Former Florida Gators PG Scottie Wilbekin signs with A.E.K. Athens B.C.

Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who originally planned to continue his professional career in the NBA D-League, has instead decided to sign with A.E.K. Athens B.C., a source close to the player told OnlyGators.com on Friday.

Wilbekin, a Most Valuable Player candidate who helped lead the Cairns Taipans to the Grand Final in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaged 15.4 points and 4.3 assists per game. The team fell short of the championship, but Wilbekin was named to the All-NBL First Team this week.

Like the NBL, the Greek Basketball League is the top league in its country. Wilbekin is expected to start for the veteran-laden team, putting himself in position to be a featured player in one of Europe’s best leagues over the next three months.

He will be the second Gators point guard to join a GBL team in the last few seasons as Nick Calathes led Panathinaikos B.C. to back-to-back titles (2010-11) during a four-year run from 2009-12.

Calathes coupled his success at Panathinaikos with a solid run for Lokomotiv Kuban (Russia) to propel himself into the NBA as a 24-year-old rookie in 2013-14. A successful run in Athens could get Wilbekin back in the United States next season, possibly as an NBA rookie.

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4 BITS: Wilbekin, McDonald, Murphy, Hernandez

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has led the Cairns Taipans to the Grand Finals in Australia’s National Basketball League. WIibekin, who registered team-highs of 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the team’s semifinal-clinching victory on Sunday, is a serious contender for league Most Valuable Player honors. (He was recently named the Taipans’ MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.) Cairns will take on the New Zealand Breakers in the best-of-three Grand Finals, beginning on Friday. As first reported by OnlyGators.com last week, Wilbekin will immediately leave Australia and the United States to participate in the NBA D-League, regardless of the outcome.

2 » Facing a variety of domestic-related allegations, former Florida defensive tackle Ray McDonald will avoid all charges, agent Tom Condon told teams, according to NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport. McDonald, a long-time starter for the San Francisco 49ers, was cut by the team after a second domestic incident in a matter of months put him under a negative spotlight. McDonald was accused of domestic violence early in the 2014 season but was never charged with a crime with the accusation eventually thrown out. Then, in mid-December, he was investigated on suspicion of sexual assault, another allegation that will not result in charges.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Wilbekin, McDonald, Murphy, Hernandez

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TWO BITS: Scottie Wilbekin, Percy Harvin, Franco

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin, a rookie in Australia’s National Basketball League, continues to lead the Cairns Taipans towards the organization’s first title. With the best record in team history, the Taipans (21-7) defeated the Perth Wildcats 71-64 on Friday in the NBL Semifinals. Wilbekin, Cairns’ Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, registered game-highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds while going 7-for-11 from the field, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. He also posted four assists and two turnovers in 36:38. Taipans coach Aaron Fearne believes Wilbekin should be under strong consideration for league MVP honors, especially if he leads Cairns all the way to a title. “He’s extremely valuable to us and has been a big focus for opposition teams. For a 21-year-old to come out and have the impact he’s had, he should be a frontrunner (for MVP honors) in my opinion,” Fearne told The Cairns Post on Thursday.

A source close to Wilbekin told OnlyGators.com that the former Gators star will enter the NBA D-League immediately upon returning to the United States. He will join the league’s free agent pool therefore be available to get signed by any team.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Scottie Wilbekin, Percy Harvin, Franco

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Silver Lining for February 20: Jim McElwain talks 2015, Scottie Wilbekin succeeding, Oscars picks

Jim McElwain on infrastructure, spring practice, 2015 outlook

During an exclusive sit-down interview with Chris Fischer of WTSP 10 News that aired Thursday evening, Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain touched on a number of topics including his first two months with the program, plans for spring practice and projections for the 2015 season.

As he has in the past, McElwain spoke about the need to “constantly … stay current” and ensure that the Gators “continue to get better in everything that we do within the organization” both on the field and off. He said he remains in the evaluation stage as he hopes to rebuild Florida’s infrastructure, cautioning that “it takes time” because “you only have one chance to get it right.”

With spring practice set to begin at a yet-to-be-announced date in March, he also discussed his plans for the Gators once they finally take the field under his leadership.

Continue Reading » Silver Lining for February 20: Jim McElwain talks 2015, Scottie Wilbekin succeeding, Oscars picks

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

Continue Reading » Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

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FOUR BITS: Elam, McDonald, Nike, Wilbekin

1 » The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam will play the role of honorary Mr. Two-Bits ahead of Florida’s clash with the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday afternoon. In doing so, Elam will be the first active NFL player to come back and take the honorary duties of wearing the Mr. Two-Bits ensemble and leading the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium crowd in a pre-game cheer. The honorary Mr. Two-Bits concept has been a highlight for the Gators over the last two seasons with numerous former players (football and otherwise) taking the field including Wes Chandler, Errict Rhett, Lito Sheppard and Danny Wuerffel. Elam’s Ravens are on their bye week, which will allow him to travel down to Gainesville, Florida.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Elam, McDonald, Nike, Wilbekin

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, September 3

He comes from France

All four senior basketball players that left the Florida Gators last offseason have now found professional homes despite none being selected in the 2014 NBA Draft.

First was center Patric Young, who worked in the NBA Summer League with the New Orleans Pelicans (which guaranteed him a spot in training camp). By the time Summer League had commenced, Young agreed to a standard two-year, $1.35 million rookie contract with the franchise and is expected to be a contributor this season.

Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who spent the Summer League playing for two different teams, was unable to find a home in the NBA but instead got a soft landing spot overseas. Wilbekin inked a contract with the Cairns Taipans of the Australian Basketball League and is already in Australia working out with his team.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, September 3

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