FOUR BITS: Prather, Gillislee, Bonner, Wuerffel

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Casey Prather has been given a second chance at latching on with an NBA team after agreeing to join the Phoenix Suns in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Phoenix currently has 13 guaranteed contracts on its roster as well as one open roster spot. Prather will be competing with veteran center Earl Barron for that job. After spending the month of July playing for the Atlanta Hawks during NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Nevada, Prather was not retained or signed by another team. He averaged 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.

Both of Prather’s fellow undrafted teammates out of Florida, C Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin, have landed professional contracts. Young signed a two-year, $1.35 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, while Wilbekin inked a deal with the Cairns Taipans of the Australian Basketball League.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Prather, Gillislee, Bonner, Wuerffel

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Thunder hire two Gators basketball staffers

Two four-year staff members of the Florida Gators basketball team will leave their jobs to take positions with the NBA‘s Oklahoma City Thunder.

On Friday, the Thunder announced that Mark Daigneault, an assistant to head coach Billy Donovan, would take over the head coaching job of Oklahoma City’s NBA D-League affiliate, the 66ers.

“Mark has placed a high value on development throughout his career and we feel that he is well aligned with the goals of our organization,” said team senior vice president and general manager Sam Presti. “His experience at Florida under Coach Donovan has provided him the platform to apply his intelligence and relationship skills to help strengthen the program. We are excited about Mark joining the organization and continuing his professional growth.”

Daigneault, 29, was not a court coach at Florida but instead helped players with their off-the-court needs and scouted prospects. He also worked with Donovan as a USA Basketball staffer, serving the same role. Prior to his time at UF, Daigneault worked with Connecticut’s basketball program as a student and spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Holy Cross.

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4 BITS: Wilbekin, Sturgis, Pouncey, Shanahan

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has found a professional home, according to RealGM.com, which reported Monday that he signed a one-year deal with the Cairns Taipans of Australia’s National Basketball League. Wilbekin is not currently on the roster and his signing has not yet been reported by another outlet, however, it is supposed to contain an out clause that would allow him to leave for the NBA if a team makes an overture for his services before the end of December.

Update: Head coach Billy Donovan, during a speaking engagement with the Atlanta Gator Club on Monday, confirmed Wilbekin’s destination.

2 » Beat writers that cover the Miami Dolphins believe former Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis may be on the verge of losing his job but not due to anything he is doing on the field. In fact, that is exactly the problem, as Sturgis suffered yet another groin injury early in training camp and aggravated that injury this past week. The Dolphins brought in third-year K John Potter to challenge Sturgis, and he impressed during Miami’s second preseason game by drilling field goals from 48 and 51 yards out. Sturgis struggled during his rookie season but was also put in tough situations. Before he got injured, the Dolphins had not brought another kicker into training camp as competition.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Wilbekin, Sturgis, Pouncey, Shanahan

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PF Noah Dickerson commits to Florida, Donovan

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

Going back to the Montverde Academy pipeline for the third time in the last four recruiting cycles, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan landed a big verbal commitment on Sunday when four-star power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) announced his intention to join the program next season.

At 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Dickerson is rated as the No. 56 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals. A one-time Georgetown commitment, he changed his mind in June and reopened his recruitment, listening to pitches from a number of schools including Florida.

In the end, Dickerson decided to play for Donovan and the Gators.

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4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

1 » As former Florida Gators centers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey await word on the civil lawsuit that has been brought against them in a nightclub incident where three patrons allege the brothers committed battery, among other acts, it appears as if only one of the two will actually be formally charged by law enforcement. According to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, the attorney for the victims claims that that Miami Beach Police Department will charge Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers with misdemeanor battery, while Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins will only have to contend with the civil suit. However, the Pounceys’ attorney does not believe a misdemeanor battery charge is on the horizon. “Until such time [as an assistant state attorney is assigned to review the evidence], no charges can be formally filed against either of my clients,” he told Beasley. “From what we’ve discovered, the evidence supporting the battery claims is flimsy, at best.” No charges have been filed as of press time.

2 » Two days after being praised by Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for his on-field ability and chance to make an impact with the franchise in 2014, former Gators running back Chris Rainey was cut for a violation of team rules. Pagano did not offer any explanation about Rainey’s dismissal in a press conference the next day and no light had been shed on the incident…until Thursday night. While tweeting during the Indianapolis-New York Jets game, Rainey send the following two messages consecutively: “Yeah im piss watchin the colts game when I should be out there too. Even tho I didnt break no f**kin team rules, not even,” he wrote first. “Nice TD Boom even tho u was in the hallway with me that nite when we was horsing around with the fire extinguisher. Man up like I did.”

Rainey in those messages was referring to RB Dan Herron, nicknamed “Boom,” who he is insinuating was involved in some mischief with a fire extinguisher presumably during training camp. Hours later, Rainey deleted the aforementioned tweets and issued the following statement: “Hello twitter fam, my apology for my cousin mistake earlier. I wasn’t aware of his actions til now. He’s been check truly sry, God Bless! My twitter account is in my control now, my apology once again. Goodnight twitter family and God Bless!!!” More likely is that Rainey tweeted his true, passionate feelings while watching his former team and then realized how sharing those thoughts made him look to prospective employers afterward. Either way, the earlier tweets seem to check out. According to the Indianapolis Star, a fire extinguisher was used in a break room at the team hotel on July 27, setting off a fire alarm. Rainey was released the following morning.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 6

Looking for more gold in Cleveland

Giving up more money, more years and a starting role, former Florida Gators forward Mike Miller officially inked a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, returning to the side of LeBron James for the second time in his career.

Miller will continue his career at a rate of $5.6 million with the Cavaliers. Cleveland gave the 34-year-old a player option for the 2015-16 season for the second year of that deal as well as a 15 percent trade kicker should it try to move him.

A two-time NBA Champion, the 2001 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2006 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has put together an exceedingly successful career since being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. In fact, he may very well be the most successful former Gators player in NBA history when his total list of accomplishments is taken into account.

Now with his sixth team, Miller will spend his fourth season next to James. During the first nine seasons of his career, Miller’s teams won just 46.2 percent of their games; however, over the last four, he’s been winning games at a 68.3 percent clip. Miller no doubt expects that that trend to continue with the Cavaliers.

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SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, USA Basketball, Grier

1 » Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons’s rise to fame and popularity, not only within basketball circles but Hollywood as well, continues as he is now being discussed on EOnline.com after having a dinner with Kendall Jenner. According to the report, Parsons and a friend dined at STK in Los Angeles, California, on Friday with Jenner, her sister Kylie Jenner, and a female friend of theirs.

“Kendall and Chandler had ‘immediate chemistry,’ the source tells E! News. “She was laughing, smiling and they seemed to be having great conversation with each other.

“The eyewitness adds that Kendall and Chandler ‘were chatting and flirting’ throughout their meal, during which the Keeping Up With the Kardashian stars noshed on tuna tartare and sipped on water. Everyone was dressed casually for the evening, with Kendall sporting a denim skirt.

“However, a second source insists that the duo’s outing was ‘not at all a date or romantic.’”

2 » Speaking of Parsons, USA Basketball published a profile on him Tuesday as he competes for a spot on the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Parsons said it took him “less than half a second” to accept the invitation to join training camp because “there was no way I was going to turn this down.” He continued: “Playing for USA Basketball still gives me goose bumps, just saying that and putting on the jersey. It will never get old.” Said head coach Mike Krzyzewski of what Parsons brings to the table: “He can stretch the floor and hopefully play defense on multiple positions. He wants to be here and he’s going to be in contention for one of those [12] spots where he’s a complimentary player.”

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