Florida coach Billy Donovan remains silent as Oklahoma City Thunder speculation grows

Aside from wishing Chris Walker well in a short written statement released by the team on Friday, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has remained silent as speculation surrounding him leaving college for the NBA grows stronger by the day.

Minutes after the Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks, Donovan was listed by multiple reporters as general manager Sam Presti’s top choice to fill the role.

At the time, Donovan was on the road recruiting, which he continued doing until he returned to Gainesville, Florida, on Friday. The break was short-lived, however, as Donovan hopped back on the school’s private jet that evening to travel to Lexington, Kentucky, and attend an AAU basketball showcase featuring some of the top prospects in the nation.

While all this was going on, the drum beat got louder for Donovan to head to OKC.

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Billy Donovan to Oklahoma City rumors flare up after Thunder fires coach Scott Brooks

Updated Thursday at 8:25 a.m.

The Oklahoma City Thunder fired head coach Scott Brooks on Wednesday, and Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has already been tabbed as a “serious candidate” and the potential favorite to replace him.

Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported Brooks’ dismissal, cited in the story that “Donovan is expected to become a serious candidate” to replace Brooks, the second time he mentioned Donovan’s name with the Oklahoma City job. ESPN‘s Marc Stein has called Donovan the “natural favorite” to replace Brooks, while the network’s Jeff Goodman immediately referred to the fact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti hired two front office members off Donovan’s staff just one year ago.

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Report: Billy Donovan a ‘serious candidate’ to coach Oklahoma City Thunder

Should the Oklahoma City Thunder decide to move on from head coach Scott Brooks, whose partnership with the team is currently being “evaluated” by executives, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan “could emerge as a serious candidate” to be his replacement, according to Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooks has gone 545-338 in seven years with the organization, finishing first in the Northwest Division in four straight seasons and making the playoffs in five consecutive campaigns. But Oklahoma City has yet to win an NBA title under Brooks and the team is facing some tough decisions in 2015-16 with injured superstar Kevin Durant’s health and contract situation both major concerns for the franchise.

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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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SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

1 » ESPN announced on Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Cox Communications for the cable operator to carry the SEC Network at its launch on Aug. 14, 2014. This is great news for Florida Gators fans, which can now be sure that they will be able to watch their team on the city’s biggest provider. Cox Cable is available to fans in five of the 11 states that host Southeastern Conference teams. With AT&T U-verse, DISH Network and Google Fiber on board, now Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS and DirecTV remain as the major operators not currently signed on with the SEC Network for launch. However, AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV could make that agreement easier, and the merger between Comcast and Time Warner makes it likely that one of those dominoes will fall soon after the other as Comcast appears to be the next in line to make a deal with the World Wide Leader in Sports. Company spokesman John Demming claims that Comcast and ESPN are “working out final details” for the network with an agreement expected to be announced “in the near future.”


Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Macklin, Reed, Beal, Miller

1 » The first session of the NBA Summer League began on Saturday and will last from July 5-11 in Orlando, Florida. Only two of the 10 teams participating have former Florida Gators on their rosters with rookie point guard Scottie Wilbekin playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and center Vernon Macklin getting run with the Orlando Magic. Macklin posted two points and two boards in 17 minutes on Saturday, while Wilbekin finished with five assists, two rebounds, a steal and a turnover in 13 minutes. Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.

Sunday, July 6 at 3 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Detroit
Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » Though concussion issues cut short his rookie season, tight end Jordan Reed continues to draw praise from members of the Washington football team. Quarterback Robert Griffin III told FOXSports.com this week that he is thrilled with how well Reed played during workouts this offseason. “I think he’s one of the most talented tight ends in the league,” he said. “He’ll have an opportunity to show that. He’s a guy that runs some of the best routes I’ve ever seen. … If he knows what he’s doing, where he’s going and he knows how he’s trying to get there, you can’t cover him. That’s a good asset to have. … You want to throw it to a guy that’s going to catch it every time. You want to throw it to a guy who is going to secure that catch.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Macklin, Reed, Beal, Miller

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Patric Young – Path to the 2014 NBA Draft: Visits with Thunder, Jazz and Mavericks

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 seventh time from Minneapolis, Minnesota, having now completed eight of his 14 total team visits scheduled ahead of the NBA Draft.

Last time I checked in I was in Oklahoma City on Sunday night, preparing for a workout with the Thunder on Monday. I did not know what to expect going there, but I was definitely excited about that visit. I had heard such great things about the people there and the organization. The city is obviously not a big city compared to some of the other places I’ve visited, but you can tell they have a die-hard fan base, like a college team.

On Sunday night, the team took all of us visiting out for dinner to Kevin Durant’s restaurant [KD’s Southern Cuisine]. It was amazing. His restaurant is amazing. If you like southern food, you’d be really happy there with the catfish, country fried steak. It was so good. I got baked catfish stuffed with crab meat; oh my God, it was incredible.

The next morning, obviously I ran into an issue before I even got to the workout. We were in a car 20 minutes away from the Thunder facility when I realized that I forgot my shoes at the hotel. I have no idea why I didn’t bring my bag, but I asked one of the guys to go back and get my shoes and they did.

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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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