Florida’s Kenny Boynton to begin career in Israel

Former Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton, the second-leading scorer in program history, has agreed to start his professional career playing for Barak Netanya of the Israeli Basketball Super League, the country’s highest division of basketball.

Boynton was not selected in the two-round 2013 NBA Draft but earned a tryout with the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of NBA Summer League competition. He was hoping to earn one of 15 spots on the team but ultimately failed to make the roster.

In his four-year career with the Gators, Boynton scored 2,033 points and grabbed team records for three-pointers made (333), total starts (142) and minutes played (4,673). In the 145 games he played wearing Orange and Blue, Boynton was the leading scorer for UF in 54 games, top assist man in 31 contests and scored in double figures 112 times.

RELATED: Florida G Boynton: “I’ve tried my best to win as much as I could.”

It is the second time in three offseasons that a former Florida player has decided to begin his career in Israel as forward Alex Tyus played professionally for Maccabi Ashdod B.C. during the 2011-12 campaign. 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.

After one year in Italy, Tyus signed a three-year, $1.1 million deal to return to the IBSL and will suit up for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2013. The third year is a club option.

Tyus also converted to Judaism and became a citizen of Israel in 2011, allowing him to play for the country’s national team in the future.

Sportando.net first reported Boynton’s acquisition.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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FOUR BITS: NBA free agents, USA, Tyus, Parsons

1 » Center Marreese Speights is not the only former Florida Gators player making news at the start of free agency for the 2013-14 NBA season. According to Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Golden State Warriors have put power forward David Lee on the trading block. Though Lee had a fantastic season for Golden State, averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game on his way to the second All-Star nod of his career, he has three years and $44 million left on a maximum contract he signed two years ago. Joining Speights on the market early Monday morning was F Corey Brewer, who averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 24.4 minutes per game during the 2012-13 season with the Denver Nuggets. The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that the Houston Rockets will be meeting with Brewer soon in Los Angeles, CA. Also likely on the move this offseason is point guard Nick Calathes, who has yet to play in the NBA but still has his rights held by the Dallas Mavericks, which drafted him with a second-round pick in 2009. Dallas recently signed an Israeli player at Calathes’s position, making “it very likely” that his rights will be traded, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon.

2 » USA Basketball started competing in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship over the weekend, finishing 3-0 in the preliminary round with three blowout victories. The Americans, led by Gators head coach Billy Donovan, defeated Ivory Coast 88-29 on Thursday, China 113-57 on Friday and Russia 115-47 on Saturday. Donovan is now 8-0 all-time in international competitions with last week’s 61-point average margin of victory leading the United States to a win in Group D and a spot in the second group stage. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier II struggled with his shooting a bit during the three games. In 17:49 against Ivory Coast, Frazier went 1-for-8 (0-for-4 from three) for two points with five rebounds. In 19:24 against China, he had his best game by going 5-of-13 (4-of-11 from downtown) for 15 points. Facing Russia, Frazier finished 5-for-12 (2-for-8 from long range) with 12 points, three boards and two assists.

3 » Former Gators F Alex Tyus on Monday inked a three-year, $1.1 million deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv and will return to Israel (where he is a member of the national team) after a one-season stint in Russia with Pallacanestro Cantu. He averaged 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds during the 2012-13 campaign but fared better in the Israeli League as he posted averages of 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during the 2011-12 season. Tyus, who converted to Judaism in 2011 before signing with Maccabi Ashdod out of college, could remain with Maccabi Tel Aviv through the 2015-16 season as the third year of the contract is a club option.

4 » The Rockets are believed to be the front runners to land C Dwight Howard, the top free agent available during the 2013 offseason, and Houston is using former Florida F Chandler Parsons as a big part of its pitch. According to the Houston Chronicle, Parsons “speaks often with Howard” and discusses not just the Rockets’ success on the court but also the chemistry in the locker room. “We have great guys,” Parsons told the paper. “We don’t have any egos. We don’t’ have any cocky, arrogant guys. We have guys with the same mindset and same attitude. We genuinely all like each other and enjoy playing together. All of us text back and forth pretty much every day. Whether it’s us joking around or us talking about what we’re doing to get better or trying to get together in the same city for group workouts, we’re always looking for ways to get better and stay in touch and keep that relationship most teams don’t have. We’re all friends. We’re all thinking about each other.”

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Erving Walker set to begin career in Italy

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.

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SIX BITS: Parsons, Tebow, Wambach, Debose

1 » A report early Friday morning from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford notes that former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons, a second-round draft pick of the Houston Rockets last year who had a stellar rookie season with the franchise, may wind up playing for the Orlando Magic in 2012 if his current franchise is successful in completing a trade for All-Star center Dwight Howard. Sources told Stein and Ford that Houston recently “sweetened” its offer to Orlando and that Parsons is one of four current players the Rockets would send to the Magic as part of an enormous package. Though nothing is imminent whatsoever, Houston has been in hot pursuit of Howard as of late. The Rockets traded for numerous first-round draft selections that they used in June (all of which would go to the Magic in the deal) and are trying to clear tons of cap space in order to give Howard a maximum contract and absorb expensive contracts as part of the trade. Should Parsons wind up getting traded, he would be able to play professionally in front of his family as he grew up in nearby Casselbery, FL.

