FOUR BITS: Macklin, Poyner, Portis, Shipman

1 » Florida Gators redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, currently participating in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament with forward Alex Tyus, scored 19 points on 50 percent shooting and notched 12 rebounds in his first game at the event on Thursday. NBA.com wrote a profile piece about him on Friday, looking about his entire career as well as strengths and weaknesses that may – or may not – find him a spot on a NBA roster this upcoming season. The feature also has a blurb about Tyus, who has scored a combined 25 points and grabbed 21 total rebounds in two PIT games, at the end.

2 » Left-handed pitcher and dynamic hitter Bobby Poyner, a Florida baseball commitment, tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and will miss the remainderof his high school career. According to the Palm Beach Post, Poyner went 6-1 as a senior with a 1.91 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 40.1 innings to go along with a .404 batting average. In his last full season, he finished 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 64 innings.

3 » Former Gators quarterback Josh Portis, who transferred away from the team early in his career and has spent six years in college, will be up for grabs in the 2011 NFL Draft in late April. In an interview with the Post, Portis said he is not running from his past but instead explaining it as well as he can and hoping teams understand that with age (he’s 23) comes experience and maturity. “I have nothing to hide,” he said. “Teams are going to know about it. Teams know everything. I feel, just be honest and up-front, and hopefully they’ll say, ‘Look, this kid made a mistake, and he’ll learn from it.’” The former four-star recruit transferred to Maryland after Tim Tebow was signed to be Florida’s QB of the future. While sitting out his transfer season, Portis cheated on a quiz and ruled ineligible for the following season. Finally able to play, Portis was stuck as a back-up and transferred a second time to Division II California University of Pennsylvania, where he combined for 69 passing touchdowns in two seasons and impressed with his athleticism. Getting ready for the NFL, Portis was arrested for using a stolen credit card but claims he wasn’t his. He explained that situation to the Post in a story that you can read here.

4 » Though Gators basketball had plenty of success without him this year, former Florida guard/forward Ray Shipman is thrilled that he decided to transfer to play football for the Central Florida Knights. After spending his first season on UCF’s scout team in order to get into football shape after playing basketball for two years, Shipman is now listed on the team’s spring depth chart as a starting outside linebacker. Part of the reason for his success is his praiseworthy dedication, which he planned to give since the moment he stepped back on the gridiron. “[The coaches] get tired of seeing me,” Shipman told the Orlando Sentinel. “I told [the linebackers coach] when I first got here, ‘Coach, I’m going to be nagging you. I’m going to be in your office every day right after class. If you’re here at night, I’m going to be here, too.”

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Contributions from Young, Wilbekin make impact

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

Comparing the 2010-11 version of Florida Gators basketball with the team as it was constituted in 2009-10, it is quite obvious the group as a whole is drastically improved. In addition to playing better defense, something Adam previously touched on, Florida is shooting better and turning the ball over less.

Up 1.6 percent from the field (46-44.4 percent) and 3.3 percent from downtown (34.6-31.3 percent), the Gators are more efficient than they were last year, making approximately the same number of baskets per game in fewer attempts.

Where and why has this slight but integral positive change come from? For one, the returning players are showing a newfound cohesiveness. Then there is the departure of guard Ray Shipman (transferred to Central Florida) and forward Dan Werner (graduated). Sophomore F Erik Murphy and some of the other young reserves have stepped up to replace the minutes previously occupied by Shipman.

Statistics show that the greatest difference is the combination of losing nearly 30 minutes per game from Werner and adding the 35 combined minutes that emerging freshmen Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin have contributed.

Neither Werner last season nor Young and Wilbekin this year shoot the ball often, but the duo’s shot selection and efficiency have made their production markedly different.

Werner Young Wilbekin Young/Wilbekin
3PT 19/73 (26%) N/A 11/37 (30%) 11/37 (30%)
2PT 34/87 (39%) 40/69 (58%) 16/36 (44%) 56/105 (53%)
FG 53/160 (33%) 40/69 (58%) 27/73 (37%) 67/142 (47%)

In 30 games, Young and Wilbekin combined for 64.7 percent more two-point baskets (56) than Werner did (34) in 34 games; the duo has also hit 26.4 percent more overall field goals (67-53). From three-point range, though Werner made eight more than Wilbekin has so far, it took him 36 additional attempts to do so.

In the other aspects of their games, the Young-Wilbekin combo has eerily similar production to Werner’s last year:

Werner Young/Wilbekin
PTS 4.6 5.8
REB 4.1 5.0
AST 2.0 2.1
TO 1.5 1.4
STL 1.3 1.6

Standing out the most is Young’s penchant for blocking shots. He has 26 rejections in 30 games, which easily dwarf’s Werner’s five in 34 contests.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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11/15: Donovan, players speak about Ohio State

No. 9/10 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post. Additional material from some of Florida’s players can also be found below.

