FOUR BITS: Macklin, Young, planking, Nelson

1 » Though the story is no longer available on the team’s website due to the NBA lockout, the Detroit Pistons had posted an interesting column focusing on their No. 52 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, former Florida Gators center Vernon Macklin. Evaluating his performances in workouts, team vice president Scott Perry raved about Macklin’s potential. “The biggest thing is, he didn’t look out of place,” Perry said. “He was physical, strong, could hold his position in the low post defensively, long arms and he competed. That’s what you want to see.”

Macklin also received support from Detroit personnel director George David, who fueled him during the Portsmouth Invitational. “He said, ‘Are you going to be Joakim Noah or his backup?’” Macklin recalls. “After my first game at PIT, he texted me and said, ‘You were Joakim Noah today.’ And he said the same thing at the end of the workout.”

2 » The 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 Team faltered at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships on Wednesday, dropping a 87-85 contest to Croatia. Just a day earlier, the United States was triumphant in an equally close match, defeating Lithuania 107-105 in overtime. The constant in both games was the play of Florida sophomore center Patric Young, who has turned in some dominant performances after getting off to a slow start. Young went 5/7 both from the field and from the line for 15 points with seven rebounds in 26:24 on Tuesday and followed that up by shooting 7/8 from the floor for 16 points with eight boards in 26:19 on Wednesday. Over his last three international games, Young has shot 85.7 percent and averaged 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

3 » It has been just over a week since Gators redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail went on a planking spree, and OGGOA has had fun following many of Florida’s student-athletes as they take part in the activity. Things seem to have wound down a bit over the last few days and, therefore, we present you with this (potentially final) compilation wrapping up the latest planking attempts. You can view the rest of them here, here and here. The photos below feature Trail and sophomore wide receiver Robert Clark, redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison and softball players Hannah Rogers and Ensley Gammel.

4 » Keeping busy during the NFL’s lockout, Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson was recently in Las Vegas, NV and ended up on stage during a Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood concert. Below is a picture snapped by one of his friends.

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FOUR BITS: Directors’ Cup, USA, Young, Brewer

1 » The University of Florida athletic program finished no. 4 in the nation in the 2010-11 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Thirteen Florida Gators programs finished in the top 10 of their respective sport nationally including women’s tennis (No. 1), men’s indoor track & field (No. 1), baseball (No. 2), softball (No. 2), men’s outdoor track & field (No. 3), men’s basketball (No. 5), men’s swimming & diving (No. 5), lacrosse (No. 5), gymnastics (No. 7), women’s swimming & diving (No. 7), men’s tennis (No. 9), volleyball (No. 9), women’s golf (No. 10). It is the third-straight year that the Gators have finished in the top four in the Cup’s final rankings.

2 » Competing with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team, Florida center Patric Young had some difficulties in the preliminary round of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships against Egypt. Though Team USA won 115-60, Young only went 2-of-4 from the field for five points with eight rebounds in 14 minutes. Young played much better on Friday, posting 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with seven boards in 18:30 as Team USA came back to top Serbia 80-78.

3 » Speaking of Young, he and head coach Billy Donovan mentioned a few times last season that he had to overcome some attitude issues during the first half off the year; once doing so, he felt much better about himself and his spot on the team. Young opened up even more about this to ESPN’s Diamond Leung, who spoke with him recently. “When you hear it over and over … if 500 people came in and told you you’re the best writer in the world, you’re going to start believing it, right?” he said. “You’re going to be the next best thing. You’re going to be one-and-done. You should be starting over Vernon Macklin. You should play 30-35 minutes a game. People say stuff like that. I was so mentally blocked that I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong and how it was hurting my team, and coaches had to sit me down and break that down for me, and I understood from that point on forward.”

4 » Dallas Mavericks guard Corey Brewer will be making his triumphant return to Gainesville, FL…for at least three days this summer. Brewer, a member of the Gators’ back-to-back men’s basketball NCAA National Championship teams, will host The Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp powered by Five Star Basketball in Gainesville, FL, from July 26-28. Brewer will donate all proceeds to Shands Children’s Hospital at UF and the “Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund,” both benefiting the school’s medical center. “I had a great time with the kids last year. I am so fortunate to have played basketball at the University of Florida. I always like going back to give back to the community that has given me so much,” he told The Gainesville Sun.

