Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Celtics and Pistons; return to Jacksonville

Through the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the ninth time from Jacksonville, Florida, having finally completed all 13 of his team visits ahead of the NBA Draft.

It feels really good to be home.

I flew back on Tuesday and actually took a flight with Johnny O’Bryant from Detroit to Atlanta and then we split ways and I got in my plane to Jacksonville. I was in coach – regular coach – not even the exit row. My knees were already touching – they were like jammed with the back of the chair. The lady in front of me, who was like 5’3”, kept trying to put her seat back into my knees even further. I did not want to say anything, so I had to keep my legs up there kind of fighting her off for like 15 minutes until she gave up and thought that it was not going to be moving back for her.

Before I was able to come home though, I had two more visits at the start of this week with the Boston Celtics on Monday and Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. I was feeling tired entering the Boston workout but just tried to go with whatever I had left in the tank over the final two days. In all, I completed 13 workouts in 28 days.

Continue Reading » Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Celtics and Pistons; return to Jacksonville

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TWO BITS: Pierce “Tebowing,” tennis in NCAAs

1 » Near the end of the Boston Celtics’s Game 2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs on Tuesday, forward Paul Pierce made a free throw late in the first quarter and celebrated by “Tebowing” on his way back to his team’s bench. Up seven with 1:15 left in the game, it was probably a bit early for Pierce to perform the move though Boston wound up beating Atlanta and tying the series 1-1.

2 » Florida Gators women’s and men’s tennis each learned of their seedings for their respective 2012 NCAA Tournaments on Tuesday. The No. 2 women’s team, making its 30th tournament appearance and looking for its sixth national title, received the second seed in their bracket and will play hosts to some first- and second-round matches May 11-12. Florida captured the tournament championship last season in thrilling fashion and is ready to defend its title. The No. 11 men’s team, competing in its 21st NCAA Tournament but still trying to win its first national crown, earned the 12th seed and will also host first- and second-round action May 12-13.

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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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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: First week of workouts begins in Miami

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.

Hanging out in his hotel room in Miami, FL across from the AmericanAirlines Arena, Parsons got in touch with us Tuesday just before game one of the 2011 NBA Finals got underway. Too tired to go out after yet another flight, Parsons was resting up for his Wednesday workout with the Miami Heat and a number of other trips he will be taking over the next three weeks. He will be all over the country throughout the next month but will continue checking in with us each week.

After the Minnesota workout, I spent a couple days in Chicago – I always go back there to get ready with the same guys – [trainer] Josh Oppenheimer and [strength coach] Ryan Thompson. We basically just trained and went over the same things: sharpened up my shot, getting a lot of shots up, keeping my conditioning up. Nothing crazy.

The training part of things kind of slows down now, especially with my schedule coming up. Basically I’m just staying in the gym, going to bed early and eating right.

I had my workout with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, so I left for Texas on Thursday. It went really well. Out of all my workouts so far, I think that was the best. I shot the ball really well, competed really well. It was me, DeAndre Liggins from Kentucky and Nikola Vucevic from Southern Cal against Marcus Morris (of Kansas), Iman Shelpert from Georgia Tech and Jimmy Butler from Marquette. We won every game, went 5-0 in the three-on-three games and [I] really shot the ball well. I had the best shooting numbers there and just really thought I played all-around great that workout.

Each workout is very similar in the stuff we do, but some teams keep you longer and others do more stuff. You basically stretch, play a lot of one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three – a lot of competitive stuff. In San Antonio, we played three-on-three but you can’t dribble, then three-on-three with one dribble, then three-on-three unlimited dribbles. There’s a lot of spot shooting, on-the-move shooting and things like that.

My Oklahoma City [workout] was only 45 minutes, but the San Antonio one was double that. It’s fun because you’re competing and you’re playing; it’s not boring drills, you’re actually going out there and playing. So it is fun, but some last longer than others.

After that, my agent told me I had the weekend off until the Miami Heat workout on Wednesday, so I went back to Gainesville and worked out with the coaching staff there until it was time to head south.

The next two weeks for me are going to be brutal [with six workouts in 10 days]. From now until the 10th, I won’t stop traveling. It’s definitely going to be tough but, like I’ve said before, this is what I’ve been working for…it’s a situation that I want to be in, so it’s definitely fun and exciting at the same time.

OGGOA FAN QUESTION OF THE WEEK

NICOLE S.: Through all of the workouts and events you have been participating in while getting ready for the NBA Draft, have you met anyone that has made you awe-struck or thought back to watching them on television growing up?
PARSONS: There’s been a few. When I walked into the hotel room in Chicago to check in [for the NBA Combine], I turn around and Larry Bird is behind me in line. Six other Indiana Pacers are signed with the same agency as I am, so my agent knows them real well. I got to meet him and talk to him. That was really cool; he’s obviously one of the best players ever. That was a “wow.” To even hear him say my name and hear him say “good job” and stuff was cool. I’m working out with the wings and Scottie Pippen is right there on the sideline, Mike D’Antoni is right there on the sideline. When I met with the [Boston] Celtics, Danny Ainge was in there. My agent just called me before I got here and told me Pat Riley will 100 percent be at my workout [Wednesday].

Go Gators,

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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,

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FOUR BITS: Ingram, Noah, James, Harvin

1 » ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen reported Thursday that former Florida Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram has returned to the Philadelphia Eagles – the team that drafted him in 2009 and cut him earlier this year – as a member of the practice squad. Ingram was expected to make an impact for the Eagles this season but was limited once again with a knee injury that forced him to miss a lot of training camp. He hopes to earn his way back on the team through the practice squad but could theoretically be signed off of it by another organization at any time.