FIRST PHYSICAL TEST COMES IN GAME TWO

Donovan has made it a point over the last two seasons to schedule tough opponents early both to increase strength of schedule and test his team. That is why the No. 4/5 Ohio State Buckeyes are heading to Gainesville, FL, on Tuesday for a rekindling of a recent rivalry.

“This is a great test and a great opportunity for both [teams]. One because it is so early in the season, it is the second game for both of us right now,” Donovan said Monday. “There’s a long way to go, you find out a lot more about your team in these situations. There will probably be some things in the game that we will need to get better at improve on. They’ll probably say the same thing. There’s no question we’re going against a physical frontcourt with [Dallas] Lauderdale, [Jared] Sullinger and [Deshaun] Thomas and that poses great challenges for our frontcourt as well to do the things we are talking about physically.”

But wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved if the game was a few weeks later? “Part of me really, really likes the fact that it is really this early,” Donovan continued. “The opportunity to play against a team clearly that returns four starters, they return guys that won a Big 10 Championship. They’re veterans and they add the best recruiting class in the country to their team. And Sullinger [is] arguably the best player in the country. […] Things are going to get exposed that you gotta get better at and sometimes its better off finding out those things now than it is later.”

YOUNG WILBEKIN COULD PAY DIVIDENDS

Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin had an impressive showing in his first regular season game, showcasing his poise, crisp passing and mature defense. Donovan raved about Wilbekin on Monday and hinted that he should see the court plenty this season.

“He’s really a disciplined kid, and when I say ‘disciplined,’ he really does the right things at the right time. When you talk about the discipline part of doing your job and doing the things you need to do, that’s what has really enabled him to come in and play,” he said. “His game will get better. As a coach, you always enjoy playing guys [from whom] you kind of know what you’re getting. I’ve been very, very impressed with him. I’ve been impressed with his toughness, and I’ve been impressed with his stamina.”

MACKLIN’s KNEE ACTING UP

Asked about the health of redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, Donovan confirmed that he is dealing with some knee issues – specifically tendinitis and bone spurs. “He’s been in and out of practice here the last couple of days. He’s dealing with some knee issues; it’s nothing that s going to prevent him from playing [Tuesday],” he said. “Going forward that is a concern for me. We’ll have to wait and see, but he’s been battling it now for the last week to 10 days. It’s definitely probably affected him some, but I’ve always been the believer when you step across the lines and put the jersey on, you have to go out there and play.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/15: Donovan, players speak about Ohio State

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TWO BITS: Shipman to UCF, Meyer wakeboarding

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Ray Shipman told UCFSports.com on Sunday that he will be transferring to play football for the Central Florida Knights. It came out a few weeks ago that Shipman had decided to change sports; now it is a done deal. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since I stopped playing football after my freshman year of high school,” Shipman told the site. “Everybody in football was real surprised that I stopped. Now I want to go back to it. People think it’s just me changing sports, but to me I’m going back to my first love.” His cousin, quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey, plays at UCF which, ironically, just hired former Florida assistant Donnie Jones as its new head basketball coach. Shipman plans to play safety for the Knights and has yet to speak to Jones about any interest in basketball.

2 » Head coach Urban Meyer has been trying to relax and spend more time with his family this offseason, and what better way is there to do that than wakeboarding? In a promotional spot for Nautique, a boat manufacturer, Meyer is shown steering the boat while his daughter Gigi and some professionals tear up Lake Santa Fe. Enjoy.

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FOUR BITS: Shipman playing football, two signees

1 » According to his father, former Florida Gators guard Ray Shipman, who transferred from the basketball team just a few weeks ago, has decided to switch sports. Rather than transfer to play basketball, Shipman will leave to try his hand at playing football – more specifically the position of safety. Shipman was named the state of Florida’s Mr. Basketball in 2008 but never really established himself on the college level.

2 » No. 4 Gators baseball (40-13) will begin the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament as a No. 1 seed Wednesday night against the defending national champion LSU Tigers (36-20). The double-elimination event, which is being played in Hoover, AL, will feature Florida in its third game and is set to air live on CSS at 5:30 p.m. The Gators swept the Tigers during the regular season, outscoring them 28-14 in three home games from April 30 to May 2.

3 » Florida softball signed a fifth player to their 2010 signing class on Tuesday, receiving a National Letter of Intent from Ashley Snedeker (Bloomington, MN). “Ashley is a very good addition to our 2011 roster,” head coach Tim Walton said in a release. “She is dynamic and is going to provide us with some athleticism at the plate and in the field. She is a proven winner at every level, and I am really excited to add her to our program.”

