SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

1 » Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews and softball player Jenn Brown, just over one year ago, were both working as sideline reports for ESPN with the former taking on a bunch of other duties as well. Neither remains with the network today, but Andrews and Brown each have a great opportunity to shine with their new company. Andrews, who was hired by FOX Sports last July, spent 2012 sitting at a studio desk as host of a primetime college football pre-game show while also serving as a sideline reporter for major sports events including the MLB postseason. According to SB Nation, her duties will increase this season with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Andrews will move from the primetime half-hour show to hosting a new college football pregame show that will air on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, going head-to-head with ESPN’s College GameDay. Before leaving ESPN, Andrews was given hosting duties for the first hour of College GameDay, which aired from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU.

Brown, after spending a short stint working with NBC, has signed a deal with the NFL Network, according to The Big Lead. She will start appearing on-air Thursday when she hosts the network’s Total Access show though the breath of her duties is currently unknown. “I’m thrilled to get back to the NFL,” she told the website. “The first sports job I had was on Inside the NFL. Covering college football for ESPN was a great time and I learned a lot, but it’s good to get back to the NFL.”

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears sat down with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons to discuss what OnlyGators.com reported almost three weeks ago – Parsons’s role in luring free agent center Dwight Howard to Houston. “I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.,” Parsons explained. “We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. [Howard would] call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he’d call me at midnight with the same question. … I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We’re always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends.” Parsons also talks about his pitch, being involved in the official meeting and where he was when he learned Howard chose the Rockets.

Read and watch four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Morrison, USA, Calathes, Pouncey

1 » Florida Gators sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison and head coach Will Muschamp – and even Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel – get the Taiwanese animation treatment in this video about Morrison’s two arrests in five weeks.

2 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal are joining 26 other players on Monday to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp in Las Vegas, NV. Though Parsons does not have much experience competing internationally, Beal was involved with USA Basketball as a high schooler and has represented his country before. Both men will have the opportunity to impress head coach Mike Krzyzewski from July 22-25 in hopes of earning placement on the 2013-16 U.S. Men’s National Team that will participate in international competitions, qualifiers and eventually the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately for Beal, he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg and is not expected to be able to participate in contact drills during the camp.

3 » ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein reported late Sunday night that the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies are in “advanced discussions on a trade” that would send former Florida Gators point guard Nick Calathes‘s rights from Dallas to Memphis in exchange for future draft considerations. Calathes, a second-round selection by the Mavericks in the 2009 NBA Draft, has never played in the NBA. He has spent the last four years playing basketball in Greece (2009-2012) and Russia (2012) and was named the 2013 Eurocup Most Valuable Player after leading his team, Lokomotiv Kuban, to a championship while averaging 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. UPDATE: Calathes’s rights were officially traded Monday afternoon. It is currently unknown if or when the Grizzlies will bring him to the league.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Morrison, USA, Calathes, Pouncey

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Murphy, Donovan, Parsons

1 » The Miami Heat officially announced Tuesday that the team has decided to use the amnesty provision on guard Mike Miller, waiving the remaining two years and $12.8 million of his contract in order to save approximately $17 million on the team’s luxury tax bill in 2013-14. Miller, who will earn every penny of his $12.8 million whether another team bids on him during the wavier period or not, is now without a team but does not plan to quit playing basketball. “I’m excited about the next spot. I’m re-energized. I really am,” he told the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday. “I’m just feeling healthy. I’m ready to play. I started [to] get back in there again last week and I can’t wait to play next year.” Entering his 14th NBA season, Miller has not played more than 20 minutes per game in two years. After posting double-digit scoring averages in nine of his first 10 seasons, Miller has not scored more than 6.1 points per game since 2009-10. His best chance of continuing his career is as a reserve with a contender looking for a three-point shooter.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy has gone through his share of ups and downs already while in Las Vegas, NV, competing in NBA Summer League action. Murphy went 0-for-6 from three in his first game, picking up 10 fouls and therefore fouling out in under 19 minutes, but responded by going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc for 18 points (and committing seven more fouls) in the second game. His hot shooting continued Tuesday as Murphy was 2-for-3 from the perimeter (with no fouls) when he was forced to leave the game after breaking his nose. It was actually the second time this week that Murphy broke his nose as he told OnlyGators.com late Tuesday night that it previously happened during practice a few days earlier. He hopes to continue playing in summer league games but will do as instructed by team trainers.

