1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker is quickly making his way around Europe, announcing Monday that he has signed with JDA Dijon Basket of the ProA league in France. It is the third professional team Walker has played for since leaving Florida. He first signed with Veroli Basket out of Italy’s Legadue in the summer of 2012, averaging 17.9 points and 3.6 assists in 20 games with the club. He then inked a deal to play in Poland with Basket Zielona Góra but only lasted about three months with the team. During his stay, he averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists in 28 games spread between the EuroCup, Euroleague and Polish League. Walker finished out the 2013-14 season with Elan Chalon out of the LNB Pro A league in France where he saw 19.2 minutes per game, posting 9.0 points and 2.1 assists per contest.
Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-3) was riding high on Saturday as the team prepared to play in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the AT&T Center in Arlington, TX. There was so much written about the team by former and current student-athletes, in fact, that this post had to be limited to those either with ties to the basketball program or in attendance at the game.
Though the (7) UConn Huskies (31-8) were victorious and eliminated Florida from the event, there was still plenty of well-wishers after the contest. Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game.
Gameday 4 me today and 4 my gators in the final 4
— Erving Walker (@ErvWalker11) April 5, 2014
Where my #Gators at?! Who's in dallas for the Final Four?!
— David Nelson (@DavidNelson86) April 5, 2014
This game can't come fast enough! Ready to watch my Gators advance to the Final!! #gatorbait
— matt walsh (@mattyvincent44) April 5, 2014
Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.
Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.
This team is special. I thank God for everything this team has accomplished. God is so good thank you for allowing us to be #FINALFOURBOUND
— Patric Young (@BigPatYoung4) March 30, 2014
1 » Despite ending their 2013 NCAA Tournament run in the Elite Eight for the third-straight year, Florida Gators basketball was placed at No. 9 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 poll of the 2012-13 season. Florida was not the only Elite Eight team to fall outside the top eight of the poll, however, as Marquette checked in at No. 11 in the final rankings. Indiana (Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse) and Kansas (Sweet 16 loss to Michigan) took the two other spots in the top eight. The Gators also checked in at No. 9 and No. 10 in 2011-12 and 2010-11, respectively, after losing in the Elite Eight. Florida will likely enter the 2013-14 campaign ranked in the preseason top-10.
2 » No. 2 Gators women’s tennis (17-2, 10-1 SEC) ran through its competition over the weekend, extending their winning streaks to 10 consecutive team matches and 30-straight individual matches. Florida swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-10, 4-6 SEC) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-12, 1-10 SEC) in a pair of home showdowns over the weekend at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The Gators won all 11 matches and had the opportunity to celebrate Senior Day against the Bulldogs on Sunday. Seniors No. 1 Lauren Embree and No. 125 Caroline Hitimana were each unable to finish their singles matches due to Florida registering a quick 4-0 victory but both won their doubles contests. The No. 20 duo of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen picked up an 8-2 win, while Hitimana and junior Alex Cercone won 8-0.
On Monday, head coach Roland Thornqvist praised Embree at his press conference, making note of her incredible career and tremendous work ethic. “You want to know why Lauren Embree is the best college player to ever play the game?” he asked rhetorically. “It was Monday morning at 8:30, and after a weekend full of matches and practices, she runs to the courts, hits serves for 30 minutes, then I show up and we go at it [on the court] for an hour and 15 minutes. By 10:00, she’s done with two workouts already while the rest of tennis America is still sleeping. That’s why we’re good and that’s why she’s good. She sets the tone, the bar is high, and I think everybody feeds off of it. We’ve just been blessed to have that for four years. Frankly, it’s just amazing.” The Gators women’s tennis program is hoping to win its third-straight national title.
Read four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow
For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2012 (check out Monday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From crazy occurrences and strange decisions to receiving major awards and being involved in the biggest sports stories of the last 12 months, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 Off the Field Stories of the Year.
12 » A WACKY YEAR, INDEED
For every major story and exciting moment that occurred in 2012, there were plenty of instances in which Gators fans could not do anything but shake their heads, furrow their brows or shrug their shoulders at something they just saw or heard. Below is a list-within-a-list of the 10 most absurd moments of the year (sorted chronologically). Don’t worry, the rest of these stories are much shorter, so keep reading.
(1) Right in the middle of spring practice on Feb. 17, with coaches raving about team chemistry and noting massive improvement from the previous year, junior safety Matt Elam tweeted out a picture that looks like junior defensive end Dominique Easley riding his scooter inside the Florida football facility and around the Gator Head the players touch before heading out to the field each week. (2) One week after playing his last game as a member of the Gators basketball team, then-senior point guard Erving Walker found himself in trouble with the law when he was charged on March 30 with two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing a taco from a street vendor and evading police in Gainesville, FL. (3) Need a lesson on how to turn off an employer? Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney went off on an epic Twitter rant on April 12, sending out derogatory statements about his wife and cousin (fellow former Gators star cornerback Lito Sheppard) only to claim three hours later that his account was hacked. (4) What better way to honor your favorite player than to get your hair cut and designed to look like him? That’s what San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez did for forward Matt Bonner. Gonzalez’s hair cut nearly got him suspended from school on May 16, but it also got Bonner’s attention and resulted in a pair of tickets and a meeting at a playoff game. (5) After some rather mundane barbs went back-and-forth between Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin over the summer, Mayor Nancy Berry of College Station, TX decided to post a comedic video of her poking good-natured fun at the former Texas defensive coordinator on June 1.
