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Gator Report

Antonya English

Gators Kelsey Stewart and Lauren Haeger earn SEC Player and Pitcher of the Year honors

Florida's Kelsey Stewart was named SEC Player of the Year and teammate Lauren Haeger was named SEC Pitcher of the Year, the league anounced today.

Junior Kirsti Merritt joins Haeger and Stewart as First Team All-SEC selections, while infielder Nicole DeWitt and utility player Aleshia Ocasio earned spots on the Freshman All-SEC team. Florida is the top fielding team in the country according to the latest NCAA statistics, and Stewart and Kathlyn Medina were selected to the SEC All-Defensive team.

Stewart is the fifth Gator to be named SEC Player of the Year, and the first since Michelle Moultrie in 2012. She has been chosen to an All-SEC Team in each of her three years (2014 – First Team, All-Defensive; 2013 – Second Team, Freshman All-SEC).

Haeger earned UF's third SEC Pitcher of the Year award, and the first since Stacey Nelson won the honor for the second consecutive season in 2009. The right-hander earns her third career All-SEC selection (2013 – First Team; 2012 – Freshman All-SEC). In coach Tim Walton’s 10 seasons, the Gators have earned four conference Player of the Year selections and three Pitcher of the Year honors. …

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Billy Donovan hopes to be remembered for more than wins and losses

Billy Donovan won 502 games and two national titles at Florida.

But when people look back on his impact with the Gators and remember his legacy, Donovan, who is leaving after 19 years to become the head coach with the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunders, hopes he'll be judged by more than just wins and losses.

"I think that people will always look at wins and losses and those kinds of things," Donovan said Monday at his farewell press conference. "I hope that I'm able to leave a big gaping hole here, and I don't mean that from an arrogant standpoint. I mean that that I was able to make an impact. That I was able to impact people's lives. That I was able to bring value to people. That I was able to help
people grow from staff to players to the administration.

"I just hope that I brought value," Donovan added.I hope I made Florida better.  I'm not talking about from wins and losses.  I hope I made Florida better as an institution. I want the people in the community to kind of remember me as somebody that really cared deeply because I had my kids grow up in their primary years and their development had a lot to do with the community and the people here." …

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Gators finish with eight players selected in 2015 NFL Draft

At final tally, the Florida Gators had eight players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In today's final rounds, four Gators were selected.

The eight players drafted is two shy of the school record, and the Gators had six offensive players taken in same draft for the first time since 1978 (eight rounds).

Offensive lineman Max Garcia was a fourth round selection by the Denver Broncos today. LB Neiron Ball was selected in the fourth round, WR Andre Debose was taken in the seventh round - both by the Oakland Raiders. OL Trenton Brown was the final Gator picked as he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round.

Those players join DL Dante Fowler, Jr., who was the No. 3 overall selection to Jacksonville on Thursday night; OL D.J. Humphries who was the No. 27 overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round; OL Chaz Green (Tampa Catholic), who was selected in the third round by Dallas and TB Matt Jones (Armwood) who was selected in third round by Washington.

With Humphries, Green, Garcia and Brown getting drafted, it marks the first year the Gators have had four offensive lineman selected in the Common Draft Era (1967). …

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Gators offensive lineman D.J. Humphries selected No. 24 overall by Arizona Cardinals

D.J. Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

AP photo

D.J. Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

Former Florida offensive lineman D.J. Humphries was selected No. 24 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Draft Thursday night.

Humphries is the first Gator offensive lineman selected in the first round since Mike Pouncey was the 15th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.

The Gators have now had six first round draft picks in the last three years. Earlier Thursday, Dante Fowler, Jr. was selected at No. 3 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Florida had two players selected in the first round for the second time in the last three years.

"This is a great fit," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after Humphries was selected. "(D.J.'s) got the best feet of any offensive tackle in the draft. He can start on the right side or the left. He's an immediate starter."

 

 

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Billy Donovan leaving Gators for NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

[Getty Images (2014)]

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

Billy Donovan is leaving Florida for the NBA.

Donovan 49, has been hired as the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Florida and Oklahoma City officials announced this afternoon.

Donovan leaves after 19 seasons and two national titles at Florida. He joined the Gators’ staff in 1996 after spending two years at Marshall University – his first head coaching job.

Donovan is the third head coach for the OKC franchise.

“I want to thank Jeremy Foley, the players, coaches and staff I’ve had the chance to work with during my time at Florida,” Donovan said. “The administrative support and stability has been unbelievable here, and it is an incredibly difficult decision to leave that. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation.”

