1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel on Sunday earned his second PGA Tour victory, his first in one year and five months, after shooting -14 and winning the 2014 BMW Championship. Just last week, Horschel choked on the 18th hole during his final round at the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship, finishing in a three-way tie for second behind Chris Kirk of Georgia. He did not make the same mistake on Sunday, shooting -1 over the final 12 holes to best two-time Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson, also a UGA alum. Horschel collected $1.44 million on Sunday to go along with the $579,000 he banked last week, bringing his season-long earnings to nearly $3.4 million.
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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DeVon Walker: A season over before it started
Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.
Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.
It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).
Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.
1 » Former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy is in the process of being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reports that he will be one piece of a four-player transaction between the teams. Cleveland will receive Murphy, John Lucas and Malcom Thomas in exchange for Carrick Felix, a future second-round pick and $1 million. The Cavaliers are in the process of acquiring non-guaranteed contracts in hopes of eventually trading for Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love, meaning Murphy could wind up being moved and/or waived again in the near future.
Murphy, who signed a two-year, $1.31 million rookie contract, is due a non-guaranteed salary of $816,482 in 2014-15 with a team option for $1.15 million in 2015-16. He was originally selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but was waived on April 3 as the team hoped to clear cap space. Utah nabbed him off the waiver wire two days later. While his NBA future is completely up in the air, Murphy will spend the summer competing for the Finnish national team in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.
Murphy played just 62 minutes over 24 games during his rookie season, averaging .231 on 13 field goal attempts and failing to drain any of his three attempts from beyond the arc. Playing for Utah in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, Nevada, Murphy was .333 from the field and .250 from long range.
2 » One day after injuring his leg during training camp, former Gators linebacker Darrin Kitchens was waived-injured by the Buffalo Bills. Kitchens, a long shot to make the team anyway, was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft.
1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.
Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”
1 » According to multiple reports Sunday afternoon, 10-year NBA veteran F Matt Bonner will re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs. Bonner, who made nearly $4 million in 2013-14 – the final season of a four-year, $13.9 million contract he signed back in 2010 – will play his ninth-straight campaign with San Antonio once terms of the deal are finalized. On Saturday, Bonner was in his native Concord, New Hampshire; he brought the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to Rundlett Middle School for his annual summer basketball camp. “It means a lot to me to bring the trophy here to Concord,” Bonner told the Concord Monitor. “it’s very symbolic. I literally grew up a block from [Rundlett], right down on South Street. So now, at the age of 34, to have the NBA Championship trophy come here, it kind of brings it all full circle.”
2 » Former Florida Gators center Patric Young has played well thus far in a pair of NBA Summer League games with the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas, Nevada. Coming off the bench in his first game on Friday, Young scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with 13 rebounds in 19 minutes but did cough up three turnovers. On Sunday, Young earned a start at power forward, finishing +25 after playing a team-high 29 minutes. He was 5-for-6 from the field, scoring 10 points with six boars, a block and only one turnover. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Philadelphia 76ers) nor F Erik Murphy (Utah Jazz) impressed in their debuts. Forward Casey Prather did not see the court with the Atlanta Hawks in his first game but chipped in four points on 2-of-4 shooting with a rebound, two steals and a block in 20 minutes on Sunday.
1 » With LeBron James’s decision to return to Cleveland now made, the reverberations will be felt throughout the NBA with two former Florida Gators players likely to be immediately affected. Forward Chandler Parsons, a Houston Rockets restricted free agent who signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, now looks to be headed back to Houston. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets now plan to match the Mavericks’ offer sheet. Houston must first compete trades to open up the necessary cap space to sign Chris Bosh; once Bosh has inked his deal, the Rockets can reacquire Parsons by using his Bird rights. A source told OnlyGators.com on Wednesday evening that Parsons preferred to continue his career in Dallas, though that same source told OnlyGators.com on Friday that Parsons is now very excited about the opportunity to play in a “Big Four” in Houston.
Update: Friday evening, Bosh spurned the Rockets and decided to remain with the Heat on a five-year, $118 million contract. How this affects Houston’s desire to match Parsons’s offer sheet with Dallas remains to be seen, though doing so would certainly eat into the Rockets’ potential 2015-16 cap space. Additionally, Parsons’s sheet includes an opt-out after year two as well as a 15 percent trade kicker.
2 » Also affected by James is F Mike Miller, who originally hoped to return to the Memphis Grizzlies to conclude his career. According to Wojnarowski, James reached out to Miller this week about potentially joining him in Cleveland. Miller is currently in negotiations with Memphis and the Denver Nuggets with teams like Oklahoma City also extremely interested in his services. He is seeking a three-year contract worth $4-5 million per season but could certainly accept a little less to reunite with James and potentially win more NBA titles before retirement.
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