begun working out in Chicago the last time we spoke, but on Wednesday morning I checked into the Westin hotel right in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue. I was training there a couple days before it started, so I had been there before all the other players got there.

You get there and check in and you really don’t do much that first day. You get your check for the week, get into your room and get settled. The next morning [Thursday], I got up at 5:45 a.m. and had a drug test at 6 a.m. Then they ran us through all the testing: height, weight, wingspan, size of your hands, shoes off, shoes on, different tests for tuberculosis. They took five tubes of blood. They basically did every single medical test possible there. That was the first morning and then basically we ate breakfast and then headed to the gym for the first part of the combine.

They had it split up into guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers; obviously I was in the small forward group. There was a lot of shooting, dribble pull-ups and series of shots without defense – coming off pick-and-rolls, coming off the trail, coming off curl screens, just getting a lot of shots up with basically every GM and coach there – everyone from [Chicago Bulls team ambassador] Scottie Pippen to [New York Knicks head coach] Mike D’Antoni.

You shoot and then you actually compete, too. We played one-on-one, two-on-two off the dribble. It was about an hour workout, so it kind of zipped through. The second day [Friday] was similar but also included agility testing like the cone drill, three quarter court sprint, standing vert[ical jump], bench press.

I played well, shot the ball well. My agent said I basically did everything I could for my situation. We got a lot of good feedback from the individual team interviews that followed each day. Basically everyone said they were really impressed. I shot the ball really well, played tough. I interviewed with the [Los Angeles] Clippers, [Atlanta] Hawks, [Portland] Trailblazers, [San Antonio] Spurs, [Boston] Celtics, [Miami] Heat, [Minnesota] Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. I had probably 10 interviews with me just sitting in the hotel room with them getting to know me. They get to see your personality, and I think that’s something I’ve been doing really good at…just being myself, having fun with it and being the outgoing guy that I am.

There were crazy questions. They asked me everything from my upbringing to the girls in Gainesville to… ‘Have you ever failed a drug test? Have you ever been arrested? Who’s the best player you’ve played against?’ They get pretty personal, too. They ask if you smoke and drink. If you think about it, they’re investing millions of dollars in you and it’s a business, so teams want to know everything about you before they draft you.

The last two days – Saturday and Sunday – I went to the hospital and took every single medical exam possible. Saturday I went in and took all these tests…MRIs, X-rays, you get tested for everything. And then Sunday, all the NBA trainers come in and talk to you about your results; that’s literally all day. There were no red flags for me; I’ve been really fortunate and blessed, never even rolled my ankle.

Last night we had a four-hour delay in the airport and then an hour delay on the actual plane on the runway due to all of the tornadoes in Minnesota. It was terrible. We got in here late last night, ate food and then hit the bed.

When I woke up [Monday] morning, I had to take a 240-question personality test and then also a speed test about how quick you react. There would be, for example, six pictures of a Christmas tree, a sun, a fork, a dog and a spoon, and you’d have to circle the two that are the most similar or which repeat in a pattern. That is timed. The first two groups also worked out, but I’m in group three so I don’t work out until [Tuesday].

A few of us also got to walk around downtown Minneapolis and grab dinner, and then we went back to the hotel for interviews. Tuesday I will come in, work out and then leave. Combining the interviews I’ve done before the combine, at the combine and today with the 12-15 city workouts I have scheduled, by the time it is all over I will have worked out with every team.

One team is going to draft me, but you never know down the line when I’m a free agent when I get to pick who I play for…as much as they’re interviewing me, on the flip side, I’m taking mental notes of who I liked, how it went. I look at it like this: The more teams you meet with and work out for, the better.

Go Gators,

FOUR BITS: Crowder, Harvin, Noah, Calathes

1 » Outspoken Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder told the Sun-Sentinel Tuesday that the current NFL lockout could “mess up integrity of the game” if it continues. “There’s going to be more injuries, it’s going to be real simple football,” he said. “It’s going to mess up the integrity of the game because we’re used to having those OTA’s, minicamps, off-season workouts […] it’s hurting the NFL now and as long as the owners won’t let us go to work it’s going to continue to hurt the game we love.” Crowder has been participating in private workouts with teammates in the offseason and hopes to be in top-notch condition when the season begins…whenever (if ever) that occurs.

2 » In a pairing that may make some Florida Gators fans cringe, Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder has reached out to wide receiver Percy Harvin to begin working out together. The former Florida State Seminoles QB and Florida WR could be connecting for touchdowns for quite some time considering Harvin’s impressive athleticism and Ponder being selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

3 » In an extensive question-and-answer session with self-described “out, gay sportswriter” Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah provided additional perspective on how his anger at a fan is not representative of him as a person. Below is a short excerpt from the interview, which can be read here in full.

