1 » Former Florida Gators forward Casey Prather has been given a second chance at latching on with an NBA team after agreeing to join the Phoenix Suns in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Phoenix currently has 13 guaranteed contracts on its roster as well as one open roster spot. Prather will be competing with veteran center Earl Barron for that job. After spending the month of July playing for the Atlanta Hawks during NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Nevada, Prather was not retained or signed by another team. He averaged 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Both of Prather’s fellow undrafted teammates out of Florida, C Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin, have landed professional contracts. Young signed a two-year, $1.35 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, while Wilbekin inked a deal with the Cairns Taipans of the Australian Basketball League.
1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”
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.
1 » CBS on Tuesday announced its 14-week schedule of 16 Southeastern Conference football games for the 2014 season. The annual showdown between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air on the network for the 12th straight season, taking place this year on Nov. 1. It was one of four games announced; the other 12 will be slated as they approach, usually six-to-12 days prior to broadcast. The SEC on CBS will once again feature two doubleheaders, on Oct. 11 (noon and 3:30 p.m.) and Nov. 8 (3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.).
Florida’s potential CBS games – featuring quality opponents and open dates on the schedule – include at Alabama (Sept. 20), at Tennessee (Oct. 4), vs. LSU (Oct. 11), vs. Missouri (Oct. 18) and South Carolina (Nov. 15).
2 » The SEC made news of its own on Tuesday by announcing year-end winners for its 2014 baseball awards. Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second time (2010), and right-handed pitcher Logan Shore earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Shore is 7-2 with a team-low 1.47 ERA and 52 strikeouts in a team-high 79.2 innings pitched. Also receiving accolades were junior catcher Taylor Gushue, who joined Shore on the All-SEC First Team, sophomore outfielder Harrison Bader on the All-SEC Second Team, and first baseman Peter Alonso on the All-Freshman team with Shore.
1 » Former Florida Gators center Neal Walk, the highest-drafted basketball player in school history (No. 2 overall in the 1969 NBA Draft), is featured in last week’s Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” issue. In the piece, Walk discusses how vegetarianism and drug use affected his performance on the court and eventually caused him to get traded away from the Phoenix Suns. He eventually played in Italy but was arrested for drug possession and soon ended his career. Walk, who renamed himself Joshua Hawk in the 1980s following a spiritual journey, has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 26 years after being diagnosed with atrophy. He had the opportunity to return to the Suns shortly after retiring and remained with the franchise up until recently being let go in Oct. 2012. Be sure to pick up the latest copy of SI for a detailed and immensely interesting look at Walk’s life and career.
2 » After going through the 2013 NFL Draft process without an agent, Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has decided not maintain his stance not to hire one and will instead negotiate his own rookie contract, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The No. 32 overall pick in April, Elam is being advised by his brother, seven-year veteran NFL safety Abram Elam, who is currently a free agent. Matt Elam’s rookie contract will be a four-year deal worth $6.8 million with a $3.3 million signing bonus, terms that are already worked out under the slotting system that was agreed upon during the last collective bargaining agreement between league owners and the NFL Players Association. He plans to get the deal done before the start of training camp. Other Gators rookies unsigned as of press time are Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans.
1 » The Late Show with David Letterman, one of if not the most popular late-night talk show in the United States, has aired a famous Top 10 list every evening since its inception. On Tuesday night, that list was based on little-known facts about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Thanks to Twitter follower Erica S. for the heads-up.
2 » Six Florida Gators 2012 commitments have already enrolled early and begun their college careers this spring. As of press time, three-star defensive back Willie Bailey (Hallandale, FL), four-star guard Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL), five-star tackle D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC), four-star JUCO defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (Scooba, MS), four-star linebacker Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook, IL) and four-star wide receiver Latroy Pittman have joined the team and will participate in spring practice. However, three-star defensive end Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) – who was expected to enroll early with his teammates – has not yet had his transcript approved by the NCAA Clearninghouse, according to ESPN.com. Williams and the school hope to have the situation “resolved by the end of the week” but worst-case scenario he can just enroll with the rest of the signees in the summer.