2 » OGGOA had some choice words about Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett on our Twitter account last week. It seems Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah somewhat agrees with our sentiments as he called out Garnett on the radio on Wednesday. “Kevin Garnett will not – will not – get a Christmas gift from me,” Noah said jokingly. “I don’t like him. He’s a very mean guy. Where’s the love? None at all. Ugly, too. I had his poster in my room. I used to wear his jersey. And the truth is, my rookie year, I was in admiration of the guy and he kind of shut me down. And he was very mean to me my rookie year. And he’s only mean to the young guys and the [European players] for some reason. I don’t know why, but that’s who he doesn’t like. He’s not nice. I talk a lot of trash out there, but c’mon, be a little sensitive. Be sweet.” Though Noah says a lot of things tongue-in-cheek and likes to joke around, he does consider Garnett a “dirty player” who “is who he is.”

3 » According to the Indianapolis Star, former Gators wide receiver/kick returner Brandon James has been promoted from the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad to their active roster effective immediately. James will (at least temporarily) fill WR Austin Collie’s roster spot while he recovers from a concussion sustained last weekend. Though he may not see the field as a receiver unless one of the Colts’ current starters gets injured, James may be able to see the field as soon as Sunday as the team’s kick returner. Keep your eyes peeled on Indianapolis’ game this weekend and look for a 5’7”, 170 lb. speed demon – especially on special teams.

4 » Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin missed practice yesterday after coming down with another migraine headache. Harvin, who dealt with severe bouts in the offseason but was able to get things under control after meeting with doctors and learning that he suffered from sleep apnea, is still expected to play this weekend. He is still recovering from an injured ankle but that did not stop him from posting a career-high 126 receiving yards last week while limping around.

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NBA season begins, Gators look to make impact

The 2010-11 NBA season tipped off Tuesday night with nine former Florida Gators standouts on professional rosters. Some won National Championships while wearing the Orange & Blue, others went undrafted, but all want to prove that the Florida basketball program has and can produce legitimate NBA stars.

Al Horford, F/C, Atlanta Hawks
2009-10: Averaging career highs in points (14.2), rebounds (9.9), field goal percentage (55.1), free throw percentage (78.9) and minutes (35.1), Horford also contributed 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game last year. For the second-straight season he led his team to the second round of the NBA Playoffs where, like in 2008-09, they were swept.
2010-11: The Godfather was named a captain in Atlanta during the preseason and will be a restricted free agent when the year ends. The Hawks are believed to be making a concerted effort to resign the first-time NBA All-Star and No. 3 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft to a five-year deal worth $50-60 million.

Joakim Noah, F/C, Chicago Bulls
2009-10: Averaging a double-double with career highs in points (10.7), rebounds (11.0), blocks (1.6), assists (2.1), free throw percentage (74.4) and minutes (30.1), Noah was also good for 2.1 assists per game and shot 50.4 percent from the field. He missed 28 games with a plantar fasciitis injury but regained his form before the playoffs, which saw Chicago fall in the first round.
2010-11: Noah was rewarded by the Bulls for his hard work with a five-year, $60 million extension in the offseason. His defense and shot blocking makes him an elite big man in the league and, with Chicago adding All-Star forward Carlos Boozer to the frontcourt, some of the pressure he felt to do everything for the team defensively may be relived.

David Lee, F/C, Golden State Warriors
2009-10: Averaging a double-double for the second-straight season with the New York Knicks, Lee posted career-highs in points (20.2), assists (3.6), blocks (0.5) and free throw percentage (81.2) along with 11.7 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent. A fan favorite who was a victim of circumstance due to the blockbuster free agents available this summer, Lee was moved to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade.
2010-11: Agreeing a six-year, $80 million contract with Golden State, Lee will once again play for an up-tempo offense in which he will be able to shine. Though he will not be relied upon as heavily with the Warriors as he was with the Knicks, Lee will have ample opportunities to showcase his talent on the left coast.

Profiles for six more former Gators basketball players…after the jump!
Continue Reading » NBA season begins, Gators look to make impact

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Austin Rivers – finally – drops Florida from list

Just over five months after decommitting from the Florida Gators, the team which he promised to play for as a freshman in high school, five-star 2011 guard Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) has completely dropped them from his recruitment list.

At the time of his decommitment, Rivers called attending Florida “still a very possible option for me,” noting that he made the decision in order to open his eyes to other choices. When Rivers made it clear a day later that he wanted to go to a “program where it’s the big stage,” explaining that he committed to the Gators “right after they won two national championships when they were prime time,” it became obvious his eyes had wandered elsewhere.

Especially considering, just six months earlier, Rivers was not even wavering in his commitment, at least according to his father and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. “[Florida is] where he wants to go. He’s going to Florida,” Doc said at the time. “There’s no doubt about that. He’s committed there. He’s a Florida kid.’’

From the get go, word was that Rivers had fallen in love with the Duke Blue Devils. This became apparent a month after his decommitment, when he raved about Duke’s ability to develop players, calling the Blue Devils “the lead school for me right now.”

In a conversation with Scout.com on Wednesday, Rivers officially ruled Florida out. “I have my three schools: It’s Kansas, North Carolina and Duke,” he said. “I’m planning to visit all three of them. Some of them I’ll go alone and some I’ll go with my family. […] Basically those are the three schools that I really like. I like their style of play, their success and that they win and they get guys to the next level.”

Photo Credit: ESPN Rise

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