FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

1 » ESPN.com’s Chad Ford took an early look at the prospects potentially available in the 2015 NBA Draft and had a number of Florida Gators on his top-100 list. Leading the way at No. 13 overall is forward/center Chris Walker, who is projected to be a lottery selection. He is followed by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill (No. 29), junior guard Michael Frazier II (No. 65) and redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith (No. 67). Walker has already decided to turn pro after the 2014-15 season, though Hill will need to take a major step forward if he hopes to leave after his second campaign. Frazier and Finney-Smith will likely remain at Florida for their senior seasons.

2 » Power forward Udonis Haslem chose not to exercise his player option of $4.6 million with the Miami Heat, the second time in his career that he has left money on the table to help the club have increased flexibility in free agency. The last time Haslem made a similar maneuver, he gave up $10 million in salary to re-sign with Miami instead of take a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Halsem, now 34, is near the end of his NBA career. He averaged a career-low 14.2 minutes per game during the regular season and played less than 11 minutes on average in the 2013-14 postseason. Rather than take the chunk salary of $4.6 million he is due as an option, he is expected to sign a multi-year deal for a larger amount (but lower annual salary) that will be paid out over three or four seasons. Chances are Haslem will retire before seeing the end of his contract and be given a role in the Heat organization while still being paid by the franchise. He will be entering his 12th season in 2014-15.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

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Knicks trade opens door for Patric Young

A six-player trade completed Wednesday evening between the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks, which was centered on Tyson Chandler and Jose Calderon, also sent both of the Mavericks’s second-round picks to the Knicks, suddenly giving New York the opportunity to add talent in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday.

One player the Knicks may be targeting with the either of their two newly-acquired selections, No. 34 and No. 51 overall, is Florida Gators center Patric Young, a defense-first big man who could fill in for some of what the team lost in Chandler.

Young has met with New York twice since late May. He had a private interview with the team at the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago, Illinois, and participated in a four-player workout at the Knicks’s practice facility on June 4.

In two exclusive Path to the Draft blog entries on OnlyGators.com, Young detailed his meetings with New York. His first in Chicago included new president Phil Jackson.

“They said, ‘We need defense and rebounding,’” Young recounted.

“I said, ‘I can provide that for you.’

Continue Reading » Knicks trade opens door for Patric Young

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks

Through the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the fifth time from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, having now completed five of his 14 total team visits scheduled ahead of the NBA Draft.

After my workout in Philadelphia last Sunday, I had my flight scheduled to get over to Chicago on Monday afternoon. It actually got cancelled as we were on the plane, on the runway. Everyone was ready to go, but I had a bad feeling because I’ve had bad experiences with that airline before. Somehow, I knew there was going to be a problem.

That flight was scheduled for before noon, and I could not get on another until 8:30 p.m. I wound up chilling in the airport for nearly 10 hours, so to pass the time I watched Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and a Justice League cartoon on Netflix [laughing]. Eventually I did get on the plane to go to Chicago.

While working out for the Bulls on Tuesday, I got the opportunity to meet Derek Rose – that was pretty cool seeing him – Tony Snell and some other players. I sat down with the entire staff including head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Continue Reading » Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Phoenix, San Antonio, Philadelphia

Through the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the fourth time from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after completing the first three of 14 total team visits he has scheduled before the NBA Draft.

I’m three workouts into the NBA Draft process. It is already proving to be a long, hectic process, and June is going to be crazy. As of right now, I have 14 total workouts scheduled and 11 to go.

My first workout was with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, my second was with the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and the one I just finished up was hosted by the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

At my first workout in Phoenix, I heard rumors from the guys at IMG that there was going to be a lot of running and it would be high-tempo. Those guys were right. I was definitely a little nervous going into it because I could see them taking me as one of their picks, and I really wanted to do well.

When I got into Phoenix on Tuesday, I decided to get some work in and put up some shots at the gym. It helped calm my nerves a little bit to get used to the facility.

I didn’t do as great as I wanted to, but I still played really hard, competed well and got a lot of good feedback from the team. I still shot the ball really well; I just think the nerves got to me a little bit with it being my first workout. My energy level, defense and rebounding were absolutely there though.

Continue Reading » Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Phoenix, San Antonio, Philadelphia

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Combine (Part II) – Knicks, Phil Jackson, Jazz

Through the 2014 NBA Draft set for June 26 in New York, New York, Florida Gators center Patric Young will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive comprehensive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

The 11th player in school history to end his career with more than 1,300 points and 800 rebounds, Young averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game as a senior and also contributed 6.2 boards per contest last season. He is second all-time at Florida in games played (149), fifth in blocks (159) and dunks (142), eighth in minutes played (1,644), and ninth in field goal percentage (.577) and games started (107).

Young in 2013-14 claimed SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the first time but was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third-straight season, becoming the first player in league history to accomplish that feat.

He checks in for the third time from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, his new temporary home, after spending most of the last week in Chicago, Illinois, participating in the 2014 NBA Draft Combine.

Combine Part I: IMG Academy, Pelicans, Grizzlies

Next up on Thursday was an interview with the New York Knicks, and Phil Jackson [the team's new president] was in there. He was pretty quiet for the first 20 minutes or so but then he would throw in some questions here and there. He probably asked me about five questions in all. He was mild-mannered, which calmed me down because I was thinking, “Wow, this is Phil Jackson.”

