Brewer: “One decision made everybody happy.”

The only player in Florida Gators basketball history to win an NCAA Championship and NBA title, forward Corey Brewer signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason and will return to the team that selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

After a three-year career at Florida that included the first triple-double in school history, two NCAA titles and the 2007 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player award, Brewer began playing as a professional with Minnesota but struggled after a torn ACL forced him to miss the majority of the 2008-09 season.

A trade resulted in Brewer being waived, but a subsequent contract signing brought him all the way to the 2011 NBA Finals with Dallas. He has spent the last three years with Denver following a second trade and raised his value by playing in George Karl’s up-tempo system. One of the most coveted free agents on the open market (after the top-tier players got snatched up this offseason), Brewer chose to reunite with Minnesota. But before that season can begin, he will return to Gainesville, FL, to host the fourth annual Corey Brewer Back-to-Back Basketball Camp benefiting the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at Shands Hospital.

OnlyGators.com sat down with Brewer on Sunday to discuss his college legacy, NBA career and his charitable endeavors.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in Tennessee, what was it about Florida and head coach Billy Donovan that made you decide that playing for the Gators was the right choice for your future as a basketball player?
COREY BREWER: “First of all, when I came on my official visit and I saw the campus, I was like, man, this is so wonderful. The campus was beautiful. It was just amazing. Everybody was so nice. Coach Donovan and his style of play, playing up-and-down the court, it was perfect for me. Even though I wanted to stay close to home, Tennessee was playing slow at the time and I just did not feel like I fit into Vanderbilt’s system. Florida was definitely the place for me.”

AS: Did you know any of the other guys in your recruiting class before committing?
CB:Al [Horford] from Nike camps a little bit, and I knew Taurean [Green]. He was trying to get me to commit hard when we were at camps together over the summer. Taurean committed first and he was like, ‘Come on, we need you, we need you, you need to go ahead and commit.’ I heard that for a week straight and got to know him well. I didn’t know Jo[akim Noah] too well though.”

AS: What did you think about Jo the first time you met him?
CB: “This guy is just a free spirit, a good guy. When we first met, we were playing in the gym and he came in and started working hard. You could just tell he was a good guy.”

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Tebow, transfers, Humphrey

1 » Though he has been garnered similar honors by other outlets, Florida Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was awarded a spot on the 2011 Associated Press All-American Team on Wednesday. Sturgis was placed on the second team while Texas A&M K Randy Bullock earned the first-team nomination. He was similarly given a second-team nod on the 2011 Walter Camp All-American list and recently was a finalist (but did not win) the 2011 Lou Groza Award, as announced last Thursday. Named unanimously to the All-SEC first-team by coaches and AP voters, Sturgis accounted for 91 points this season, going 21-for-25 on field goals and 28-for-28 on extra points.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow appears to be going head-to-head with a former teammate every week. After taking on Minnesota (with wide receiver Percy Harvin) two weeks ago and Chicago (with safety Major Wright) last week, Tebow will play the New England Patriots on Sunday, where he will square off with linebacker Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. The latter told the Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport on Thursday that he still supports and believe in his former teammate. “He keeps plays alive, and he’s winning,” Hernandez said. “[He was] a leader. I’m sure he still is. He brought a lot of energy to the game. When someone has energy, you take from it.” Tebow shared his admiration for Hernandez as well. “He makes any quarterback he’s with look at lot better,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal player, one of those guys when you need competitive excellence and you need someone to step up and make a big play, he’s always ready and willing. I’m just proud of him for what he’s done as an NFL player and what he did with me at Florida.”

3 » Two former Gators are on their way to Louisville, KY and could be one step closer to playing with former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, now head coach of the Louisville Cardinals. According to a number of reports, transfers tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark will be visiting the school beginning Friday as they search for a spot to spend their final two years of eligibility. Each will have to redshirt the 2012 season and will be eligible to resume playing college football in 2013.

4 » Back in the United States, former Gators guard Lee Humphrey is now playing for the Rio Grande Vipers of the NBA Development League. The official minor league team of the NBA’s Houston Rockets (which drafted forward Chandler Parsons this year), the Vipers are nine games into the season and have Humphrey playing 29.1 minutes per game, second-most on the team. Though he’s had some big moments already this year, Humphrey is averaging just 11.8 points and 3.1 assists per game. He is shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from downtown.

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Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

Overseas in Spain starting every game for C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 of the ACB, former Florida Gators two-time National Championship-winning point guard Taurean Green took some nearly 45 minutes out of his busy schedule to sit down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview late Tuesday evening.

Green, one of the four members of the Oh Fours and an integral part to the team’s success from 2005-07, discussed at length his college career and continuing relationship with his Gators teammates and coaches. He also provided some insight into what the current team is going through during their 2011 NCAA Tournament run and how they can improve going forward and make the most out of their opportunity.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With your father being a former NBA player and college coach as your adviser, what was it about Florida and Billy Donovan that had you winding up playing for the Gators out of high school?
TAUREAN GREEN: “Obviously Coach Donovan was a huge factor, the style of play, Coach [Anthony] Grant was a huge factor, too. It was just basically the style of play, how they get up-and-down [the court], and he’s a guard’s coach. I knew that he played for a great coach in Rick Pitino at Providence, and then he played some years in the NBA. Just from what everybody told me and from what I heard, he’s a guard’s coach and you’ll definitely get better [playing for him]. He’ll give you freedom out there but along with the freedom comes responsibility in running the team.”

