1 » In Washington, D.C. with USA Basketball preparing for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan wound up sitting down next to rookie Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal for an interview with Monumental Network (check it out below). The terrific interview includes plenty of compliments going both ways, but Donovan noting that Beal put serious consideration into staying at Florida for his sophomore season is the most interesting.
“A lot of people don’t know his biggest fear going into the NBA was he felt coming into college as a freshman, he was playing with some older guys, and he said, ‘Do you think I’m making a mistake by bypassing a step of being a go-to guy and a leader on the team, because I’ve never done that? Do you think that’s going to hurt me if I go up there?’ I thought, what an incredibly mature question to ask. It was never really about the money, it was never about that. It was about what did he need to do to be the best he could be.”
For the second-straight offseason, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan will not be with his team when it begins summer training activities on campus in Gainesville, FL. Instead, Donovan will once again be coaching USA Basketball as it competes this year at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
While he obviously holds his job at Florida as priority No. 1, Donovan and has said multiple times that he is only working with USA Basketball because it is a manageable situation for him as his experienced coaching staff is capable of leading the program in his absence during a portion of the Summer B semester.
Filling in for Donovan during his scheduled Monday media appearance on the annual summertime Southeastern Conference teleconference was third-year assistant Matt McCall, who said the Gators are getting down to business while Donovan is overseas.
“Obviously this is an exciting time when you’re able to get some of your new guys on campus and have your old guys back and start working with them here,” McCall said. “[It will be nice to] get them in the weight room with our strength coach and start preparing for next year.”
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-hardFlorida 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.]
» 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!
Florida Gators rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier officially made the 12-man cut for the USA Basketball 2013 Men’s U19 National Team led by head coach Billy Donovan and set to compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship from June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic.
Though the final roster was supposed to be announced on the last day of training camp (June 19), Donovan wanted to get the decision out of the way in order to make sure the Americans had as much practice time as possible before leaving the country.
“Getting down to 12 is the real hard part because in a lot of respects we easy could have kept 14-15,” Donovan said. “There were some tough decisions, difficult decisions, but I think we feel overall that we have selected an athletic and versatile team.
“Our style of play will be an aggressive, up-tempo, running, pressing style. From an execution standpoint we’ve got to get better there, a lot of the other teams over there have been together for quite some time and that’s probably a strength of their teams, so we felt that we have to rely on some athleticism.”
He continued: “Getting [the final cuts] behind us now and going forward we can get our guys focused on being the best team. I think the focus up to this point of time by them has been ‘make the team,’ ‘make the team,’ ‘make the team,’ and we’ve got to now move it towards trying to win.”
1 » Florida Gators redshirt senior linebacker Neiron Ball recovered from the arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, registering 10 tackles (0.5 for loss), two fumble recoveries and an interception last year. In this special feature produced by GatorVision, Ball, his family, doctors, trainers and coaches discuss his recovery and resurgence.
2 » Gators guard Michael Frazier began working with USA Basketball on Friday as one of 25 players trying out for 12 spots on the Men’s U19 National Team that will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship from June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. Along with head coach Billy Donovan, who is serving in the same role for Team USA, Frazier is in Colorado Springs, CO, competing during a five-day training camp; the final roster will be decided on June 19. “Very excited to have the opportunity to get invited and have the opportunity to go play against very talented players and just have the opportunity to be able to represent my country,” Frazier told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “It’s just really fun when I learned the news.”
3 » Donovan coaching USA Basketball does not just benefit his country but also Florida. While in Colorado Springs and Prague, Donovan will be coaching a pair of uncommitted five-star rising seniors, center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago, IL) and forward Justise Winslow (Houston, TX). Ranked No. 1 and No. 10 overall, respectively, in the Rivals150 for 2014, Okafor and Winslow will get to see first-hand what it is like to be coached by Donovan, a huge benefit in regards to the Gators’ recruitment of the two players. Though Florida is not in Okafor’s current list of eight, it is in Winslow’s top 10. Donovan had a similar opportunity last year when he coached the under-18 team and five-star power forward Julius Randle (McKinney, TX), but Randle eventually committed to Kentucky approximately eight months later on March 20.
4 » Rookie safety Matt Elam is earning high praise from his coaches and teammates with the Baltimore Ravens. “Matt Elam is what we expected and maybe a little more,” said secondary coach (and former Florida defensive coordinator) Teryl Austin. “[He’s] going through the usual changes that a rookie goes through, but he’s smart. He’s tough, he’s fast he gets football, and I think he is going to be a fine player for us soon.” During minicamp this week, Elam intercepted quarterback Joe Flacco and began celebrating, only to have his teammates yell at him for not returning the ball. He explained the situation to the team’s website: “I was so excited that I got the pick that I forgot about the rules. Everybody told me to get up and run so I decided to get up and run. That was a great feeling to pick Joe off, the Super Bowl champion.”