The Knicks overall asked me about my faith and if I like to do stuff in the community. They asked me to explain one thing I worry about in the future, and I said, “I’m worried about who I’m going to marry in the future.” They thought that was funny because it was the most serious, quick response they got to that question. Then they were like, “What do you want your wife to be like?” And I joked, “What does this have to do with basketball?”

Continue Reading » Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Combine (Part II) – Knicks, Phil Jackson, Jazz

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Donovan, Calathes, Parsons

1 » According to CSNChicago.com, a press conference scheduled by the Chicago Bulls for 4 p.m. on Monday will be to officially announce that former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah will be named the 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Noah, who was an unlikely MVP candidate this season, would become the first Chicago player to win the award since Michael Jordan (1987-88) and first-ever former Florida player to capture the honor. He would be just the second Gators player to win an NBA year-end award, joining guard Mike Miller, who was named Rookie of the Year in 2000-01 and Sixth Man of the Year in 2005-06.

2 » Already considered a hot name for the New York Knicks job, Florida head coach Billy Donovan is now apparently up for another NBA gig with the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Been discussing [Tom] Izzo/[Fred] Hoiberg for some time as candidates to replace [Rick] Adelman, but here’s a new name I’m told interests Wolves: Billy Donovan,” tweeted ESPN.com reporter Marc Stein on Monday. “Wolves [are] vowing [a] comprehensive search to find coach who can help them persuade Kevin Love to stay. Donovan, I’m told, has emerged as new target.” The New York and Minnesota jobs both opened up on Monday when Mike Woodson was fired by new Knicks team president Phil Jackson and Adelman announced his retirement. Donovan would seem to be a better fit in New York than Minnesota but neither is a likely destination for him at this time. The Timberwolves are 71-93 over the last two seasons, will be looking for their sixth coach in a span of 10 seasons and may very well be losing their star player to free agency after the conclusion of the 2014-15 campaign.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Donovan, Calathes, Parsons

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TWO BITS: Donovan and Knicks, Roper’s offense

1 » With the Florida Gators back on top, head coach Billy Donovan will once be written about as someone who could potentially jump to the NBA after the season. Even after he accepted the Orlando job, changed his mind and returned to Florida, Donovan has still been heavily considered by some of the top franchises in the league and remains a hot name to this day whenever there are coaching openings. There also happens to be no better team to link Donovan with than the New York Knicks, his hometown squad, the only franchise he played for in the NBA – and as it so happens – one that tends to make a coaching change every other year. ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O’Connor on Tuesday night listed Donovan as a top-five candidate to take what is expected to be an open job with the Knicks after the 2013-14 season.

He has a chance to win his third national title at Florida and, at 48, he might finally be ready for the new career challenge he accepted (and then declined days later) from the Orlando Magic in 2007. Donovan grew up on Long Island and lived out his boyhood dream when he played 44 games for Rick Pitino’s Knicks in 1987-88.

Though he still loves to tell stories of the time his mother took him to the Garden and bought him a Clyde Frazier T-shirt, Donovan rejected Isiah Thomas’ attempt to hire him as Knicks coach years ago. Would he consider leaving Florida after 18 seasons for a chance to rebuild the only team he ever wanted to play for?

“Billy would be an awesome NBA coach,” said one source who knows him well. “He doesn’t have any professional coaching experience, but Brad Stevens is managing it well in Boston and that should give the Knicks more confidence to look that way. I just don’t know if Billy would do it.”

“If I can’t get Jeff Van Gundy,” said a second source, “my next guy is Billy Donovan. Maybe he should be the Knicks’ first choice because he doesn’t have Jeff’s baggage from coaching there before. He runs a pro offense, his teams defend and I think he’s got the personality for it.”

Donovan-to-New York always has and always will make sense. However, these Knicks are not the franchise of his youth. New York has major problems in ownership, the front office and on the court with a roster hamstrung for 2014-15 and set to potentially lose its best player in Carmelo Anthony. Donovan, if or when he jumps to the NBA, would seemingly do so at an opportune time. He’s had plenty of chances in the past but turned them down to remain with the Gators where he is comfortable and working for a great friend in athletic director Jeremy Foley. Donovan still has a son who he is coaching and will remain around the team (he just got accepted to graduate school at Florida), and his father is also in town. Donovan-to-the Knicks does make sense, one day, maybe two years from now when New York is looking for the next big name coach to save the franchise. Then again, perhaps the lure of his favorite team will be too great. Perhaps owner Jim Dolan will offer too much power and money to turn down. You just never know.

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TWO BITS: Gators team awards, game-winners

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2013 award winners along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Mike McNeely
* Second-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jaylen Watkins, Mark Herndon and Darrin Kitchens
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Solomon Patton
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Solomon Patton, Damien Jacobs, Jon Halapio, Neiron Ball and Ronald Powell
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Powell each won the award.
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Antonio Riles, Tim Clark, Caleb Brantley | Defensive: Case Harrison, Adam Lane, Cameron Dillard | Special Teams: Chris Thompson, Ryan Parrish

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Michael Taylor
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio and Harrison won the award for offense.
Most Valuable Player Offense: Solomon Patton | Defense: Dante Fowler, Jr. Special Teams: Jarrad Davis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Halapio and Dominique Easley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Solomon Patton
* Third-straight year that a senior offensive player won the award.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jeremy Brown, Kyle Koehne and Darrin Kitchens
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Dominique Easley
* Second-straight year that Halapio was named a team captain.

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