3 » Speaking of Tebow, a new article in Advertising Age takes a look at his marketing potential following a eventful and successful season. Rich Thomaselli believes Tebow “could become a $10 million a year endorser if he keeps delivering like he did over the weekend,” sourcing sports-marketing experts like Bob Dorfman of Baker Street Advertising. “He’s become an icon; he’s bigger than football,” Dorfman said. “He has the kind of marketing potential that could put him in the Tom Brady or Peyton Manning category.” Another executive, Darin David of The Marketing Arm, believes Tebow has already hit that category. “I’m not so sure he didn’t get to the $10 million level already after Sunday,” he said. “To do that in the playoffs, to do that against a team like the [Pittsburgh] Steelers, the game that was the highest-rated [wild card] playoff game in 20-something years? As a marketer, you want somebody like that. He doesn’t have the same kind of negative backlash as other players. He is just so newsworthy right now that you would want to capitalize on that.”
On what he did to celebrate Sunday’s victory: “Honestly just when we left the stadium, I just went home and hung out with my close family, a few friends, my brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law, just hung out at the house and played with my nieces and nephews and had a good time.”
On if Sunday’s win matched his big wins at Florida: “I definitely was very blessed to have some great memories at Florida and very blessed to have some great teammates and special relationships and special wins.”
On how he and his teammates deal with the attention he gets: “For the most part it’s not like it’s something that you ask for. It’s something that, when they know that you care about them and that’s what matters, and you care about going out there and trying to get better every day and trying to be a great teammate, I don’t think they see the rest. Hopefully they see you as a friend and a teammate, and the rest is something that we laugh at and sometimes they make fun of you for.”
On going head-to-head with linebacker Brandon Spikes: “Yeah, that’ll be a lot of fun. I’ve gone against him enough times in practice. All of those spring practices we had, we had some fun going against each other. You’d like him on your team, but it’ll still be fun going against him. He’s a great player, and I wish him nothing but the best, and I look forward to giving him a hug. [...] I remember a few times in some spring practices when he might have hit me a little light when I had one of those red jerseys on. He wasn’t supposed to hit me but he kind of gave me a little nudge.”
5 » Former Gators defensive back Joshua Shaw, who decided to transfer from the program after the regular season and was expected to attend UCLA next year, will instead transfer to USC, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shaw, who wanted to return to the west coast and play closer to home, will be able to do so at a “prestigious school right around the corner,” his high school coach Jeff Williams told the website. ESPNLosAngeles also reports that Shaw will apply for a hardship waiver due to health problems in his family which could allow him to play in 2012 rather than wait until 2013.
6 » Tebow has been receiving plenty of support from around the sports landscape, but Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry went out of his way to praise the Denver quarterback after his team’s game Sunday evening. Gentry spent his entire post-game press conference talking about Tebow, which you can watch below:
The Suns team also had some fun with Tebow on Sunday. According to ValleyoftheSuns.com, Hakim Warrick Tebowed during the pregame huddle and a number of players were watching the Broncos game in the locker room before their contest began. In fact, Phoenix players “may wear Tebow jerseys to shootaround on Tuesday in Los Angeles in part to have some fun with trainer Aaron Nelson” (a big Pittsburgh fan). Thanks to reader Steven for the heads-up.
After waiting with bated breath for six-time NBA All-Star LeBron James to announce the destination of his choosing and being dejected when he selected the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks have agreed to send former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade that will earn the former New York fan favorite $80 million over six years.
Lee – who met and spoke with a number of teams including the Heat, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns – will be a key frontcourt starter for the Warriors alongside Andris Biedrins.
In return, the Knicks are expected to receive a package of players including former LSU Tigers power forward Anthony Randolph, former Kentucky Wildcats guard/forward Kelenna Azubuike and and power forward Ronny Turiaf.
“David’s excited,” Lee’s agent Mark Bartelstein said. “[Golden State] put a lot of effort into trying to get him. It was a very difficult and complicated process that we went through. [...] I think he’ll fit in great with that style. They have a really interesting team. With Monta Ellis, Steph[on] Curry and David, they can make a run for the playoffs.”
Over the last two seasons, Lee has averaged 18.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
In case you have missed it, former Florida Gators guard/forward Corey Brewer is turning some heads in the NBA this season with his play for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In addition to posting career highs in field goal percentage (42.9), points (13.2), assists (2.3) and rebounds (3.7), Brewer has been a part of two ridiculous posterizing dunks, a buzzer-beater to force overtime (and one broken orbital bone) already this year. He did it again Tuesday, absolutely obliterating Robin Lopez of the Phoenix Suns on a breakaway dunk toward the end of the first half.
By the way, this was ESPN SportsCenter‘s Top Play:
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