The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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Florida Gators C Patric Young signs two-year deal with New Orleans Pelicans

Florida Gators center Patric Young signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, a source close to the process told OnlyGators.com on Saturday afternoon.

Young, the 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year who was not selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26, was given a guaranteed training camp deal with the Pelicans and played for New Orleans during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The team had been considering adding Young to their roster but did not officially come to a deal with the big man until Saturday.

In five Summer League games with the Pelicans, Young averaged 7.4 points and 8.0 rebounds in 25.2 minutes per game. He started the last four contests at power forward for New Orleans and shot 48.4 percent from the field over the course of the week.

The 11th player at Florida 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 among Gators 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 was also named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, becoming the first player in league history to win the award in three-straight seasons.

“It feels good going to a situation with a team that really wanted me but couldn’t get me instead of a team that would get me on the team just to have me on the team and see what I could do,” Young wrote in his exclusive OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blog about joining the Pelicans for Summer League action. “The general manager, Dell Demps, called me and said he’s really excited for me to be here. He wants me to play defense and rebound in Summer League and everything else will work out. I was excited to hear from him, especially with him saying those things. This definitely feels like the best scenario for me right now.”

Update: Young thanked his fans for their support on Saturday evening.


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4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.

Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 16

What is this?

This is something I have wanted to bring to OnlyGators.com for a while, a weekly column combining opinion, entertainment and information. Seeing as this is still the offseason – and today also happens to be my birthday – I felt there was no better time than the present to begin The Silver Lining, which will be posted every Wednesday right here on OnlyGators.com. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

Unprecedented success

The “football school” tag was removed from the Florida Gators long ago, but it is nevertheless noteworthy how much of an impact head basketball coach Billy Donovan has made not just on the school but the NBA as well.

Consider this: On Tuesday, forward Chandler Parsons officially became the best-paid former Florida basketball player in school history (based on average salary) when he signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He will earn $14.7 million next year, $15.4 million in 2015-16 and $16.1 million in 2016-17; the latter two salaries are the highest ever scheduled to be paid to a player out of UF.

Consider this, also: During the 2014-15 season, the Gators will have four players earning $12 million or more from their respective NBA teams including Parsons, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee ($15.0 million), Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah ($12.2 million) and Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford ($12.0 million).

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2014 SEC Media Days – Mike Slive references Florida Gators in opening press conference

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. and sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III will represent the team on Monday by participating in the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.

Before Muschamp could take the stand and the Florida contingent had the opportunity to be swarmed by reporters, SEC commissioner Mike Slive held an introductory press conference to address a number of topics including the league’s success, updates to bowl game arrangements and an outlook for the future. Below are some highlights of comments made by Slive on Monday afternoon.

PRAISING SOME GATORS

Two now-former Florida student-athletes, right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers and center Patric Young, were singled out by Slive during his opening speech.

While running down the SEC’s multiple successes during the 2013-14 athletic campaign, Slive pointed out that Rogers won numerous awards while leading Gators softball to the first NCAA title in program history.

“Florida’s softball student athlete, Hannah Rogers, led Florida to its first national championship in softball and she was named the College World Series most outstanding player,” he noted. “Both A.J. [Reed] and Hannah were named Roy Kramer Athletes of the Year this year as voted by our league’s athletic directors.”

In the latter portion of his press conference, Slive used Young as a paradigm for what the SEC wants out of its student-athletes. He is someone who certainly excelled on the court but also was in great academic standing and contributed to the community both stateside and abroad.

“Florida’s basketball player Patric Young is an example of a student athlete who has made the most of his collegiate academic and athletic experience. He led the Gators to the 2014 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament title and the NCAA Final Four, was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year twice, was named the SEC male winner of the Brad Davis Community Service Award. Then he traveled to Africa where he encouraged children to focus on exercise and healthy lifestyle,” he explained.

“While doing all of that, Patric maintained a 3.4 grade point average. Student athletes like Patric, as well as many other student athletes like him, inspire us to protect intercollegiate athletics, to keep it healthy, vibrant and an integral part of higher education. We do this for the young men and women who seek an education, compete in sports, and ultimately make a difference in people’s lives.

“This is why it is critical for the NCAA to change, and to change in accordance with the vision proposed for the 21st century by the five conferences. This is one important way we will be able to provide academic and athletic opportunities for the generations of Patrics yet to come.”

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Young, Miller, Lee

1 » According to multiple reports Sunday afternoon, 10-year NBA veteran F Matt Bonner will re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs. Bonner, who made nearly $4 million in 2013-14 – the final season of a four-year, $13.9 million contract he signed back in 2010 – will play his ninth-straight campaign with San Antonio once terms of the deal are finalized. On Saturday, Bonner was in his native Concord, New Hampshire; he brought the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to Rundlett Middle School for his annual summer basketball camp. “It means a lot to me to bring the trophy here to Concord,” Bonner told the Concord Monitor. “it’s very symbolic. I literally grew up a block from [Rundlett], right down on South Street. So now, at the age of 34, to have the NBA Championship trophy come here, it kind of brings it all full circle.”

2 » Former Florida Gators center Patric Young has played well thus far in a pair of NBA Summer League games with the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas, Nevada. Coming off the bench in his first game on Friday, Young scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with 13 rebounds in 19 minutes but did cough up three turnovers. On Sunday, Young earned a start at power forward, finishing +25 after playing a team-high 29 minutes. He was 5-for-6 from the field, scoring 10 points with six boars, a block and only one turnover. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Philadelphia 76ers) nor F Erik Murphy (Utah Jazz) impressed in their debuts. Forward Casey Prather did not see the court with the Atlanta Hawks in his first game but chipped in four points on 2-of-4 shooting with a rebound, two steals and a block in 20 minutes on Sunday.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Bonner, Young, Miller, Lee

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FOUR BITS: Parsons, Miller, Summer Leagues

1 » With LeBron James’s decision to return to Cleveland now made, the reverberations will be felt throughout the NBA with two former Florida Gators players likely to be immediately affected. Forward Chandler Parsons, a Houston Rockets restricted free agent who signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, now looks to be headed back to Houston. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets now plan to match the Mavericks’ offer sheet. Houston must first compete trades to open up the necessary cap space to sign Chris Bosh; once Bosh has inked his deal, the Rockets can reacquire Parsons by using his Bird rights. A source told OnlyGators.com on Wednesday evening that Parsons preferred to continue his career in Dallas, though that same source told OnlyGators.com on Friday that Parsons is now very excited about the opportunity to play in a “Big Four” in Houston.

Update: Friday evening, Bosh spurned the Rockets and decided to remain with the Heat on a five-year, $118 million contract. How this affects Houston’s desire to match Parsons’s offer sheet with Dallas remains to be seen, though doing so would certainly eat into the Rockets’ potential 2015-16 cap space. Additionally, Parsons’s sheet includes an opt-out after year two as well as a 15 percent trade kicker.

2 » Also affected by James is F Mike Miller, who originally hoped to return to the Memphis Grizzlies to conclude his career. According to Wojnarowski, James reached out to Miller this week about potentially joining him in Cleveland. Miller is currently in negotiations with Memphis and the Denver Nuggets with teams like Oklahoma City also extremely interested in his services. He is seeking a three-year contract worth $4-5 million per season but could certainly accept a little less to reunite with James and potentially win more NBA titles before retirement.

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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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