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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FOUR BITS: O’Dome, NFL Draft, Beal, Lochte

1 » University of Florida trustees on Friday approved a $10 million contribution as part of a $50 million renovation for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Nathan Crabbe, who spoke with trustee Steven Scott, it will take 2-3 years to raise the remaining $40 million, so the O’Dome will not be looking much different any time soon. Eventually, the arena will feature an updated entrance; new seating areas including a permanent, non-retractable lower level, club seats and boxes; and additional concession stands and team shops. Florida will also improve the audio-visual elements inside the arena. The school just completed a $900,000 renovation on the structure in the summer of 2011 that included brand new seats in the lower bowl, wider aisles, handrails and more. UF also recently remodeled the gymnastics studio on site at the O’Dome. Read more | Pictures

2 » The 2013 NFL Draft is fast approaching and no Florida Gators player is generating more buzz right now than junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. On the heels of a fantastic junior campaign in which he started every game at his natural position, Floyd is unanimously considered a first-round pick in the draft. In fact, ESPN’s Todd McShay projected him as the No. 29 pick in his first mock draft ($) and Mel Kiper, Jr. lists him as the No. 23 overall player on his Big Board ($); both lists were released Wednesday. “Floyd’s versatility to play inside or kick outside to end makes him a great fit,” McShay wrote. “He can anchor against the run, chases plays all over the field and had a monster 2012 season.”

3 » The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, guard Bradley Beal came one decision away from never suiting up for the Washington Wizards. According to The Washington Post, the Wizards turned down a trade proposed by the Oklahoma City Thunder over the summer in which the team was looking to trade James Harden for Beal and forward Chris Singleton. Oklahoma City, which had been infatuated with Beal throughout the draft process and was rumored to be looking to trade up into the top three selections in order to pick him, wound up trading Harden to Houston after Washington rebuffed its advances.

4 » Former Gators swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte won a pair of gold medals on the first day of the FINA World Swimming Championships (short-course) in Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday. Lochte took the 200 Meter Freestyle in 1:41.92 and was part of the 4×100 Freestyle Relay team that won gold in 3:06.40. The last short-course world championships were held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 2010; Lochte won six gold medals including five in individual events. Fellow former Florida swimmers Conor Dwyer and Jemma Lowe also captured individual bronze medals on day one of the event.

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Chandler Parsons – Path to the 2011 NBA Draft: Preparing for the combine in Chicago

Through the 2011 NBA Draft, Florida Gators forward and 2011 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Chandler Parsons will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

In Chicago, IL preparing for the 2011 NBA Combine, Parsons got in touch with us on Monday to submit his first entry while relaxing at the suburban home of former Florida big man and Chicago Bulls starting center Joakim Noah.

Noah, who was relaxed and focused between games of the Eastern Conference Finals, is about an hour away from the city where Parsons will work out for all 30 NBA general managers from Wednesday until Saturday.

After I spoke to you on Monday, I spent the rest of the week continuing to workout in Los Angeles, CA, doing the same stuff and working on my conditioning. David Lee actually came out there and was working with all of us, and the trainer and I were just putting on some finishing touches and sharpening a few things up before I left.

I headed over to Oklahoma for my first workout, which went really well. The Oklahoma City Thunder invited 12 players to the Sunday workout and split us up into two groups of six. They held it at 9 a.m. on the day the team played game seven [of the Western Conference Semifinals].

Right when I got in there Saturday, there was a room in the hotel where a bunch of people who work in the front office for the Thunder interviewed me. [They asked] typical questions about my game, upbringing and childhood – basically every question you could imagine they were asking just to get to know me better. There were also a lot of questionnaires and surveys and a background check.

On Saturday night before the workout, the GM [Sam Presti] took me to dinner. There were 12 players there, and I was the only one to go to dinner, so that was pretty special.

Sunday was everything else including a psychological test and physical tests. They looked at my vertical [jump], height, [wingspan], the size of my hands and legs, did balance testing and a shuttle run. You do everything possible testing-wise and then you actually go on the court and do a hour workout with their player personnel staff.

The workout was at 9 a.m., and I had a flight already scheduled right out of there to Chicago. I ended up getting in around 10 p.m. on Sunday and just checked into my apartment. [Monday] morning, I woke up at 8:30 a.m. and started doing just everything I’m going to do at the combine this week.

I did spot-shooting at 18-feet and from three-point range, worked on catching and shooting on the move, and did four-spot one-dribble pull ups going each way. I also had a little conditioning and some ball handling drills mixed in to stay sharp. That lasted until 11:30 a.m. I grabbed lunch, came back at 3:30 p.m. and lifted with E’twaun Moore from Purdue, who is also with my agent [Mark Bartelstein].

All of my Chicago workouts are with my trainer Josh Oppenheimer and strength coach Ryan Thompson. I worked out with them in Chicago before I went to Los Angeles. Josh is a great guy; he’s really intense.

Over the next few days I will basically just be getting a lot of reps up – because you know exactly what they’re going to be doing at the combine. There’s nothing competitive this year. It’s just basically all shooting, two-on-one/three-on-two fast breaks and a whole interviewing process where every team there that is interested will interview you.

I will go through a whole bunch of tests, go to the hospital and get X-rays, ultrasounds and all sorts of tests to make sure my body is right and I don’t have any injuries. The next couple of days I will be rehearsing those things while keeping my conditioning, working on my all-around game and working on my shuttle run and vertical.

My agent has said that tons of teams are very interested in me, so I’m going to have anywhere from 12-16 workouts. I’ve already done Oklahoma City, I have the combine this week, and then I got invited to a group workout – the only group workout – in Minnesota. It’s where the top 24 prospects get invited and all 30 NBA GMs can come and watch you.

Go Gators,

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SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive end Jarvis Moss’ career with the Denver Broncos was uneventful with the former first round pick totaling only 29 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in under four full seasons with the team. Cut by Denver on Nov. 17, Moss cleared waivers and signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday. Moved to outside linebacker his last two seasons with the Broncos, Moss will return to his natural defensive end position with the Raiders and is set to back-up second-year player Matt Shaughnessy. He could play as soon as Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

2 » Speaking of Denver, their season appears to be getting worse and worse with each passing week. Even though head coach Josh McDaniels may be in danger of losing his job if he does not show some signs improvement over the next few weeks, he does not believe the time is right to try playing former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow more. “I don’t know. Not willing to go there,” he said, according to The Denver Post. “That’s not the case right now, so we’ll think about that when that happens.” McDaniels has had opportunities to get Tebow some playing time at the end of blowout losses this season but has declined on at least two occasions. “We haven’t had too many situations like that, but there’s a lot that could go into it,” he said. “I think each game is different. I think we’ve had the one game against Kansas City where you felt like there was a situation there but there are some other things that played into that. We’re not adverse to [putting him in late], we just haven’t had many opportunities to do that this year.”

3 » Former Florida swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte was named Male Athlete of the Year for the second-straight year during the 2010 USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggle Awards on Monday. Lochte once again had a dominant summer in the pool, nearly breaking the 200-meter individual medley world record in a winning performance at the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

Three more BITS including FSU already declaring victory…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Moss, Tebow, Lochte, Brewer, Mincey

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