PF Noah Dickerson commits to Florida, Donovan

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Going back to the Montverde Academy pipeline for the third time in the last four recruiting cycles, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan landed a big verbal commitment on Sunday when four-star power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) announced his intention to join the program next season.

At 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Dickerson is rated as the No. 56 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals. A one-time Georgetown commitment, he changed his mind in June and reopened his recruitment, listening to pitches from a number of schools including Florida.

In the end, Dickerson decided to play for Donovan and the Gators.

Continue Reading » PF Noah Dickerson commits to Florida, Donovan

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FOUR BITS: Daigneault, Hayden, Murphy

1 » A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball staff, Mark Daigneault is on the verge of being hired away as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA D-League team, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Daigneault, who served as “assistant to the head coach” under Billy Donovan, is 29 years old and never coached on the court at Florida. Instead, he was tasked with a variety of tasks including helping players with their off-the-court needs and scouting prospects. “If you work with [Donovan], whether you are a player or his staff, there is a connection that he has with you,” he told the Fitchburg Sentinel and Enterprise back in March. “He’s just one of those people that are extremely genuine and authentic. He’s about as normal a person that you can be around for someone who has experienced as much success as he has. He is very grounded and doesn’t see himself above anyone else.” Daigneault previously served as an assistant coach at Holy Cross for three seasons.

2 » The Gators basketball team participated in “strongman”-style workouts again this offseason. Some of the exercises were caught on camera and compiled below.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Daigneault, Hayden, Murphy

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Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

Drawing similarities between a coach who led a team to its worst record since 1979 with another who won back-to-back national titles is a tall task, but Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that in a radio interview on Thursday.

While once again expressing his complete confidence that head football coach Will Muschamp is the right man for the job, one who can turn the Gators back into a contender after leading the program to a 4-8 record in 2013, Foley explained in-depth to Buddy Martin of WOCA 1370 AM how he saw – and still sees – in Muschamp many of the characteristics that made head basketball coach Billy Donovan successful.

“I’m not saying Will and Billy are the same person, but [when I hired Muschamp] I saw the same energy, I saw the same passion, I saw the same enthusiasm, I saw the same track record in terms of he coached for some of the greats, certainly Nick Saban,” said Foley.

Continue Reading » Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

1 » Five days after junior guard/forward DeVon Walker tore his ACL and four days after the news officially broke, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has addressed losing a key role player for the entire 2014-15 season. “DeVon had two years under his belt. He was really finding out who he was as a player and looking good at workouts,’ Donovan said in a story on the school’s website. “I feel terrible for him because he had worked so hard to get himself to this point.” Florida also announced that Walker, who tore the ligament during an individual workout, is scheduled to go under the knife at some point later this summer.

2 » According to The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the torn labrum suffered by Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is likely to keep him out up to eight weeks of the regular season, three more than initially predicted. Though Pouncey was only projected to miss the Dolphins’ first four games (the team has a bye week in week five), he is now a candidate to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season. Players on that list cannot return to their team until after the sixth game of the season. Pouncey will be included on the PUP list during training camp and into the preseason, but Miami will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep him on it before the first week of the regular season.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 16

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.

Unprecedented success

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).

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 16

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Jeremy Foley again throws full support behind Will Muschamp, talks Meyer, Spurrier, Donovan

In an appearance Thursday afternoon on ESPN Radio’s The Paul Finebaum Show, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley once again threw his full support behind head football coach Will Muschamp ahead of the 2014 season.

Muschamp, who last season led an injury-plagued Florida team to its worst record (4-8) since 1979, has been written about plenty this offseason as the top name on college football’s list of coaches on the proverbial hot seat.

Foley did not deny that Muschamp is facing a pressure situation in 2014 but had no problem making it clear that he trusted him to right the ship after it sunk just seven months earlier.

“If you’re not being successful in this business, you’re going to catch heat no matter what the sport is or who the coach is, and we understand that,” Foley explained.

“We hired Will three years ago now and felt very strongly about his capabilities and his talents. Certainly in year two, I think those were on full display when we finished 11-1. Last year didn’t go our way; we’ve never made any excuses about it. It’s not who we are. It’s not good enough. We need to get better and nobody understands that more than Will.

“It doesn’t change and didn’t change how we felt about him. If you feel strongly about somebody, sometimes you just got to take the heat and you got to go and be strong. That’s what we did there, and we’re excited for the future under Will’s leadership.

“He made some tough calls himself by making some changes in his coaching staff. Now we just got to go do it. The University of Florida is not a 4-8 program. That’s not who we are. We’re going to be better, and we’re excited about the future under Will. [We] feel the same way about him as the day we hired him.”

RELATED: Foley puts legacy on the line by sticking his neck out for Muschamp

Finebaum also asked Foley how difficult of a decision it was to ultimately keep Muschamp in the fold and not jettison him out of the program.

Continue Reading » Jeremy Foley again throws full support behind Will Muschamp, talks Meyer, Spurrier, Donovan

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has done an admirable job during his first two NBA Summer League games with the Memphis Grizzlies in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando Sentinel caught up with him on Sunday, and Wilbekin explained that he is doing well but having some difficulty adjusting to the limited minutes. The Grizzlies’ summer league coach, Shawn Respert, told the paper that he is pleased with what he’s seen from Wilbekin. “You can’t teach an overall IQ,” he said. “The guy plays with a pace that I think is healthy for a successful basketball team. He doesn’t force things. He knows when to push the gas pedal and when to push the brake. I think it’s just an innate ability that some players naturally have: to know how to play. With Scottie, I’m really proud of the fact of how he’s handled himself. He’s going to be very, very successful. He’s going to be a guy that, if you look in our league six or seven years down the road, he’s going to be an important part of a team that’s winning.”

Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.
Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Vernon Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan last week participated in the Southeastern Conference’s summer teleconference and spoke briefly about a couple of issues somewhat concerning the Gators. Below are some of Donovan’s thoughts from the media availability:

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Donovan, Crowder, Okine

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ESPN Forecast names Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan the best in college basketball

An ESPN-commissioned 45-member panel “that collectively possess[es] vast college basketball experience, knowledge and perspective” has spent the last five weeks breaking down the top 50 college basketball coaches in the country. On Thursday, the panel known as ESPN Forecast listed Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan as its No. 1 coach in the nation.

Though Eamonn Brennan, writing on behalf of the panel’s decision, does not state exactly why Donovan edged out the rest of the group in a head-to-head comparison – the remainder of the top five included Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino – a compelling case is made for how successful Donovan has been at Florida over the last five seasons.

Even though the departure of the Oh Fours and an about-face decision about leaving the Gators for the NBA were part of the reason the program missed back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2008 and 2009, UF has bounced back in a major way.

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