Arnovitz: I understand. I just wish it hadn’t been you. I mean, that word is hard to hear no matter who says it, but you’re supposed to be one of the enlightened guys. You’re the guy who grew up in Soho and has European parents and friends all over the world. There are a lot of players in the league who, whether because they come from certain backgrounds or maybe choose not to care, don’t surprise me. But you surprised me.

Noah: You know, all my best friends live downtown in New York City. I was made in Soho. Sometimes, when you’re at this level you don’t realize the consequences or how much a word can bother people. My mom’s best friend was gay. We used to call him “Mom.” So I’m disappointed because that’s not me. I didn’t mean any harm to anybody. I don’t want anyone to feel disrespected by what I said, and I understand that’s what’s going to happen. […]

Arnovitz: So it’s safe to say you’re really pissed off at yourself? Moderately pissed off at yourself? Pissed off at the potential consequences?

Noah: I’m pissed off that I’m a distraction to my teammates right now. We’re playing the biggest game of our lives and this is off subject. I’m pissed off that I might’ve offended people.

4 » Though the Gators do have one former player – forward Corey Brewer on the Western Conference Finals leading (3-1) Dallas Mavericks, another could be joining the team shortly. Former Florida point guard Nick Calathes, is currently playing for Panathinaikos in Greece but only has one more year remaining on his deal. With Dallas’ older backcourt and need for big men in the draft this year, there are whispers that Calathes could be playing in the NBA as soon as the 2012-13 season.

TWO BITS: Beemer wins, Washington to transfer

1 » Former Florida Gators walk-on defensive lineman Gary Beemer, who is most famous for scoring a touchdown as a replacement running back on Senior Day last season, received the 2011 John Stucky Award for being one of the “most impressive young strength coaches” who take the oral portion of the certification and are interviewed about their knowledge. Beemer, who is currently an intern in Florida’s strength and conditioning department, hopes to make a career in the field. He will learn from one of the best, head strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, one of only 71 people in the world to hold a Master of Strength and Conditioning certification, according to the University of Florida.

2 » Gators sophomore outfielder Kamm Washington is set to transfer out of the program, according to a report from the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser. Washington, who played in 33 games this season, is looking at a number of options. “He left on his own free will,” his mother, Cheryl Washington, told the Post. “It was not a good fit.”

Mike Zunino named 2011 SEC Player of the Year; seven teammates awarded All-SEC honors

The team’s leader in hits, runs, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, Florida Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino was named the 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by the league’s coaches on Tuesday.

He is the second University of Florida baseball player to ever win the award. Former Gators first baseman Matt LaPorta captured the honor in 2005 and 2007.

A terror at the plate for Florida all season, Zunino leads the conference in home runs (15), RBI (59), runs scored (62) and total bases (141); he is second in the SEC in batting average (.383, -.002) and slugging percentage (.701, -.008). Zunino is also tied for third in doubles (19), places fifth in on-base percentage (.455) and is tied for sixth in hits (77).

He was named to the 2011 All-SEC First Team alongside teammates junior outfielder Preston Tucker and sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson. Also on the team are Vanderbilt’s Aaron Westlake, Tony Kemp and Grayson Garvin; South Carolina’s Scott Wingo, Michael Roth and Matt Price; Kentucky’s Casey McElroy; LSU’s Mikie Mahtook; and Auburn’s Casey McElroy.

His Gators teammates – senior second baseman Josh Adams, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana and sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall – were placed on the All-SEC Second Team. RHP Karsten Whitson and third baseman Zack Powers were honored on the 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team, and both Zunino and Fontana earned spots on the 2011 SEC All-Defensive Team.

It is the first time in UF history that student-athletes representing the school have won SEC Player of the Year in baseball and softball (senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder). Florida now has 11 SEC Players of the Year for 2010-11 also including Chandler Parsons (men’s basketball), Bank Vongvanij (men’s golf), Christian Taylor (men’s indoor track & field), Will Claye (men’s outdoor track & field), Conor Dwyer (men’s swimming), Monica Dodson (women’s diving), Kathryn Williamson (women’s soccer), Allie Will (women’s tennis) and Kelly Murphy (volleyball). Gators lacrosse’s Kitty Cullen also won ALC Player of the Year.

Photo Credits: The News-Press, John Korduner/Icon SMI

Florida women’s tennis shuts out UCLA 4-0, will face Stanford for 2011 NCAA Championship

Competing in the Final Four for the second-straight season and 21st time in the last 25 years, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (30-1) shut out the No. 6 UCLA Bruins (22-6) 4-0 to advance to the 2011 NCAA Championship taking place on Tuesday at Taube Tennis Stadium in Stanford, CA.

Florida got the evening started by winning two of three doubles contests and picking up the first point of the match. The No. 45 pairing of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen won their set 8-6, and the duo of sophomore Caroline Hitimana and junior Joanna Mather closed out their opponents 8-4.

