1 » Training camp for many NBA teams begins on Tuesday and there are currently 15 former Florida Gators on rosters with 12 assured of making the cut out of training camp this season. Guard Bradley Beal (Washington), forward Matt Bonner (San Antonio), F Corey Brewer (Minnesota), point guard Nick Calathes (Memphis), power forward Udonis Haslem (Miami), PF Al Horford (Atlanta), PF David Lee (Golden State), F Mike Miller (Cleveland), center Joakim Noah (Chicago), F Chandler Parsons (Dallas), PF Marreese Speights (Golden State) and C Patric Young (New Orleans) will all certainly find their way onto regular-season rosters. Also competing in training camp right now are PF Vernon Macklin (New Orleans), F Erik Murphy (Boston) and F Casey Prather (Phoenix). Murphy has barely played since being selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft and will be on his fourth team in just over one full season. Macklin and Prather both received non-guaranteed, league-minimum training camp contracts.
What is this?
This is something I have wanted to bring to OnlyGators.com for a while, a weekly column combining opinion, entertainment and information. Seeing as this is still the offseason – and today also happens to be my birthday – I felt there was no better time than the present to begin The Silver Lining, which will be posted every Wednesday right here on OnlyGators.com. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.
The “football school” tag was removed from the Florida Gators long ago, but it is nevertheless noteworthy how much of an impact head basketball coach Billy Donovan has made not just on the school but the NBA as well.
Consider this: On Tuesday, forward Chandler Parsons officially became the best-paid former Florida basketball player in school history (based on average salary) when he signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He will earn $14.7 million next year, $15.4 million in 2015-16 and $16.1 million in 2016-17; the latter two salaries are the highest ever scheduled to be paid to a player out of UF.
Consider this, also: During the 2014-15 season, the Gators will have four players earning $12 million or more from their respective NBA teams including Parsons, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee ($15.0 million), Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah ($12.2 million) and Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford ($12.0 million).
1 » Teams understandably praise the players they draft, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly went above and beyond simply sharing the standard compliments when discussing Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins, his fourth-round pick, after making the selection. “Extremely high football intelligence,” he said of Watkins. “He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you’re drafting guys, you’re trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level. He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially [on day three]. He’s one of those guys that we were really excited about [Friday] night, where if we didn’t get a great offer then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen [with the first pick of the fourth round].” Watkins will start out at cornerback for the Eagles, according to general manager Howie Roseman (a Florida alumnus), but could play safety down the road as he develops and potentially adds more weight to his frame.
2 » The New England Patriots jumped at the opportunity to draft Gators guard Jon Halapio in the sixth round on Saturday with head coach Bill Bellichick “a little surprised to see him where he was” still available that late in the draft. While Halapio should make the team and could eventually develop into a starter in New England, he will also help the team’s first-round pick, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, with his transition to the NFL. “It’s good to have people [here] I’ve been around four years in college,” Easley said in his team press conference. “It makes it real comfortable.”
The first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs concluded on Sunday with only three of the 10 former Florida Gators in the postseason seeing their teams advance to the conference semifinals.
Former Gators were represented on eight of the 16 playoff teams with eight total players active (five starters, three reserves). Three of those five starters have been eliminated.
OnlyGators.com has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Florida players accomplished in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the second round.
C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: GP/GS (5/5), MIN (42.0), PPG (10.4), RPG (12.8), APG (4.6), SPG (1.0), BPG (1.4), TPG (3.8), FPG (3.8)
» Shooting: FG% (.512), 3P% (.000), FT% (.588)
» Highlights: Noah posted three double-doubles in five games led by a commanding 20 points and 12 boards in a two-point Game 2 home loss. He dealt with heavy defensive pressure throughout the series but nevertheless combined for 33 rebounds in the final two games of the series.
» Playoffs: The No. 4-seed Bulls fell in five games to the No. 5 Washington Wizards and were eliminated from postseason action.
F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: GP/GS (7/7), MIN (31.1), PPG (13.9), RPG (9.1), APG (2.6), SPG (0.6), BPG (0.0), TPG (2.4), FPG (4.0), A/TO (1.1)
» Shooting: FG% (.532), 3P% (.000), FT% (.789)
» Highlights: Lee posted three double-doubles in the series though only one came in a victory as he put up 20 points and 13 rebounds in a series-opening road win. He went off for 18 points and 10 boards in Game 5 and saw lucky number 13 pop up in both points and boards as his team was knocked out of the playoffs in Game 7.
» Playoffs: The No. 6-seed Warriors lost in seven games to the No. 3-seed Los Angeles Clippers and were eliminated from postseason action.
F CHANDLER PARSONS, Houston Rockets: GP/GS (6/6), MIN (41.5), PPG (19.3), RPG (6.8), APG (2.3), SPG (0.7), BPG (0.3), TPG (0.8), FPG (3.2)
» Shooting: FG% (.438), 3P% (.361), FT% (.733)
» Highlights: Parsons scored in double figures in all six games and posted a double-double in the Game 6 finale but was most impressive in Game 4 when he scored 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, drained 4-of-6 threes and hauled in eight rebounds in a 123-120 overtime loss. He nearly helped Houston stave off elimination in Game 6 with a last-second shot but saw a buzzer-beater negate his last-ditch efforts.
» Playoffs: The No. 4-seed Rockets lost in six games to the No. 5-seed Portland Trailblazers and were eliminated from postseason action.
Updated on Tuesday, May 13 at 5 p.m.
Forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators standout Al Horford, has decided to play out his final year of eligibility in Gainesville, Florida, according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.
Entering his redshirt senior campaign, Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be eligible to play immediately due to the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption after receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan in May.
The school announced his transfer on May 13, noting that he started graduate-level classes when the Summer A semester began on May 12.
Florida has a crowded frontcourt in 2014-15 but should be able to find a fair amount of playing time for Horford. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest last season and originally decided to transfer to see more time on the court.
That may not be possible with the Gators, which will have sophomore Chris Walker, redshirt senior Damontre Harris, redshirt juniors Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy, and five-star incoming freshman Devin Robinson in the frontcourt.
Walker is likely to start at power forward or center next to either Harris or Murphy with Finney-Smith playing small forward. Horford will give Florida a big body and great energy off the bench to spell Walker and Harris but could see an uptick in playing time should Harris once again fall out of favor with the program.
With Horford’s transfer, UF has filled its final scholarship for the 2014-15 campaign.
Four-star guard Brandone Francis and four-star point guard Chris Chiozza are the other two incoming freshman aside from Robinson. All three first-year players are ranked among the top 42 prospects in the nation for 2014, according to Rivals.com.
Murphy will not be eligible until the spring semester after transferring in the middle of the 2013-14 season; however, the Gators plan to petition the NCAA for a waiver that would allow the legacy to play at the start of the campaign.
1 » According to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman, redshirt junior forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators F Al Horford, is heavily considering choosing to play the final year of his collegiate career in Gainesville, FL. Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be a redshirt senior in 2014-15 and cleared to play without having to sit out a season. He registered 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for Michigan last season and decided to transfer in order to get more playing time. That is one reason why a move to Florida was not believed to be on the table previously. Though the Gators are in need of frontcourt players, they do have freshman Chris Walker and redshirt junior Damontre Harris at center next season. Florida will also play redshirt juniors Alex Murphy (currently not scheduled to be eligible until the spring), redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Devin Robinson, though the latter two players will likely play small forward. Horford’s addition would fill UF’s remaining 2014-15 scholarship but not affect the allotment for 2015-16.
2 » Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley has spent the last seven months rehabilitating his torn ACL but is finally getting the chance to show NFL teams what he can do on Thursday as he is participating in a private Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Joining Easley for the workout are outside linebackers Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, who also participated in Florida’s first Pro Day one month earlier on March 17. Easley recently completed a visit with the Dallas Cowboys, his first private trip, and is expected to go on many more after his Pro Day workout is complete. Projections for Easley range from the second to fifth round, but he is likely to be taken on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft as long as he can prove he’s healthy.
With the 2013-14 NBA regular season concluding on Wednesday, 10 of the 12 former Florida Gators basketball players in the league advanced to the 2014 NBA Playoffs and saw their campaign continue.
Former Gators are represented on eight of the 16 playoff teams with nine total players active for the playoffs (four starters, five reserves).
OnlyGators.com has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Florida players accomplished throughout the entire 2013-14 season and can look ahead to in the NBA Playoffs.
* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: GP/GS (80/80), MIN (35.2), PPG (12.6), RPG (11.3), APG (5.4), SPG (1.2), BPG (1.5), TPG (2.4), FPG (3.1), A/TO (2.3)
» Shooting: FG% (.475), 3P% (.000), FT% (.737)
» Highlights: Four triple-doubles, 47 double-doubles
» Top 25 ranks (season): Triple-doubles (No. 2), total rebounds (No. 4), offensive rebounds (No. 4), offensive rebounds per game (No. 4), double-doubles (No. 5), defensive rebounds (No. 7), defensive rebounds per game (No. 8), total efficiency points (No. 8), blocks (No. 10), blocks per game (No. 12), efficiency ranking (No. 14), minutes played (No. 16), assists (No. 22), assists per game (No. 25)
» Career-highs (season): Games played (80), games started (80), minutes played (2,820), points (1,007, 12.6 per game), offensive rebounds (282), defensive rebounds (618), total rebounds (900, 11.3 per game), assists (431, 5.4 per game), steals (99, 1.2 per game), turnovers (194), fouls (245), field goals made (380), field goals attempted (800), free throws made (247), free throws attempted (335)
» Career-highs (game): Assists (14), minutes played (50)
» Notes: Noah became the fourth center in NBA history with four triple-doubles of points, rebounds and assists in a single season (Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Bill Russell). He was the first Chicago player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season. Noah also competed in his second-straight NBA All-Star game, is a candidate for league MVP and is almost a sure-fire bet to receive a number of other honors.
» Playoffs: The Bulls are the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on the No. 5 Washington Wizards beginning on Sunday.
Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NBA played this season…
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NBA: 2013-14 regular season marks and 2014 Playoffs preview
Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-3) was riding high on Saturday as the team prepared to play in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the AT&T Center in Arlington, TX. There was so much written about the team by former and current student-athletes, in fact, that this post had to be limited to those either with ties to the basketball program or in attendance at the game.
Though the (7) UConn Huskies (31-8) were victorious and eliminated Florida from the event, there was still plenty of well-wishers after the contest. Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game.
Gameday 4 me today and 4 my gators in the final 4
— Erving Walker (@ErvWalker11) April 5, 2014
Where my #Gators at?! Who's in dallas for the Final Four?!
— David Nelson (@DavidNelson86) April 5, 2014
This game can't come fast enough! Ready to watch my Gators advance to the Final!! #gatorbait
— matt walsh (@mattyvincent44) April 5, 2014