Also on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the Bulls’ team website about Murphy and explained how he can fit in with the team. You can read the entire story by clicking here.

“The one thing about Erik is that when he’s on the floor, offensively he immediately provides spacing for your team because you have to account for him behind the line. Obviously [Derrick] Rose is as good of a player in the backcourt as any player in the league. He’s a great penetrator, so the more space he can play in, the better off he is going to be.

“Erik is not Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah; he’s different and he brings something different to the table. He’s a pick-and-pop guy, someone you can space behind the line. He’s a guy you can run pick and roll with and he’ll put some teams into dilemmas because they can’t switch on him and put their power forward on someone like Rose.”

Watch two Florida Gators VIDEO BITS…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Grow, Murphy, Parsons, Horford, Hernandez, Lee, Haslem

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Monty Grow, best known for a vicious hit on West Virginia quarterback Darren Studstill during the 1994 Sugar Bowl [Video], was arrested Sunday night on child abuse charges after leaving a three-year-old girl unattended in a car outside the Diamond Dolls strip club in Redington Beach, FL. The girl’s mother had tracked her via GPS in his car and called the police when she realized that her daughter was stationary at that location for an extended period of time. Grow, 41, left the girl in the car for approximately 20 minutes; he ran up to the car upon leaving the club and admitted to leaving her unattended, telling police he was just making a quick stop inside to collect money that was owed to him by an employee of the strip club. He was released on $5,000 bail on Monday. Grow played at Florida from 1989-1993 but was suspended for the 1991 season after testing positive for steroids. He played two years in the NFL after leaving college.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy put together a much-improved showing during his second NBA Summer League game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-of-5 from three) in 33:37 on Monday night. Murphy was 0-for-6 from downtown in his first game and has now picked up 17 fouls in 52 combined minutes over his two contests.

3 » Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons is getting a lot of attention for his style as of late. A viral video attempt by the sports management company that represents him, Relativity Sports, takes a comical look at how obsessed some are with Parsons’s hair.

Read three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
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FOUR VIDEO BITS: Williams, Noah, Taylor

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Jason Williams, a 12-year NBA veteran, retired during the 2010-11 season but is still displaying his signature flare in exhibition games. Competing in China during a USA Legends Tour game this month, Williams looked like the young “White Chocolate” when he successfully made a fastbreak elbow pass for a dunk, just like he did during the 2000 NBA Rookie Game.


2 » Competing in the Steve Nash Foundation Showdown in Chinatown on June 26 in New York, NY – a celebrity soccer event that benefits underserved children affected by poverty, illness, abuse or neglect – Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah scored the game-winning goal and celebrated in typical fashion. (Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons will participate in the west coast version of the game on Sunday, July 14.) Speaking of Noah, he and Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford will participate in the 2013 Basketball Without Borders program this summer. Noah, Horford and six other players will visit Johannesburg, South Africa, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 to coach and lead life seminars.

Continue Reading » FOUR VIDEO BITS: Williams, Noah, Taylor

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Parsons helped sway Howard to Rockets

After a surprising rookie season and breakout sophomore campaign, forward Chandler Parsons has made plenty of Houston Rockets fans happy by scoring more than his fair share of points and dishing some important dimes over the last two years.

But his biggest assist to date came this past week when Parsons played a major role in recruiting free agent center Dwight Howard to Houston, sources confirmed to OnlyGators.com and FORBES on Saturday.

A source close to the situation spoke with FORBES sports business writer Darren Heitner on Saturday and confirmed that not only was Parsons involved in the Rockets’ initial pitch to Howard, he went above and beyond following that meeting to ensure that Howard picked Houston when he came to his final decision.