Yahoo Sports has reported that Donovan will receive a five-year deal. …

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Is Oklahoma City really an ideal NBA job for Billy Donovan?

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

[Getty Images (2014)]

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

Much of the talk surrounding whether Billy Donovan should leave Florida and become the head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder has centered around the notion that this is the ideal NBA situation for Donovan.

He has a longstanding relationship with general manager Sam Presti and the Thunder has two of the best young players in the league in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

But not everyone is so certain it's a ready-made situation for success for Donovan.

Former NBA All-Star and now TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal said lack of experience may be a factor with Donovan, who has never coached in the NBA.

"When those guys are healthy, OKC, they are right there, they an elite team," O'Neal said during TNT's "Inside the NBA" postgame broadcast early Thursday morning. "In my opinion, I think they need a more experienced coach to help take them to the next level. Because we don't just want to see them lose in the first, second or third round. We want a championship."

TNT analyst Kenny Smith said "It's championsip or bust."

Smith said the issue he sees with Donovan taking the OKC job is the need to win immediately. …

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Yahoo Sports says OKC job is Billy Donovan's to lose

If Billy Donovan wants the Oklahoma City Thunder head coaching job, it's his for the taking according to sources for Yahoo Sports.

Getty Images

If Billy Donovan wants the Oklahoma City Thunder head coaching job, it's his for the taking according to sources for Yahoo Sports.

If Billy Donovan wants the Oklahoma City Thunder head coaching job, it's his for the taking according to sources for Yahoo Sports.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports are reporting that Thunder management is preparing an offer for Donovan and are pushing for him to accept it.

Yahoo says the deal most likely would have to be in the $6 million a year range. Donovan currently makes about $4 million annually with the Gators.

Florida athletic officials are aware that Donovan is having conversations with the Thundar about the job. Donovan's contract with the Gators runs through 2020, but there's a reason his buyout is only $500,000.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has long held the belief that if a coach wants to be somewhere else, he wants to let them go. His philosophy is that if a coach isn't totally committed to the Gators, he or she shouldn't be there, thus no need for a huge buyout clause in contracts.

Here's more on the story from Yahoo Sports.

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ESPN sources: Billy Donovan opens talk with Oklahoma City

Billy Donovan, 49, recently agreed to a contract extension with the Gators through 2020.

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Billy Donovan, 49, recently agreed to a contract extension with the Gators through 2020.

ESPN is reporting that Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan has opened talks with the Oklahoma City Thunder about its vacant head coaching job.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, league sources have told him that the Thunder have formally commenced discussions about their vacant coaching job with Donovan.

Donovan, 49, recently agreed to a contract extension with the Gators through 2020, but when OKC coach Scott Brooks was fired last week, Donovan's name immediately emerged as among the leading candidates.

After UConn coach Kevin Ollie officially removed himself from consideration, Donovan reportedly became the go-to-guy.

Here is more on the story and what sources are telling Stein.

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Gators guard Eli Carter to transfer

Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter has decided to transfer.

Carter, who will graduate in May, will be eligible to play immediately at another school.

“I’ll always appreciate the coaches, teammates and fans that made my time here memorable," Carter said.

His departure is the third for the Gators over the past month. Junior G Michael Frazier and sophomore F/C Chris Walker have both declared for the NBA Draft.

Carter transferred from Rutgers after the 2012-13 season, but his time at UF wasn't without its complications.

A fractured fibula in his right leg that he suffered at Rutgers continued to be a problem after his arrival in Gainesville. He played a total of 53 minutes in seven games in 2013-14 before sitting out the remainder of the season for more rehabilitation on his leg.

Carter played in 28 games this past season, with 17 starts. He averaged 8.8 points and 2.0 rebounds, and shot 36 percent from the field.

“We all wish him well and will do whatever we can to help him take this next step in his career," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. …

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Gators to open 2015 basketball season in Veterans Classic

Florida will open the 2015 basketball season in the Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

The event, which will be held on Nov. 13, will include North Carolina vs. Temple at 7 p.m., followed by Florida vs. Navy at 9:30 p.m. The games will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

“We are proud to once again host the Veterans Classic and pay tribute to all veterans that served our country," Navy head coach Ed Dechellis said. "We have an outstanding field this year with Florida, North Carolina and Temple and for the young men coming to play it's an opportunity to live the life of a midshipman for a day. The teams will be on our campus during the week of Veterans Day and will interact with the Brigade of Midshipmen, active members of the military and veterans. We have some special things planned for the three visiting teams and it will be a great night of basketball as well. CBS Sports Network has been a great partner and they do an unbelievable job with the production of the event.”