1 » Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal, whose attendance at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday earned his team the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, faces a long journey before he returns to the court. Beal suffered numerous injuries during the 2013 season and was forced to miss the final nine games of the campaign (as well as 20 of the last 25) after it was revealed that he had a stress injury (fracture) to his fibula. He was originally given a six-week timetable for recovery but is past that at this point. Beal told Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday that he has not “done any basketball-related activities” since the end of the season and will be “going to get another X-ray” in the next few weeks. He should be fine for the start of next season but must heal the stress fracture completely before he returns to the court.
2 » Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II has accepted an invitation to try out for USA Basketball’s under-19 team, which will be coached by Florida head coach Billy Donovan through the 2013 U19 FIBA World Championship. Frazier, who is entering his sophomore season, will be one of 24 invitees competing for 12 roster spots. Training camp lasts for six days from June 14-19 in Colorado Springs, CO, but the roster will be finalized on June 16. Should he make the team, Frazier will join Donovan in Prague, Czech Republic from June 27-July 7 as Donovan looks to win a second FIBA gold medal. “It’s an honor to have this opportunity with USA Basketball,” Frazier said in a school release. “I’m really looking forward to competing with some of the best players in the country and trying to earn a place on the team.”
1 » Now that the undrafted free agents have been scooped up and rookie minicamp is in the books, the newest Florida Gators in the NFL have plenty of work to do to remain on their teams heading into the 2013 season, which starts in exactly four months. As of press time, there are 41 total Gators spread across 19 different NFL rosters. Below is a list of teams corresponding with the number of Florida players currently on their rosters and set to participate in their respective training camps.
(4): Miami, Washington
(3): Baltimore, New England, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay
(2): Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, Seattle
(1): Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis
2 » Gators guard Sydney Moss has accepted an invitation to try out with USA Basketball for a spot on the under-19 team that will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships from July 18-28. Team trails are being held May 16-19 in Colorado Springs, CO. Florida head coach Billy Donovan will be coaching the men’s team in the same event from June 17-July 7. He will begin his duties on June 14 in Colorado Springs as he tries to whittle down a 25-player tryout to the 12 that will earn spots on the final roster.
3 » Former Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana is raising eyebrows inside the Houston Astros organization with the way he is currently playing for the Class-A affiliate Lancaster JetHawks in the California League. Fontana (as of Tuesday) is leading the league in batting average (.369), walks (30), runs (29), on-base percentage (.504) and on-base plus slugging (1.071); he is also second in hits (41). As expected, Fontana is also proving to be an excellent defensive shortstop.
4 » Attorney John Morgan (of the law firm Morgan & Morgan) out of Orlando, FL has commissioned the below television commercial (which is also running as a radio spot) to support quarterback Tim Tebow and entice the Jacksonville Jaguars to sign the local product. Considering general manager Dave Caldwell made it perfectly clear months ago that Jacksonville was not interested in Tebow, Morgan is basically just wasting his money and using these advertisements to promote his name and business.
1 » The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine is now in the books. Though not all of the 10 Florida Gators invited participated in the full event, a handful did and looked quite good while doing so. Below are links to OGGOA‘s combine wrap-ups. Click the appropriate link to see how your favorite former Florida player performed.
Safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans – Tuesday | Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd; linebackers Jon Bostic, Jelani Jenkins and Lerentee McCray – Monday | Running back Mike Gillislee – Sunday | Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, kicker Caleb Sturgis, tight end Jordan Reed – Saturday
2 » New England Patriots running back and Olympic silver medalist sprinter Jeff Demps wants to return to the track but do so without giving up football. According to agent Daniel Rose of Gridiron Sports, who did not return a request for comment from OGGOA but did send a tweet about the subject on Tuesday, Demps truly hopes that New England gives him permission to pursue both of his passions. “Jeff Demps has no intentions of leaving football. He loves doing both football and track. Representing Team USA in track and field in the Olympics and playing NFL football are an honor and privilege and Jeff Demps loves both,” he wrote. NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport first reported the story and explained on NFL Network that “he plans to compete in an event in March and that calendar would run through August. They informed the Patriots of that this week. It’s possible the Patriots could work out a deal as Demps does want to play two sports. It’s a little too early to know a resolution on this but we do know he wants to play two sports.” Whether or not New England – or another NFL team – wants to give Demps that opportunity is an unknown at this point.
3 » While at NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, TX a few weeks ago, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee approached USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo about playing for Team USA in the upcoming 2014 FIBA World Cup and remaining on the team through the 2016 Rio Olympics. According to FOX Sports’ Chris Tomasson, Colangelo “said nothing is definite yet as far as Lee being among 20 to 24 players” invited to Las Vegas, NV for training camp from July 24-28. Chances are he will have that opportunity, however, as Lee trained with Team USA in preparation for the World Championships in 2010 and probably would have made the team if not for sustaining an injury that forced him to depart early.
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