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.

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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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FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

1 » ESPN.com’s Chad Ford took an early look at the prospects potentially available in the 2015 NBA Draft and had a number of Florida Gators on his top-100 list. Leading the way at No. 13 overall is forward/center Chris Walker, who is projected to be a lottery selection. He is followed by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill (No. 29), junior guard Michael Frazier II (No. 65) and redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith (No. 67). Walker has already decided to turn pro after the 2014-15 season, though Hill will need to take a major step forward if he hopes to leave after his second campaign. Frazier and Finney-Smith will likely remain at Florida for their senior seasons.

2 » Power forward Udonis Haslem chose not to exercise his player option of $4.6 million with the Miami Heat, the second time in his career that he has left money on the table to help the club have increased flexibility in free agency. The last time Haslem made a similar maneuver, he gave up $10 million in salary to re-sign with Miami instead of take a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Halsem, now 34, is near the end of his NBA career. He averaged a career-low 14.2 minutes per game during the regular season and played less than 11 minutes on average in the 2013-14 postseason. Rather than take the chunk salary of $4.6 million he is due as an option, he is expected to sign a multi-year deal for a larger amount (but lower annual salary) that will be paid out over three or four seasons. Chances are Haslem will retire before seeing the end of his contract and be given a role in the Heat organization while still being paid by the franchise. He will be entering his 12th season in 2014-15.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

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Florida Gators C Patric Young, PG Scottie Wilbekin set to play in NBA Summer League

Though no Florida Gators were selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, it did not take long for two of the team’s most accomplished eligible players – center Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin – to receive opportunities to compete in the NBA Summer Leagues over the next few weeks.

Young, who was unanimously projected as an early second-round pick before surprisingly going undrafted, told OnlyGators.com on Friday afternoon that he has agreed to play for the New Orleans Pelicans from July 11-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Young did not participate in a workout with the Pelicans but did visit with the team during the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Combine back in May.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators C Patric Young, PG Scottie Wilbekin set to play in NBA Summer League

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Patric Young leads three Florida Gators not selected in 2014 NBA Draft

The Florida Gators, with a core group that brought the team to three-straight Elite Eights and a Final Four this past season, did not have any of their three seniors selected on Thursday in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Regarded as an early second-round pick entering the draft, center Patric Young was expected to be selected between picks 25-40 but did not get chosen among the 60 players drafted on Thursday. Young, who averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest, was the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin, the 2014 SEC Player of the Year, nor forward Casey Prather were selected, though both entered the draft projected as undrafted free agents. Forward Will Yeguete, who was also draft-eligible, did not participate in the process.

Young, Wilbekin and Prather each came with their share of concerns. For Young, who was one of 60 players invited to the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Combine, issues concerning his offensive game and range likely came into play.

Wilbekin was seen as an undersized floor general who also had to answer plenty of questions about off-court troubles that got him suspended twice during his collegiate career. Though athletic, Prather is seen as a player without a jump shot and very much a work in progress as he did not truly blossom until his senior season.

Continue Reading » Patric Young leads three Florida Gators not selected in 2014 NBA Draft

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FOUR BITS: Nelson, Bucs, ESPYS, Zunino

1 » The New York Post’s Brian Costello believes David Nelson is poised to open the 2014 season as the New York Jets’s No. 2 wide receiver after evaluating him during organized team activities and minicamp. Nelson, who missed nearly the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL and was cut by Cleveland in the 2013 offseason as he mounted a return, signed with New York four weeks into the campaign. He finished with 36 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns while catching passes from underwhelming rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Nelson has proven to be a reliable target in the NFL, catching 62 percent of the passes thrown his way in his three full seasons despite never even having a mid-tier signal caller throwing him the ball.

2 » With running back Jeff Demps, WR Louis Murphy, WR Solomon Patton and safety Major Wright all on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster, the latter three signed as free agents this offseason, suddenly the team has four former Florida Gators playing just over 150 miles from Gainesville, Florida. The Buccaneers recognized this and put together an interview / highlight video [Watch] with the three former Gators who are teammates for the first time since winning the 2009 BCS Championship.

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Joakim Noah named to All-NBA First Team

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team, on Wednesday was named to the five-member All-NBA First Team.

Noah is the first player in the history of the Florida Gators men’s basketball program to accomplish each of the aforementioned feats and was the second ever to win an NBA year-end award, joining guard Mike Miller (Rookie of the Year in 2000-01, Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06). He is the third former Florida player to be named to an All-NBA team, following third-team honorees Al Horford (2011) and David Lee (2013).

A Most Valuable Player candidate, Noah appeared on 80.8 percent of ballots (101-of-125) for first-team All-NBA, joining Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James and Chris Paul on the team.

Noah averaged 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game during the regular season, registering four triple-doubles and 47 double-doubles while playing in 80 of 82 games.

He became just the fourth center in NBA history with four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season (Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Bill Russell) and is also the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: DeSclafani, Muschamp, Frazier, Noah

1 » Former Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani got the call on Tuesday. He will make his first appearance in the big leagues Wednesday night as the starting hurler for the Miami Marlins. DeSclafani, who has posted a 3-4 record and 4.19 ERA in eight starts with the Jacksonville Suns of the Double-A Southern League, is being brought up to the majors as a replacement for ace Jose Fernandez (torn UCL) in Miami’s rotation. Whether he remains with the Marlins for the duration of the season will be determined at a later date, though Kevin Slowey and/or Brad Hand could wind up taking Fernandez’s spot in the rotation. “He’s a guy that’s done well in the minor leagues and we felt like he was probably the most ready to make the start,” manager Mike Redmond said of DeSclafani, according to ESPN.com. “Out of all of our younger guys, he’s probably a little more polished because he’s a college guy and he’s got a few more innings under his belt, as far as experience.”

2 » Continuing his tour of Gator Clubs across the state, Gators head coach Will Muschamp stopped in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday and once again touched on a number of topics. While he did not specifically talk about cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson not being selected in the 2014 NFL Draft last week, he did discuss the subject in a roundabout way. “[NFL teams] are going to watch the film. They’re not watching the combine workout. They’re not listening to some street agent and what they think you are. And they dang sure ain’t watching some show to figure out where to draft people,” he said, according to Rivals.com‘s Bryan Holt ($). “They’re going to watch film, and the players who do well and perform on film, those guys get drafted – especially the ones that are clean. They need to learn for themselves as much as anything. That’s something each individual needs to take on his own responsibility.”

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