TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

1 » Training camp for many NBA teams begins on Tuesday and there are currently 15 former Florida Gators on rosters with 12 assured of making the cut out of training camp this season. Guard Bradley Beal (Washington), forward Matt Bonner (San Antonio), F Corey Brewer (Minnesota), point guard Nick Calathes (Memphis), power forward Udonis Haslem (Miami), PF Al Horford (Atlanta), PF David Lee (Golden State), F Mike Miller (Cleveland), center Joakim Noah (Chicago), F Chandler Parsons (Dallas), PF Marreese Speights (Golden State) and C Patric Young (New Orleans) will all certainly find their way onto regular-season rosters. Also competing in training camp right now are PF Vernon Macklin (New Orleans), F Erik Murphy (Boston) and F Casey Prather (Phoenix). Murphy has barely played since being selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft and will be on his fourth team in just over one full season. Macklin and Prather both received non-guaranteed, league-minimum training camp contracts.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

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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.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Parsons, Miller, Summer Leagues

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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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FOUR BITS: Parsons, Zunino, Macklin, Fulwood

1 » The Dallas Mavericks, unlikely to land Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James in free agency, have set their sights on Houston Rockets restricted free agent Chandler Parsons. ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard and Yahoo! Sports insider Adrian Wojnarowski both reported Monday that Parsons is very much on the open market considering a number of options but that Dallas is the most likely team other than Houston to make a major play for the small forward. Parsons is coming off a career-best year in which he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. The Rockets did not pick up his team option as the franchise was hoping to pursue a big-name free agent before potentially bringing him back into the fold. Houston hopes that some of the other major stars will make their decisions before July 10, which is when Dallas will likely make Parsons a serious offer; the Rockets would then have just three days to match the Mavericks’ term sheet.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Parsons, Zunino, Macklin, Fulwood

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Macklin, Reed, Beal, Miller

1 » The first session of the NBA Summer League began on Saturday and will last from July 5-11 in Orlando, Florida. Only two of the 10 teams participating have former Florida Gators on their rosters with rookie point guard Scottie Wilbekin playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and center Vernon Macklin getting run with the Orlando Magic. Macklin posted two points and two boards in 17 minutes on Saturday, while Wilbekin finished with five assists, two rebounds, a steal and a turnover in 13 minutes. Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.

Sunday, July 6 at 3 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Detroit
Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » Though concussion issues cut short his rookie season, tight end Jordan Reed continues to draw praise from members of the Washington football team. Quarterback Robert Griffin III told FOXSports.com this week that he is thrilled with how well Reed played during workouts this offseason. “I think he’s one of the most talented tight ends in the league,” he said. “He’ll have an opportunity to show that. He’s a guy that runs some of the best routes I’ve ever seen. … If he knows what he’s doing, where he’s going and he knows how he’s trying to get there, you can’t cover him. That’s a good asset to have. … You want to throw it to a guy that’s going to catch it every time. You want to throw it to a guy who is going to secure that catch.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Macklin, Reed, Beal, Miller

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17 Gator Bites for Tuesday, May 7

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» The relationship between Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels and the Florida Gators has soured. According to ESPN 106.3 out of West Palm Beach, FL, Daniels is angry that two former Dwyer players who committed to Florida but have since left the program (quarterback Jacoby Brissett and tight end Gerald Christian) did not get the opportunities they were promised with the team. “I’ve said all along, I don’t think he’s been given the fair shot which was said was going to happen,” Daniels said in regards to Brissett. “It was made clear to him, and to everybody else, that it didn’t matter what Jeff Driskel did, it was [Driskel’s] job and going into next fall, it’s going to be the same way. I think he had no choice. If I was quarterback on that team last year, I might have been able to get some wins, the way their defense was playing.” He continued: “The way Jacoby was handled and the decision that was made…if it was my kid, I wouldn’t expect anybody to treat my kid like that, and I don’t think anybody should treat anybody like that. I think it was a complete lie about how he was going to be given a fair chance and I don’t think there’s anything to dispute that there wasn’t a lie.”

Despite all of this – including similar comments about how Christian “was frustrated and felt like the coaches were lying to him” – Daniels (a Florida alumnus) said he will not dissuade his students from playing for the Gators. “I can’t hold a grudge forever and I still talk to Coach [Will] Muschamp,” he said. “I would never steer a kid away.”

» Former Florida wide receiver Stephen Alli was selected with the second pick in the sixth round of the 2013 CFL Draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the weekend. Alli, who would have been chosen higher had he committed to playing in the CFL next season, will instead attend graduate school and continue his education at UF.