2 » Coming off of a successful rookie season with Maccabi Ashdod of the Israeli league in which he averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year, former Gators F Alex Tyus has signed a two-year deal to play for Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy, according to Sportando. Tyus, who recently received his Israeli citizenship and passport, will also play for the Israeli National Team while he is over in Europe. His contract with Cantu is worth $525,000 over the two seasons.

3 » Florida basketball is set to compete in the 2012 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic this season and will take part in the event for the 12th time in the last 13 years and 14th time in team history. It was revealed on Tuesday via a press release that UF will take on the Air Force Falcons in the event, marking the first time since 2008 that they will play a “lower-tier” program in the event (the Gators have faced Richmond, Kansas State and Texas A&M in Sunrise, FL over the last three seasons). The two-game tournament will be held on Dec. 29 at the BankAtlantic Center with Florida State and Tulsa going head-to-head in the first game of the doubleheader.

Read three more BITS on Lochte, Tebow, Wambach and Debose…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Parsons, Tebow, Wambach, Debose

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SIX BITS: Calathes, Hernandez, Noah, Tyus, Beal

1 » Following up on a story from May in which the Dallas Mavericks head of international scouting said that point guard Nick Calathes will have an opportunity to play in the NBA this season is word that he may actually get that chance. According to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon, Calathes “had discussions with the Mavericks [last] week indicating that he wants to play in the NBA” but continues “to be heavily recruited by European teams” now that his three-year contract with Panathinaikos has officially expired. MacMahon notes that should Dallas bring Calathes in for summer league action, he would be signed to a nonguaranteed contract.

2 » Now that the New England Patriots have locked up 2010 first-round pick tight end Rob Gronkowski long term with a six-year, $53 million contract extension, the focus has turned to what the team will do with fellow 2010 draft picks second-round linebacker Brandon Spikes and fourth-round TE Aaron Hernandez. As noted by the Boston Herald, New England signing Gronkowski to the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history could pose problems for Hernandez’s future. Hernandez remains under contract with the team through the 2013 season and is set to earn less than $1 million in salary each season. Should the team decide to give him a franchise tender, it would only cost them around $6 million, making there no immediate need for the Patriots to extend Hernandez as they would be able to avoid tying up a ton of money into one position. A No. 1 tight end in most NFL offenses, Hernandez is basically No. 2 at that position for New England despite also seeing time in the backfield and out near the sideline as a wide receiver. He most likely feels that he deserves money equal to or surpassing Gronkowski, which means his long-term future may have him wearing a different uniform.

3 » Only two of the seven former Florida Gators that participated in first-round action in the 2012 NBA Playoffs remain in contention for a title. Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem and guard/forward Mike Miller both advanced to the NBA Finals over the weekend; Haslem is looking for his second ring while Miller is still pursuing his first.

4 » Speaking of the playoffs, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (who severely sprained his ankle during the first round) has yet to recover from his injury. “I’ve tried to play a little basketball, but it’s still a little sore,” he told French-language website Catch and Shoot. “My left leg is not at its best. I can’t push off it; I can’t run well. I’m not ready at all.” Noah has been saying all offseason – since the Bulls were eliminated – that his No. 1 priority is healing and improving the strength of his ankles and lower body so he can compete with the French National Team in the 2012 London Olympics. There is a way to go until the games begin, but Noah obviously has plenty of progress that he must make before being able to participate.

5 » Former Gators forward Alex Tyus, who has spent his first season out of college playing professionally for Maccabi Ashdod in Israel, learned recently that the country has granted him temporary citizenship, which will allow him to train and likely compete with the Israeli National Team in the 2013 European Qualification games. Tyus averaged 12.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season and helped lead Ashdod to their league finals (where the team fell 83-63 to Maccabi Tel Aviv). He and his wife converted to Judaism prior to leaving for Israel last summer.

6 » According to his agent Mark Bartelstein, who spoke with CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman over the weekend, Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal has already scheduled three more workouts over the next seven days. Beal is set to work out for Washington (No. 3 overall) on Thursday, Cleveland (No. 4 and No. 24 overall) on Saturday and Charlotte (No. 2 overall) a week from Monday. The 2012 NBA Draft is set for June 28 giving Beal just over two weeks from press time to win over coaches and front office executives.

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Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.

10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Tyus will play professionally in Israel next year

Florida Gators forward Alex Tyus sat and watched the 2011 NBA Draft come and go without his name being called. It’s not that he expected to hear it but more so that the hope was alive that one of the league’s 30 teams would recognize what he brings to the table and keep him stateside for the start of his career.

With the NBA approaching a lockout and the desire to play professional basketball still motivating him, Tyus agreed to a contract with Maccabi Ashdod of the Israeli Loto League for next year.

Though playing in Israel will be new an adventure for Tyus, he has been learning many of the country’s traditions and practices due to the fact that he is currently in the process of converting to Judaism. (He will be done at the end of the summer.)

Tyus even watched the draft at Hillel just off of the University of Florida’s campus on University Avenue, inviting friends (Jewish and not) to join him for pizza and drinks.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

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