4 » Also signing a National Letter of Intent with the Gators Tuesday was sprinter Darshay Davis (Miramar, FL), who is joining the school’s women’s track & field team. “I would like to make the biggest impact as possible as a freshman next season,” Davis told the Miami Herald. “I know I will have more competition. I won’t be on top, but I expect to run pretty fast. At least finish top eight indoors and outdoors in the SEC and NCAA.”

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Tishman’s decision opens up 13th scholarship

Faced with rebuilding his program, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan had been dealing with one final obstacle – having enough scholarships to sign his six-player 2010 recruiting class. That issue has now been resolved.

Donovan, who finished the 2009-10 basketball season with only two commitments for next year, signed four more players in just under a month’s time – Rutgers’ four-star transfer guard Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), three-star forwards Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) and three-star point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL). Unfortunately, the Gators only had two remaining scholarships to offer with four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN) already taking up two other spots.

Sophomore guard Ray Shipman had previously decided to transfer (or else the team would have only had three total scholarships), but Donovan needed some help in order to get his program to the NCAA-mandated maximum of 13.

As OGGOA initially projected, the extra vacated scholarships ended up coming from redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen (who gave up his so the team could sign Wilbekin) and now freshman point guard Rod Tishman (who has decided to remain in Israel instead of returning to the team).

“For [Tishman], coming the distance he came and not getting and opportunity to play much here was a part in his decision. I think part of him wanted to come back again, but I don’t think he wanted to come back if it was going to be the same situation as last season. Coming over here to play in the States was an adjustment period for him. He’s got some opportunities in Israel right now that he’s going to probably pursue professionally,” Donovan said. “I loved coaching him and I still have a good relationship with him and his family, but he’s going to stay back over there. We certainly appreciate him coming here and giving it a shot. For him coming all the way, the distance that he did and not getting the opportunity to play as much as he would like too [was difficult].”

Donovan informed the media of Tishman’s decision Monday, one that was assumed by many but not previously confirmed. Tishman barely got on the court last season, playing a total of 16 minutes in seven games. He played his last game on Jan. 16 against LSU and did not step onto the floor again the rest of the season.

Allen has qualified for a Bright Futures academic scholarship but may instead decide to take a medical hardship. He could also decide to transfer if he feels he can get healthy and play for another program. Either way, he will open up an additional slot.

“Adam hasn’t played ball in two years. I want to give him every opportunity to come back and to play and that’s what he wants to do,” Donovan said. “There’s such an uncertainty about where he’s going to be at physically when our season starts. […] He realizes he has a tremendous uphill battle, his skill level and more. There are a lot of unknowns.”

Other topics covered by Donovan:
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2011 PG recruit Scottie Wilbekin to join Gators

Florida Gators basketball has added the final piece to its 2010 recruiting class, one which will give the team and head coach Billy Donovan a drastically different look next season. Confirming a story OGGOA first posted on April 21, the Orlando Sentinel and The Gainesville Sun are reporting that three-star 2011 point guard recruit Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL) has committed and will officially sign with the University of Florida next week.

Though Wilbekin is only a high school junior, he has excellent grades and enough credits to graduate early in order to be eligible for admission to UF as a member of the basketball team’s 2010 recruiting class. He has already completed his standardized tests, is set to receive clearance from the NCAA and plans to sign his National Letter of Intent at The Rock School on Tuesday.

“At first I was hesitant to give up my senior year,” Wilbekin told Florida Today. “[My coaches and parents] reassured me and I’m looking forward to being a Gator next year.”

Now the sixth scholarship player brought in for 2010, Wilbekin will join four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN), three-stars Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) and Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), who will not be eligible to play until 2011-12.

In order to sign six recruits to scholarships, further changes must be made inside the Florida program – especially after junior forward Alex Tyus removed his name from the 2010 NBA Draft and decided to return to school for his senior season.

Jim McKenzie, The Rock’s vice president, told the Sentinel that UF has already set aside a scholarship for Wilbekin, meaning the future of two players has already been decided.

Sophomore guard Ray Shipman has chosen to transfer, but the Gators still must clear two more scholarships to get them to the NCAA-mandated maximum of 13. The most likely candidates to be taken off scholarship are freshman point guard Rod Tisman (who would remain in Irasel or transfer) and redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen (who would retire and be granted a medical hardship or transfer).

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Florida basketball really a top 10 team in 2010-11?

All five starters are returning for the first time since the Florida Gators back-to-back National Championship seasons, head coach Billy Donovan has a much-needed deep and talented recruiting class coming in and not a single player declared for the NBA Draft for the first time in years. With all of these factors taken into consideration, three college basketball analysts have already declared Florida basketball to be a top 10 team going into the 2010-11 season.

ESPN‘s Andy Katz and Pat Forde and CBS SportsGary Parrish have given the Gators this distinction. But the question is: Do they deserve the love?

See what the experts and OGGOA have to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida basketball really a top 10 team in 2010-11?

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