“Chandler was relentless,” the source said. “[Chandler] called and texted [Dwight] every day, even face-timed and would answer every question Dwight could potentially have. We would drive to his house in the hills and talk to him. Basically Chandler Parsons recruited him like Nick Saban and a five-star defensive tackle; they hardly knew each other at the beginning of the process.”

That source contends “there is no one on the Rockets more responsible for [Dwight] in Houston than Chandler,” noting that Parsons’s outlined to Howard how he would have the best chance to win with the Rockets compared to his other suitors.

Parsons, who is away on vacation in Mexico and therefore did not return a text message seeking comment from OnlyGators.com, was simply an acquaintance of Howard prior to free agency. Growing up in Orlando, FL, Parsons would bump into Howard when he returned home in the offseason, so the two were familiar with each other.

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FOUR BITS: NBA free agents, USA, Tyus, Parsons

1 » Center Marreese Speights is not the only former Florida Gators player making news at the start of free agency for the 2013-14 NBA season. According to Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Golden State Warriors have put power forward David Lee on the trading block. Though Lee had a fantastic season for Golden State, averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game on his way to the second All-Star nod of his career, he has three years and $44 million left on a maximum contract he signed two years ago. Joining Speights on the market early Monday morning was F Corey Brewer, who averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 24.4 minutes per game during the 2012-13 season with the Denver Nuggets. The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that the Houston Rockets will be meeting with Brewer soon in Los Angeles, CA. Also likely on the move this offseason is point guard Nick Calathes, who has yet to play in the NBA but still has his rights held by the Dallas Mavericks, which drafted him with a second-round pick in 2009. Dallas recently signed an Israeli player at Calathes’s position, making “it very likely” that his rights will be traded, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon.

2 » USA Basketball started competing in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship over the weekend, finishing 3-0 in the preliminary round with three blowout victories. The Americans, led by Gators head coach Billy Donovan, defeated Ivory Coast 88-29 on Thursday, China 113-57 on Friday and Russia 115-47 on Saturday. Donovan is now 8-0 all-time in international competitions with last week’s 61-point average margin of victory leading the United States to a win in Group D and a spot in the second group stage. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier II struggled with his shooting a bit during the three games. In 17:49 against Ivory Coast, Frazier went 1-for-8 (0-for-4 from three) for two points with five rebounds. In 19:24 against China, he had his best game by going 5-of-13 (4-of-11 from downtown) for 15 points. Facing Russia, Frazier finished 5-for-12 (2-for-8 from long range) with 12 points, three boards and two assists.

3 » Former Gators F Alex Tyus on Monday inked a three-year, $1.1 million deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv and will return to Israel (where he is a member of the national team) after a one-season stint in Russia with Pallacanestro Cantu. He averaged 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds during the 2012-13 campaign but fared better in the Israeli League as he posted averages of 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during the 2011-12 season. Tyus, who converted to Judaism in 2011 before signing with Maccabi Ashdod out of college, could remain with Maccabi Tel Aviv through the 2015-16 season as the third year of the contract is a club option.

4 » The Rockets are believed to be the front runners to land C Dwight Howard, the top free agent available during the 2013 offseason, and Houston is using former Florida F Chandler Parsons as a big part of its pitch. According to the Houston Chronicle, Parsons “speaks often with Howard” and discusses not just the Rockets’ success on the court but also the chemistry in the locker room. “We have great guys,” Parsons told the paper. “We don’t have any egos. We don’t’ have any cocky, arrogant guys. We have guys with the same mindset and same attitude. We genuinely all like each other and enjoy playing together. All of us text back and forth pretty much every day. Whether it’s us joking around or us talking about what we’re doing to get better or trying to get together in the same city for group workouts, we’re always looking for ways to get better and stay in touch and keep that relationship most teams don’t have. We’re all friends. We’re all thinking about each other.”

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

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