Times: August 1-3 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants: Boys and girls ages 9-18
Activities: Basketball drills, five-on-five games, contests, educational sessions, player evaluations, lectures and much more
Extras: Lunch, T-shirt, photo with Brewer, awards, certificate, etc.
Cost: $150 per camper
More information: http://www.CoreyBrewer.com

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FOUR BITS: Crowder, Beal, Young, Baker, Leak

1 » Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, considered by many (including OGGOA) to be one of the most outspoken and honest players in the NFL, has been given his own radio show on 560 WQAM in South Florida until the lockout has concluded. During his first show on Sunday, Crowder touched on a number of topics including his pregnant wife (he’s having a boy), offseason workouts and the realization that he is not a fan favorite. “I know people hate me,” Crowder said. “When people hate on you, you’ve got to be doing something right.” However, the most interesting he said Sunday afternoon relates to quarterback Terrelle Pryor and how he got in trouble at Ohio State. Though he tried to get around admitting it outright, Crowder insinuated that he sold his Florida Gators jerseys at some point during or after his time in Gainesville, FL. “I’ll say hypothetically I don’t have any of my Florida jerseys,” he said. “There were some Jacksonville businessmen who liked my play.”

2 » With the 2011 NBA Draft now in the books, ESPN’s Chad Ford has already released his top 100 for 2012 and two familiar names are at the top of his list. Gators five-star freshman guard Brad Beal comes in at No. 6 on Ford’s list, while sophomore center Patric Young ranks No. 11 out of all NBA Draft prospects who could be available a year from now. Though Beal has made no indications one way or another about his college plans, Young has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to stay three-to-four years and graduate before playing in the NBA. Speaking of Young, he competed with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team in an exhibition contest against Lithuania’s U20 team on Sunday, a game that his squad lost 101-72. Young played 25 minutes (third-most on the team) and went 2-for-7 with five points, six boards, an assist and a steal.

3 » Competing in what was basically a tryout during an exhibition game up in Canada, former Florida wide receiver Dallas Baker earned a roster spot with the Montreal Alouettes. Baker, who is ready to continue working hard now that he’s made the team, will play boundary receiver for one of the CFL’s best squads. “This means a lot, but I can’t stop working,” Baker told the Montreal Gazette. “I’ve been in this situation before, where I made the team and got cut.”

4 » On the other end of the spectrum, former Gators quarterback Chris Leak was cut by the Saskatchewan Roughriders when their final dismissals were decided over the weekend. Leak, who spent a few years with Montreal, is on the radar of the Calgary Stampeders, which have already reached out to him.

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SIX BITS: Young, Muschamp, Meyer, Ogbueze

1 » Florida Gators sophomore center Patric Young was announced Sunday as one of 13 players to earn a spot on the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team. Following a two-day tryout in Colorado Springs, CO led in part by Florida head coach Billy Donovan, Young was picked as a finalist for the team while sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was cut. Young will now take part in the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia over the next few weeks.

While in Colorado Springs, Young was profiled by USA Basketball’s website and spoke about the trials and tribulations he faced during his freshman season. “There was definitely a dark period,” he said. “It was definitely a distraction. I was buying into how good people kept telling me I was and could be and let them influence the type of player I should be and my expectations for myself. I definitely let it all get to my head, and it wasn’t helping me.” Young praised Donovan for helping him clear his head and concentrate on the game. “Because of Coach Donovan, I just don’t listen to the other things anymore,” he added. “I feel like I have a lot of potential, but there’s a lot of room left to grow. I think I’m alright and I could be a good player, but when I do something that no one has ever done before, that’s when I’ll consider myself a great player. […] He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, definitely the best coach I’ve ever had in my life. He’s helped me grow on the court and learn the game in a while new way. I really wouldn’t be anything without him. After just one year with him at Florida, I thought to myself, ‘What have I been doing my whole life?’ It’s amazing how much he taught me in one year.”