Embree/Oyen and Hitimana/Mather have been on fire for UF, also winning the doubles point for the Gators in their Elite Eight match-up on Sunday.

No. 17 Embree captured the first singles point with a dominant 6-2, 6-2 victory over No. 42 Noelle Hickey and was followed by No. 54 Cercone, who outlasted No. 77 Courtney Dolehide 7-5, 6-3 to give Florida a 3-0 advantage. With the sun setting and the courts becoming much colder, No. 7 sophomore Allie Will – UF’s ace all season – clinched the win for the Gators with a 7-6, 6-2 triumph over No. 57 McCall Jones on court one.

Florida will face the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal (28-0) for the title for the second consecutive year and ninth time since 1988. The Cardinal defeated the Gators 4-3 for the 2010 NCAA Championship and is 6-2 all-time against UF when competing for the national title. Stanford is 16-11 all-time against Florida.

Tuesday’s championship game, where the Gators will look to break the Cardinal’s 184 consecutive match home winning streak, will air live on ESPNU at 7 p.m.

Tebow talks about “Through My Eyes” memoir

A new promotional video has been released featuring Denver Broncos and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow discussing his memoir, Through My Eyes, which will be released nationwide on May 31.

Companies like Amazon.com have begun taking pre-orders with a release date of May 31. HarperCollins will initially print 200,000 copies of the memoir, and an audio book will also be available. Through My Eyes will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well. You can pre-order it by clicking here.

Tebow will also be participating in a five-city book tour from May 30-June 11. For more information on where he will be appearing in Florida and Colorado, click here.

Noah’s rough Sunday includes one point, gay slur

Post updated at 5:25 p.m.

Sunday was not the best night for Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.

Facing the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals, Noah only posted a single point while failing to connect on an attempt from the field, grabbing just five rebounds and dishing six assists.

Additionally, his defense on Heat power forward Chris Bosh was lacking; Bosh scored most of his game-high 34 points on Noah and ended up +15.

“I never got into a rhythm,” he said. “Even if I’m not in an offensive rhythm, I have to bring more. Give Miami credit, they played well. But we can get better.”

However, what Noah will actually be remembered for from Sunday’s game is not his poor performance but rather something he said while on the bench. He apparently directed a gay slur at a heckler in the pro-Miami crowd who was repeatedly taunting him.

Note: The video below contains explicit, inflammatory language.

Like Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant received a few weeks ago, Noah will likely be handed down a fine from the NBA league office for the slur. Bryant uttered a similar phrase to a referee previously in these playoffs.

Noah has since apologized for his actions, something Bryant chose not to do.

“It’s very disappointing. I apologize if I offended anyone,” he said. “I was just caught in the moment. A fan said something that was disrespectful toward me, and I responded. I have to take the consequences like a man. It was just a bad decision on my part.”

UPDATE: Noah has since apologized a second time. “I don’t want to be a distraction for the team, and I apologize for what I said,” he said Monday. “What I said wasn’t right. I don’t want to disrespect anybody. That’s not what I’m about. I just got caught up in something a fan said and I went back at him, and I’m going to face the consequences as a man. Sometimes fans say things that are a little bit overboard, but still, it’s on us not to react. If you react, they win, and I did. It was a bad decision on my part, and I’m going to face some pretty severe consequences.”

Noah was fined $50,000 Monday evening by the NBA.

The quotes used in this post are courtesy of the Miami Herald and New York Times.

Florida sweeps SEC All-Sports awards…again

Any doubt that the University of Florida had the dominant athletics program in the Southeastern Conference during the 2010-11 school year was put to rest Sunday as the university was named the SEC All-Sports champion by the New York Times Regional Media Group for the third-straight season. Sweeping all three titles – overall, men’s and women’s – the Florida Gators won by staggering numbers in each category, literally dominating the competition.

Team (OVERALL)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida160.51610.03
No. 2 Georgia139168.69
No. 3 Tennessee123.5158.23

Team (MEN's)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida 71.5710.21
No. 2 Georgia6178.71
No. 3 Alabama5377.57

Team (WOMEN's)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida8999.89
No. 2 Tennessee75.589.44
No. 3 Georgia7898.67

Florida is the only school to sweep all three titles in a single season, accomplishing the feat for the 11th time, fourth in the last five years and third-in-a-row (2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10). All 16 of UF’s sports (nine women’s, seven men’s) were counted with cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field combined into one unit per gender.

The Gators won eight SEC titles over this period: baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s track & field, women’s cross country, soccer, women’s tennis and volleyball. It is the fourth time UF has won seven or more SEC titles in a single season.

Florida has been victorious in 21 of the last 24 All-Sports awards with the men’s program winning its 15th and women’s program winning its 18th respective individual titles.

The Gators lead the SEC with 201 all-time team titles.

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