(6) Hours after taking home the first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history on June 10, Gators track & field suffered a serious scare in the air when its plane suffered a cracked windshield at 37,000 feet and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL. The windshield shattered after the plane landed but everyone was OK. (7) How do you answer a quarterback controversy and answer questions about which signal caller is going to start the first game of the season? Start both of them! That’s what Muschamp did on Sept. 1 when sophomores Jacoby Brissett (quarterback) and Jeff Driskel (wide receiver) both came out with the starting offense on its first play from scrimmage against Bowling Green. (8) With Muschamp leading the team, he is sure to find his way on this list at least once per year. In a 13-day span, Muschamp made headlines by being himself. After Florida defeated LSU at home on Dec. 7, he decided to celebrate by crowd surfing over his own players in the locker room. Two weeks later, at halftime against South Carolina, Muschamp vented his frustration about the officiating to Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network. He saw an official walking by as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms and made sure to make it known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” (9) With ESPN’s College GameDay in Gainesville for the South Carolina game, having former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte on set as the guest picker was an easy and obvious decision for the network. Never did ESPN guess that he would find difficulty in reading off the list of picks provided for him. (10) Why is Chad Johnson in Gainesville … and why is he meeting with Florida? Those were questions fans asked on Nov. 2 when it was revealed that the NFL free agent wide receiver – fresh off being embarrassed on national television when he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly hitting his wife – had shown up in town and was taking pictures with players on the team one day before UF took on Missouri.
Societa Veroli Basket announced over the weekend that it has signed former Florida Gators point guard Erving Walker to play for the team this season. Known more commonly as Prima Veroli, the team plays in Legadue Basket (Lega2 Basket), which is the second-highest division of professional basketball in Italy.
In the release (translated), Prima Veroli says the head coach “has decided to again focus on a rookie for the direction of the team” and that acquiring Walker “scored a major hit against the competition of different teams that were [in] on the American talent.”
The team added that working with Walker’s Italian agent Matteo Comellini on a contract was a breeze (it has already been signed) and that it hopes Walker is in uniform by Aug. 20 after he completes the necessary visa paperwork.
Walker, who played more minutes than anyone in the history of Florida basketball, set the program’s career assist mark (547) before graduating and left the team ranked second in three-pointers made (285) and fourth on the all-time scoring list (1,777 points).
It is the second-straight year that a former Gators player has signed to play overseas after forward Alex Tyus played professionally for Maccabi Ashdod of Israel’s second league during the 2011-12 season. He averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds over the course of the season and was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Tyus will join Walker in Italy this season after signing a two-year, $525,000 deal to play for Pallacanestro Cantu of the Euroleague, which is known as the highest tier of international club basketball in Europe. He also received his Israeli passport and has begun training with Israel’s national team.
Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons, after being selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, also played for Cholet Basket of the French Pro A League last season during the NBA lockout.
1 » Former Florida Gators point guard and current NBA undrafted free agent Erving Walker is one of a few players featured in a new commercial by Nike promoting the Nike Hyperdunk+ shoe system. Check it out below (thanks to OGGOA reader Alex A.):
2 » College Station, TX mayor Nancy Berry made waves in June when the City of College Station posted a comedic video online featuring her poking good-natured fun at Florida head coach Will Muschamp after he took a jab at her city over the spring during a Gator Gathering. At the 2012 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday, Muschamp told ESPN that he found plenty of humor in her multimedia retort (video below). “I thought it was really funny,” he said. “I thought it was great. It’s good that nobody’s so sensitive. Mayor Berry has a great sense of humor.” He added that his wife, Carol, loved it as well. “I’ve seen her laugh hard several times in our life and that’s one of the hardest I’ve ever seen her laugh.”
Round 1 – No. 3
Bradley Beal, G
Round 1 – No. 3
Height: 6’4 ¾” – Weight: 202 lbs.
Age: 19 – Class: Freshman
Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal did not have to wait long see his dream come true on Thursday evening as he was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards.
Beal only played at Florida for one season but quickly became the Gators most important player. He played a team-high 34.2 minutes per game and averaged 14.8 points (second-most on the team) while registering team-highs of 6.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals. He only got better in the postseason, leading Florida to the Elite Eight by shooting 60.5 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from downtown in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school, Beal received plenty of awards from the Southeastern Conference throughout his freshman campaign. He won SEC Freshman of the Week six times and was named to the All-SEC first team and SEC All-Freshman Team by the league’s coaches.
Beal will sign a four-year contract with Washington worth approximately $17.7 million, the final two years of which are team options. He would be a restricted free agent in the 2015-16 season should the Wizards sign him to a $6.2 million qualifying offer.
The Washington franchise (dating back to 1961) had never selected a player out of Florida before drafting Beal on Thursday. He will be the first Gators star to play for the Wizards since G Mike Miller (2009-10).
Beal, the 11th first-round pick out of Florida all-time, matches forward/center Al Horford as the second-highest drafted player in school history. Neal Walk was selected by Phoenix with the No. 2 overall pick in 1969.
Point guard Erving Walker, was not selected in the two-round draft.
OGGOA Related: Beal confident following workout with Wizards