2 » University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter sat down with Gators head football coach Will Muschamp’s father Larry Muschamp for a feature about their relationship, growing up in Gainesville, FL and what if anything he passed on to him coaching-wise. “I’ve given him more advice than I should have,” Larry said. “We were just close and football was one of the things that held us together. Will is a driver. He is driven and that’s just the way he is. I don’t think I was ever driven that much and I loved coaching. I loved it tremendously, but I was not as dedicated as Will.” Read the rest of Carter’s story.

3 » No longer confined by the rigors of coaching, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer got the opportunity to relax on the lake this Father’s Day. Here is a picture taken by his daughter, Gigi Meyer, of her father wakeboarding:

4 » Gators sophomore right-handed pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson should have had the second home run in TD Ameritrade Park history on Saturday. Instead, his three-run shot to right-center field was ruled a two-RBI double after umpires decided that it had hit the top of the wall. Late Saturday, NCAA umpiring coordinator Gene McArtor acknowledged the blown call, which was clearly a home run on television instant replay. “The batted ball … was mistakenly ruled in play rather than a home run,” he said, noting that video replay is not allowed in NCAA rules.

5 » Florida four-star 2012 point guard commit Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) competed in the NBPA Top 100 camp this past week and drew rave reviews from many of those who got a chance to watch him. Eric Bossi of Rivals.com wrote the following about him Sunday: “A natural scorer at heart, the future Florida Gator sacrificed some of his offense to run his team. He was effective in pick and roll, made good decisions and played much more under control than he had earlier in the spring.”

6 » Speaking with his hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, Ogbueze opened up a bit more about his decision to commit to the Gators. “I always believed you need to go where you are wanted the most,” he said. “To me, it felt like Florida wanted me the most. And you can never go wrong with whoever wants you the most. […] I thought playing under Billy Donovan would be a great fit for me because he was also a successful point guard at the highest level in the Big East at Providence. I think I can learn from him.”

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Young, Wilbekin hope to make USA U19 team

Set to compete in the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp from June 17-24 in Colorado Springs, CO, Florida Gators sophomores center Patric Young and freshman Scottie Wilbekin both hope to earn a spot on USA Basketball’s team for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship taking place in Latvia from June-July.

Speaking with the media on Monday, both players conveyed their excitement and how important making the team is to them.

“Guys definitely want to make this team,’’ Young said. “It’s cutthroat. Guys are coming out there and bringing out their A-game. Some guys have great defense, great offense, but it comes down to how great of a team player you are and what you can bring.’’

Wilbekin agreed. “I watch the Olympics every four years, just to get the opportunity to do something like this is really special to me,’’ he said.

Young also appreciates the opportunity he has been afforded to play for his country.

“There’s some national pride,’’ he said. “You go out there and everyone cheers for us because we are the United States. We have that ability to represent the United States at such a young age, it’s so great.’’

Not only will the duo be competing for a spot on the national team, they will be doing so in front of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who was hired as a court coach for the training camp. While that may seem like an advantage, Donovan will no doubt be tougher on them and expect even more from his players.

“It’s going to be a little bit of pressure on me to perform a little bit better,” Young said. “It’s encouraging that Coach Donovan is invited to come out there.”

To prepare for the camp and his sophomore season, Young said he has added 10 pounds of muscle (pushing him to 255) and has been concentrating on improving his overall offensive game. Wilbekin has been doing the same, focusing on making his shot more consistent and increasing an already impressive assist-to-turnover ratio.

Special thanks to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway and the University of Florida’s Scott Carter for the quotes in this post.

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Donovan new court coach for USA Basketball

USA Basketball announced Wednesday that Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has been selected as a court coach for the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp from June 17-24 in Colorado Spring, CO.

“I’m excited to work with this group of talented players from all over the country, including a couple of Gators,” Donovan said in an official release from the school. “USA Basketball has done a great job assembling this team, and I look forward to contributing to their preparations for the U19 World Championship.”

Donovan will join Jerry Carrillo (Cochise County College) and Dan Miles (Oregon Tech), who are taking on the same role, in coaching up the 21 players competing for a spot on the 12-man national team that will participate in June and July at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia.

Florida sophomores center Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin are two of the 21 players trying out; the former is favored to earn a spot on the team, while the latter will likely have to work hard to crack the roster.