Along with games, the participating schools will have an opportunity to get a glimpse of what life is like as a midshipman at the Naval Academy.  …

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Gators sophomore Chris Walker declares for NBA Draft

He was expected to be one of the rare one-and-done players for Florida coach Billy Donovan.

Instead, Chris Walker is two-and-done.

Florida announced today that the sophomore forward has declared for the NBA Draft, and will not return for his junior season. During part of two seasons Walker played in 49 games for Florida.

Walker joins Michael Frazier II, of Tampa, as early entries off UF’s 2014-15 team.

“I want to thank the coaching staff, my teammates and everyone at Florida for my experience here,” Walker said. “I’m excited to continue pursuing my dream of playing professionally.”

Walker was a highly-touted recruit out of Bonifay, and at 6-foot-10 dominated the high school and AAU circuit. But academic and NCAA eligibility issues forced him to miss all of the fall and nearly two months of the spring his freshman season. He played in just 18 games.

Walker played in 31 games this season, with six starts, averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He had five double-figure scoring games this past season, and a career-best five blocks in Florida’s win vs. Vanderbilt on Feb. 18. …

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Stunner in Gainesville: Gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn leaving for job with USA Gymnastics

Less than one week after leading Florida to its third consecutive NCAA gymnastics championship, Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn has resigned to take a position with USA Gymnastics.

The 43-year-old will become senior vice president of USA Gymnastics, Florida athletic officials announced on Friday.

“It was incredibly hard,” Faehn said. “I absolutely love Florida and what the University of Florida stands for.  At the same time, I really feel there is another plan for me. I’m still going to be doing what I love and hopefully making an impact on the lives of a lot of athletes who will be representing our country.”

Faehn just completed her 13th season with the Gators. She is one of just two UF coaches to win three straight NCAA titles. Over the past six seasons, Faehn signed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class five times. …

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Gators DB J.C. Jackson pleads not guilty to armed robbery

Gators defensive back J.C. Jackson has pled not guilty to three counts of first-degree felony armed robbery, according to court records.

Jackson, who was released from jail earlier this week on $150,000 bond, entered a written plea to the charges Thursday morning.

Jackson was arrested Sunday after he allegedly aided in a robbbery in a southwest Gainesville apartment where $382 and two gaming systems were taken while the alleged victims were held at gunpoint.

An Immokalee native, Jackson has retained Naples attorney Chris Brown for representation.

Jackson is accused of going to the apartment of an acquaintance to smoke marijuana, and taking two unidentified men with him. After Jackson left the apartment acting as if he had received a phone call, the other two men allegedly robbed the place.

Jackson is currently suspended from the team.

 

 

 

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Scott Brooks' firing fuels speculation about Billy Donovan's future with the Gators

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

Getty Images (2014)

Gators head coach Billy Donovan looks on during the second half of the Nov. 21 game against Louisiana Monroe at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.

The rumors have now advanced to the heavy speculation stage.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has reportedly fired coach Scott Brooks, and Florida coach Billy Donovan has immediately been named as someone Presti will target as a replacement.

According to Yahoo Sports, sources have said Donovan is "a serious potential candidate to replace Brooks."

Former NBA player and UConn coach Kevin Ollie is also reportedly a top candidate, but Ollie issued a statement today that he has no plans to pursue another coaching job.

Donovan has not responded to the reports.

Donovan and Presti have a personal relationship, and Presti has reportedly openly expressed his admiration for Donovan as a coach.

But there are some lingering questions about whether Donovan would take a job with the Thunder.

Donovan's buyout is only $500,000, so if an NBA team wants him that would be no deterrent.

But Donovan has often spoken of his appreciation of athletic director Jeremy Foley because of the stability of having the same boss for the past two decades. …

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SEC "experts" rank Gainesville among worst league towns

When it comes to college towns unless you're - well in college - Gainesville ain't that great.

At least that's the opinion of 12 SEC "experts".

Athlon Sports asked 12 people, including longtime sports broadcaster Tim Brando and veteran college football writer Tony Barnhart, to rate the 14 SEC towns.

Gainesville came in at No. 11.

Nashville was No. 1, and probably no surprise, Starkville, Miss., was dead last.

Among the issues the experts have with Gainesville? "Unless you are an undergrad at the university, there isn't a whole lot to the city of Gainesville."

Let the debate begin.

Find out more about why Gainesville ranked so low - and where the rest of the SEC ranked.

 

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