» He may currently be a free agent hoping for the opportunity to continue his NFL career, but former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow received a shred of good news this week when Forbes named him the most influential athlete in the United States. “A unique set of QB strengths and weaknesses and an affinity for wearing his Christian faith on his sleeve combine to make Tebow a compelling public figure, even as an NFL backup,” staff member Tom Van Riper wrote.

Check out 14 more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow

1 » Despite ending their 2013 NCAA Tournament run in the Elite Eight for the third-straight year, Florida Gators basketball was placed at No. 9 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 poll of the 2012-13 season. Florida was not the only Elite Eight team to fall outside the top eight of the poll, however, as Marquette checked in at No. 11 in the final rankings. Indiana (Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse) and Kansas (Sweet 16 loss to Michigan) took the two other spots in the top eight. The Gators also checked in at No. 9 and No. 10 in 2011-12 and 2010-11, respectively, after losing in the Elite Eight. Florida will likely enter the 2013-14 campaign ranked in the preseason top-10.

2 » No. 2 Gators women’s tennis (17-2, 10-1 SEC) ran through its competition over the weekend, extending their winning streaks to 10 consecutive team matches and 30-straight individual matches. Florida swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-10, 4-6 SEC) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-12, 1-10 SEC) in a pair of home showdowns over the weekend at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The Gators won all 11 matches and had the opportunity to celebrate Senior Day against the Bulldogs on Sunday. Seniors No. 1 Lauren Embree and No. 125 Caroline Hitimana were each unable to finish their singles matches due to Florida registering a quick 4-0 victory but both won their doubles contests. The No. 20 duo of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen picked up an 8-2 win, while Hitimana and junior Alex Cercone won 8-0.

On Monday, head coach Roland Thornqvist praised Embree at his press conference, making note of her incredible career and tremendous work ethic. “You want to know why Lauren Embree is the best college player to ever play the game?” he asked rhetorically. “It was Monday morning at 8:30, and after a weekend full of matches and practices, she runs to the courts, hits serves for 30 minutes, then I show up and we go at it [on the court] for an hour and 15 minutes. By 10:00, she’s done with two workouts already while the rest of tennis America is still sleeping. That’s why we’re good and that’s why she’s good. She sets the tone, the bar is high, and I think everybody feeds off of it. We’ve just been blessed to have that for four years. Frankly, it’s just amazing.” The Gators women’s tennis program is hoping to win its third-straight national title.

Read four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Johnson, Macklin, Pouncey, Foley

1 » Former Florida Gators left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson, a first round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox, took a line drive to the face on Saturday while pitching during the Futures at Fenway doubleheader that showcased the team’s minor leaguers. The organization announced shortly after he arrived at the hospital that Johnson has multiple orbital bone fractures on the left side of his face but neither suffered a concussion nor lost consciousness. Eye-witness reports noted that Johnson waved to the crowd when he was carted off the field. Boston’s Short-Season A affiliate, the Lowell Spinners, posted a Facebook update on Sunday that said he “popped by the park today after leaving the hospital and is in good spirits.” Fellow former Gators pitcher Tommy Toledo took a similar line drive to the face on March 14, 2009 during a game against Charleston Southern.

2 » Free agent forward/center Vernon Macklin, who was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft but did not receive a qualifying offer from the team following the season, has chosen to sign with Gaziantep of the Turkish Basketball League. “Vernon decided to turn down three NBA camp invites,” agent Greg Nunn told HoopsHype. “He feels he needs to play to showcase his talents and return to the NBA next year.” Macklin averaged 5.9 minutes of action in 23 games last season, registering 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds. He was invited to Detroit’s summer league team but not picked up by the organization for the main roster.

3 » Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey recently answered four questions for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and gave this gem of a reply when asked about taking Bowling at the University of Florida:

“Oh yeah, it went great. It went awesome for me. Passed that one with flying colors. [My average] was terrible. I didn’t really care, I just wanted to play that game. I couldn’t do the spin thing – I’m usually a gutter ball type of guy.”

4 » Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley recently told GatorZone.com that he is pleased with the progress that the football team is making as well as the job that head coach Will Muschamp is doing in year two at the helm of the program.

“I just met with the football staff and I see it building. Like anything, it doesn’t get built overnight. All coaches want that and all fans want that. I get that, but if it’s going to be something substantial, and it’s going to be built to last, it’s got to be built the right way. I see that in terms of what is happening with our team: discipline, the weight room, academically. I see the buy-in from the players. I see the way the staff works. At the end of the day, you’re judged on winning games in any sport, but I see it building to where Gator fans want it to be and where Will wants it to be. I think that’s very exciting. If we’re going to build it, we’re going to build it the right way. Will has said that a thousand times. He’s building a program here and that’s what you want – a program built to last.”

It also would have been extremely interesting to read Foley’s answer to a potential follow-up question (Was the program previously not built the right way?) to that response.

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