Gators five-star 2011 signee guard Brad Beal was originally scheduled to compete in the training camp but withdrew in order to get assimilated with college life.

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Wilbekin, Harvey, Zunino

1 » Florida Gators five-star guard signee Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) withdrew from the training camp for the 2011 USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team, the organization announced on Monday. Beal, along with sophomore center Patric Young, was previously planning on trying out for the team that will represent the USA at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia. Instead he has decided to get acclimated with college life in Gainesville, FL. “I just wanted to go to school so I could get used to campus, get used to being in college,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. Beal’s departure from the camp comes at the same time that sophomore point guard Scottie Wilbekin was given an invitation to join it; he will do so on June 17 alongside Young.

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told his team’s website over the weekend that he is very discouraged with the progress of their first-round selection from the 2008 NFL Draft, No. 8 overall pick defensive end Derrick Harvey. “He’s still young,” Smith said. “He was a high draft choice and he has had a lot of starts for us. He’s still young. You hope at some point he’s going to be able to make a move. He did not make that last year during the season. We had some guys earn the opportunity to play over him.” Harvey has been properly labeled a “bust” up until this point and only notched 2.5 sacks in 2010 as a backup.

3 » Gators sophomore catcher Mike Zunino has been named one of three finalists for the 2011 Johnny Bench Award, given annually to college baseball’s top catcher. It is voted on by a panel consisting of media members, coaches and professional scouts and announced during the College World Series. Zunino is hitting .371 on the season with 16 home runs, 62 RBI, 86 hits, 68 runs scored, 28 walks and 155 total bases. He is also slugging .668, gets on base at a .442 rate and is fielding his position at a .996 clip.

4 » Trying to make some money on Florida football’s off-the-field problems, BetUS has placed odds on whether or not legal issues will arise for the Gators this year. The two lines available to wager on – total team arrests in 2011 (10/13 odds for Over 2, 10/11 odds for Under 2) and the severity of the next arrest (5/9 misdemeanor, 7/5 felony) – are just some of the interesting prop bets available on the site. As pointed out by the Sentinel’s Rachel George, you can also wager on which school will be the next to commit a NCAA violation and which sport that violation will be attributed to (among others).

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FOUR BITS: softball falls, Horford, Jenkins, USA

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators softball (47-9, 21-7 SEC) was shocked Thursday as they were upset 6-2 by the Auburn Tigers (39-16, 15-13 SEC) in the first round of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament. The No. 2 seed going into the event, Florida fell behind 3-0 in the first inning before cutting the lead to 3-1 on a RBI single by senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, RBI) in the bottom of the fourth. No. 7-seed Auburn responded immediately, scoring three runs in the next frame to jump ahead 6-1 and hold on for the victory. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (17-2) got the start but was pulled after giving up three runs (one earned) in the first inning. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers came on for the final six innings and struck out three while similarly giving up three runs (one earned). UF committed three errors on the day.

2 » Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford, currently fighting to stay alive against the Chicago Bulls in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, was named to the All-NBA Third Team on Thursday. It is Horford’s first career All-NBA selection and the first ever for a former Gators basketball player.

3 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins has had a not guilty plea submitted by his attorney on his behalf for his most recent charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Attorney Huntley Johnson, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun about the plea, also said that Jenkins will likely transfer to either North Alabama or Valdosta State to play football next season. A report Wednesday stated that Jenkins to North Alabama was a done deal; however, it appears that Jenkins is at least still considering his options.

4 » Seventeen of the top young basketball players in the nation were invited to attend the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship training camp held June 17-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Two of those 17 players selected Thursday are Gators freshman center Patric Young and 2011 signee guard Brad Beal; each accepted his respective invitation. Twelve of the 17 invitees will be picked for the team. Young and Beal each have a great chance of being selected at the end of the camp. “I know Patric and Brad are both excited about this invitation,” Florida head coach Billy Donovan said in a team-released statement. “It’s a unique opportunity for a player, so it’s an honor for them to be a part of this group.” The 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship will be held June 30 to July 10 in Latvia. The United States is in Group D with China, Egypt and Serbia.

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