1 » Florida Gators junior wide receiver Chris Thompson, who was excused from the team by head coach Jim McElwain while allegations of simple battery (dating violence) were flushed out, had the charge officially dropped by the state, according to Alachua County Court records. The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu spoke with State Attorney Bill Cervone, who said the alleged victim – an ex-girlfriend of Thompson – did not wish to pursue charges. Even if she had, it would have been unlikely that Thompson would have been found guilty of doing anything wrong. “He was legally entitled to make what is called ‘defense of his property,’ which in this case was his phone,” Cervone told the paper. “That’s what he was doing, and the injuries that resulted were inconsequential.” It is unknown if or when Thompson will rejoin the Florida football team.
The Florida Gators on Thursday announced that forward Dorian Finney-Smith has decided to remain with the team for his redshirt senior season.
“I got all the information I needed to make a decision,” said Finney-Smith after meeting with head coach Billy Donovan, according to a release on the school’s website. “He didn’t pressure me into anything, but rather let me be a grown man. Coach D is a mentor to me, I trust him and I’m happy and anxious to have another year with him.”
1 » During an NBA game on Friday, former Florida Gators forward Matt Bonner received an uppercut to the groin courtesy of Boston’s Marcus Smart, who was ejected from the game and subsequently suspended one game by the league. Smart claimed it was unintentional and “just a freak accident,” noting that Bonner likely would’ve gone after him had he thought it to be intentional. Bonner, a 10-year veteran who is averaging 4.0 points and 1.6 boards for the San Antonio Spurs, has yet to discuss the incident.
Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who originally planned to continue his professional career in the NBA D-League, has instead decided to sign with A.E.K. Athens B.C., a source close to the player told OnlyGators.com on Friday.
Wilbekin, a Most Valuable Player candidate who helped lead the Cairns Taipans to the Grand Final in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaged 15.4 points and 4.3 assists per game. The team fell short of the championship, but Wilbekin was named to the All-NBL First Team this week.
Like the NBL, the Greek Basketball League is the top league in its country. Wilbekin is expected to start for the veteran-laden team, putting himself in position to be a featured player in one of Europe’s best leagues over the next three months.
He will be the second Gators point guard to join a GBL team in the last few seasons as Nick Calathes led Panathinaikos B.C. to back-to-back titles (2010-11) during a four-year run from 2009-12.
Calathes coupled his success at Panathinaikos with a solid run for Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia) to propel himself into the NBA as a 24-year-old rookie in 2013-14. A successful run in Athens could get Wilbekin back in the United States next season, possibly as an NBA rookie.
1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow‘s dream of returning to the NFL has not died despite Tebow entering the world of broadcasting and refusing to either change positions or play in a lesser league (CFL, AFL) in order to get noticed by teams. According to the Boston Globe, which spoke with Tebow’s throwing coach of the last two years, the player may be considering entering the first-ever NFL Veteran Combine on March 22. “[Trainer Tom] House told us on Friday that he isn’t sure if Tebow will be attending the combine, but ‘he went from being a little inaccurate and didn’t throw a whole lot of spirals, to throwing very accurate and real good at spinning the ball.'” OnlyGators.com has spoken with the NFL’s regional combine officials on multiple occasions over the last few weeks but was told that an official roster would not be released either at all or at least until much closer to the event.
1 » Former Florida Gators defensive lineman Earl Okine signed with the Indianapolis Colts this week after spending time in both the Arena Football League and Fall Experimental Football League last season. Okine, who was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans last May, did not make the team’s regular-season roster. He picked up 28 tackles and 5.5 sacks for the AFL’s Orlando Predators.
2 » Florida head coach Jim McElwain made a statement with his 2015 recruiting class, proving that the Gators were not only able to close strong but also add some out-of-state commitments to the fold. Overall, UF locked up five players from the state of Georgia – including rising athlete Chris Williamson – last cycle after not grabbing a single Peach State prospect in 2014. McElwain this week told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Michael Carvell why he has made Georgia such a priority. “I think [it was due to a] couple things,” McElwain said of why UF had success recruiting the area. “There were pre-existing relationships with some guys on our staff who recruited the area in the past. That obviously helps. But for us, our thought is [to lock down] a five-hour radius around Gainesville. And with that being said, that goes up into Georgia, and that will be something that we’ll try to continue to make Gator Country.”
1 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has only shot 13 three pointers over 751 career NBA games before last Friday, so why has he attempted three since? According to the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, his coach told him he needs to start doing so if the 34-year-old plans to play major minutes in place of Chris Bosh. “If I want to play [power forward], I have to shoot the corner three. It’s part of our offense,” he told Jackson. “If I’m going to play the four, I have to implement that. you’re not going to make all of them, but you have to take them with confidence. I’m going to make some.” Haslem started his career 0-for-16 from three (0-for-3 with the Florida Gators), draining his first trey on Friday. He is 0-for-2 since for a combined 6.3 percent lifetime from beyond the arc.
2 » According to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune, who painstakingly did the research, no Southeastern Conference coaching staff has seen more turnover in the last 15 years than Florida. The Gators have had 65 coaches rotate in and out of the program in that time, nine more than the next-highest program (Ole Miss, 56) and nearly 20 more than the average among the other 13 SEC schools (45.4). That average is weighed down heavily by Missouri (17) and Georgia (30), though UF’s high number is still indicative of its hiring issues, especially most recently under Will Muschamp.
1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was a guest on Golf Channel‘s Morning Drive on Monday. After a sit-down interview with the hosts (Watch), Tebow took to the golf simulator, telling one golf pro’s host that his son should go to Florida over Florida State before lining up and ripping a 343-yard drive.