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January 25, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators fans were thrilled to learn Thursday evening that a pair of former basketball players - David Lee of the Golden State Warriors and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls - were named reserves for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. Lee, earning his second career All-Star nod (2010), has been one of the Western Conference's best players through the first half of the season. He is averaging 19.6 points and a team-high 10.8 rebounds and ahs registered 17 total 20-point, 10-rebound games, the most in the NBA up to this point. Noah will be making his first All-Star appearance after averaging 12.2 points and team-highs of 10.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks so far this season. Potentially joining the duo in Houston, TX for All-Star Weekend are Washington Wizards guard Brad Beal and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who are likely choices for the Rising Stars Challenge that features first- and second-year NBA players. Beal has been having the best month of his young career, while Parsons is fitting in nicely with the revamped Houston team.
Another former Florida player in the NBA, center Marreese Speights will be playing for his third team in as many seasons when he dons a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform on Friday. Speights was traded on Tuesday from Memphis to Cleveland just months after the former team signed him to a two-year, $8 million contract. He was originally acquired by the Grizzlies via trade as a replacement for Zach Randolph last season; however, Randolph's continued health and the team's need to dump salary made Speights an expendable player. He is averaging 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game this season but should see more court time with the Cavaliers.
Though rumors had him eventually landing in Louisville, former Gators safety De'Ante Saunders has instead decided to transfer to Tennessee State. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Saunders chose to transfer to an FCS school in order to play right away without sitting out an NCAA-mandated redshirt season. He will join fellow former Florida player A.C. Leonard at Tennessee State; Leonard had a fantastic 2012 season for TSU, grabbing 51 receptions for team-highs of 733 yards and six touchdowns over 10 games.
On Sunday, former Gators golfer Brian Gay qualified for the 2013 Masters by winning the 2013 Humana Challenge. Gay registered a birdie on the second playoff hole to finish with a nine-under 63 for the event. At 41 years old, Gay registered just his fourth PGA Tour victory over the weekend and will be playing at Augusta National for just the second time in his long career. He did not earn a spot in the event without being forced to scrap down the stretch. After hitting birdie on nine of the first 13 holes of his final round, Gay registered par on holes 14-18. He missed a birdie put on 18 for a chance to win in regulation but birdied each of his playoff holes to pull out the big win.
Released Tuesday was the final Rivals250 for the 2013 recruiting class. As ITG has covered previously, Florida has 13 players on the list and is in contention or plenty of others. Interesting to note from the new list is that nine of the Gators' 13 commitments dropped an average of 17 spots with four-star linebacker Daniel McMillian (123, -30), four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (132, -29) and four-star defensive back Nick Washington (164, -36) receiving the worst news. On the other hand, four-star wide receiver Alvin Bailey (63, +38) shot up the charts, as did newly-minted five-star LB Alex Anzalone (28, +22). The Gators have now received a commitment from a top-five player (five-star DB Vernon Hargreaves) in three of the last four recruiting cycles. Florida has also picked up the No. 2 overall-ranked prospect in each of the last two years (Hargreaves in 2013, offensive tackle D.J. Humphries in 2012). One other interesting note? Twelve of the 13 UF commits ranked in the final Rivals250 are from the state of Florida with Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA) being the sole exception.
Some might think that John Elway has nothing but disdain for Tim Tebow but in an interview with the Boomer & Carton radio program on Thursday morning, Elway spoke at length about the player, why he was traded from the Denver Broncos and whether or not he has a future in the NFL. "I think Tim Tebow has a lot of fans. You know, and I had to take care of the Denver Broncos," he said, "and Peyton Manning was the best thing for the Denver Broncos." He later said that "in the right situation I think [Tebow playing] is a possibility" because "he's a good kid and he works his tail off." Elway also confirmed for a third time that it was Tebow who chose to play for the New York Jets after Denver gave him the option to be traded either there or to the Jacksonville Jaguars. "We said, 'It's up to you,'" Elway said. "I will tell you that we did give him the option."