AS: Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of upperclassmen holding starting roles on the team. How was it walking into a team with established guys like David Lee, Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson already comfortable with each other and running the show?
TG: “That was good for me. Some guys can adapt – you see freshmen get thrown into the fire right away nowadays. I felt like I needed that year to go against Anthony Roberson and all those guys just to get my feet wet. At the same time, I knew that I was going to be getting better going against Peep every day in practice. They led the way, and we just tried to contribute in whatever way we could.”

AS: You won the SEC Tournament that season and were a No. 4-seed going into the NCAA Tournament. What was it like playing at such a big stage so early in your career?
TG: “It was fun! When I was at Florida, the main thing was we just lived in the moment. We took it game-by-game. We wanted to do stuff that no other team really had done at Florida. We knew that we had David, Matt and Anthony, and we just wanted to contribute in any way we could. The main thing was just going out and playing hard, doing whatever it took to win.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Taurean Green…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Trattou, Gaffney, Lochte, Tennessee

1 » Junior running back Jeff Demps ran rampant over the South Florida Bulls. Senior safety Ahmad Black flew back-and-forth in the secondary making hits an intercepting balls out of the sky. But a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior defensive end Justin Trattou may very well have been the play of the game – or at least the play of his career. “It is definitely up there with my biggest plays,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “It is my first touchdown as a Gator. It’s a great feeling. […] I saw a lot of green in front of me and I was not going to let anyone catch me from behind, that is for sure. I didn’t get caught last year [against South Carolina] either, I tripped over my own guy.” Classmate, linemate and friend Duke Lemmens was just as excited. “Anytime one of us bigger guys gets in the end zone – it is awesome,” Lemmens said. “I got almost as tired running all the way down to celebrate with him as I did the whole game.”

2 » Trading star WR Brandon Marshall, the Denver Broncos had some shuffling to do at the receiver position this offseason. Head coach Josh McDaniels drafted one in the first round but mostly stuck with guys already on the team to fill in the blanks – and that includes former Gators WR Jabar Gaffney, who enters the 2010 season after a career-year in both receptions (54) and receiving yards (732). Scoring a touchdown in his team’s first game of the season last Sunday, Gaffney is feeling at home in Denver and ready to become a big-time producer. “I know what I can do, and my teammates and my coaches, they all have confidence in me,” Gaffney said recently.

3 » Michael Phelps may get the recognition, but as far as the title of best swimmer in the world is concerned, that distinction currently belongs to former Florida student-athlete Ryan Lochte, just ask longtime coach of Phelps, Bob Bowman. “Obviously, Ryan Lochte is the best swimmer in the world this year. No question,” he told the Associated Press. “That will be a huge challenge for Michael going forward..

4 » With the Gators heading to Knoxville, TN, on Saturday, fans of the Tennessee Volunteers used the opportunity to take a shot at Florida by releasing “(352): Time to Die” shirts, making fun of the arrest of redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey this week. While jokes and mockery are fine, especially in the Southeastern Conference, perhaps doing so while referencing a third-degree felony aggravated stalking charge is a bit distasteful, no? This isn’t exactly former guard Lee Humphrey falling of his scooter or a misdemeanor alcohol offense (which we’ll take a look at later).

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TWO BITS: Smith’s commitment, Florida profiled

1 » With former Florida Gators running back Emmitt Smith set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, OH, a number of local newspapers have been profiling his exploits both on- and off-the-field. The Pensacola News Journal covered Smith’s commitment to the University of Florida, a very interesting story especially for those not around at the time. Apparently Smith told everyone at Escambia High School that he would don the colors of the school he would choose prior to his announcement. Showing up in red and white, he indicated that he would be committing to Nebraska – a pre-planned deception. “When they called him up to sign, they called him up last,” his mother Mary Smith recalled. “And when they asked him where he was going, Emmitt said, ‘Well, I’m wearing Nebraska colors, I guess I will be going to the University of Florida. There were some very excited people there.”

Some even credit Smith with turning the Gators program around. “It meant a heck of a lot,” said school historian and former media relations director Norm Carlson. “We had the probation, all the other problems in the [19]80s, and we were in need of something to uplift the program and Emmitt was it. I think just the fact he signed with Florida, it really buoyed spirits of Florida fans and certainly the people here.” Former head coach Galen Hall agrees. “Emmitt came here when it looked the bleakest for the Gators, because of the probation we were facing. And for him to come and be a part of it meant a great deal. It allowed us to go out and sell the fact that, hey, here’s a young man who could have gone anywhere, but he’s coming to Florida.”

2 » Concluding a series in which the schools with the brightest future in both football and basketball were determined, CBS Sports listed Florida at No. 1, citing head football coach Urban Meyer’s intensity and head basketball coach Billy Donovan’s determination as the catalysts. Dennis Dodd did a nice job covering Meyer’s health scare, but Gary Parrish takes it to another level while looking at what Donovan has done in his time at Florida. A standout quote is Donovan recalling what he was told prior to the 2005-06 season. [There are some other great quotes, too, so read the article.]

“I’ll never forget this,” he said. “I’m talking to this AAU coach, and I don’t want to name him, but I’m talking to him and he’s telling me, ‘You guys are going to be awful. You’re going to be terrible.’ We were recruiting one of his kids, and he was like, ‘Geez. Who’s my kid going to play with? Joakim Noah? That guy is a role player. Al Horford? He’s a project. Taurean Green is not an SEC guard, and Lee Humphrey is a mid-major catch-and-shoot guy… So he’s telling me all this and I’m listening, but the whole time I’m sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t know. I kinda like these guys. I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.’”

Photo Credit: Pensacola News Journal

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