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June 28, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators forward Erik Murphy became the third Florida player since 2003 drafted by the Chicago Bulls when the team from the Windy City selected him with the No. 49 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday evening. Though Murphy never worked out for the Bulls, he and his agent had been hearing good things about Chicago's interest in him leading into the draft. Murphy is now the fourth Gators player in the last three years and 11th Florida prospect since 2007 to be drafted. He's head coach Billy Donovan's 17th draft selection and UF's 35th in school history. Murphy is excited for the opportunity to be on the same team with Joakim Noah; the two never played together with the Gators but have become friends considering how often Noah comes down to Gainesville, FL, to visit and work out with the team. "I Know Jo really well," Murphy told me Thursday night after being drafted. "Out of the Florida guys I did not play with that come back to school, I'm definitely closest to him. It's nice to have that connection and potentially be his teammate. I'm really excited about that possibility." I tried (but failed) to reach Noah for comment. He tweeted: "Murph and turph!!!!!!!!" so obviously he is excited about the opportunity as well.
[Related: Murphy drafted by Chicago]
A short while before the draft commenced, the Gators got some good news from four-star guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL), the No. 25-ranked player in the latest Rivals150 (which just happened to be released on Thursday). A 6-foot-5, 200-pound scorer originally from the Dominican Republic, Francis is friends with former Florida F Al Horford and has long wanted to play for the Gators. An unranked three-star prospect at the beginning of the summer, Francis has seen evaluations of his ability skyrocket recently. He was unable to participate in AAU games during the summer of 2012 due to a broken wrist but evaluators and teams are finally starting to catch on to what he can do. With four-star 2014 point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) already in the fold for Florida, the Gators can now focus on strengthening a frontcourt that will lose, at the very least, rising seniors center Patric Young and F Will Yeguete at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.
[Related: Donovan nabs nation's No. 25 rated prospect]
The draft rolls around and former Florida PG Nick Calathes talks about possibly playing in the NBA for the upcoming season - it is a story that seems to come out every single year around this time. Calathes, who has spent the last four years playing overseas, was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with a 2009 second-round pick. The team holds his rights in perpetuity. However, Dallas just drafted PG Shane Larkin on Thursday, meaning even if Calathes somehow found his way to the Mavericks, he would be at the end of the bench not earning much money. For a player who earned MVP honors last season while playing for his new Russian squad, Lokomotiv Kuban, and is still under contract with the team for another year, the NBA once again not looking like a possibility for Calathes. Dallas could always trade his rights for a second-round pick, of course, but a team would also have to buy him out from his Lokomotiv deal, and it does not look like anyone is willing to do that at this time.
Only three years old, the men's version of the Capital One Cup had been won by Florida in each of the first two years it existed, but the Gators were unable to pull out a three-peat and can no longer claim to be the only program to win the award. It was announced on Thursday that UCLA (92 points) beat out Indiana (88), Texas A&M (88), Florida (86) and Duke (82) for the 2013 cup with the Bruins' College World Series title propelling the program over the top. UF's women did not fare any better, worse actually, finishing sixth in their respective standings. The Gators also officially came in second in the 2012-13 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup, finishing second to Stanford once again. Florida lost by 16.5 points, which is the closest margin between first and second place in the history of the Directors' Cup, which used to be handed out by the New York Times Media Group.
Reggie Nelson saw first-hand what his former teammate, quarterback Tim Tebow, is capable of doing on a football field and thinks his friend should have another opportunity to lead a team before his career is over. "Man, Tebow is a winner. At the end of the day, he's a winner, period," Nelson recently told Florida Today while hosting a youth football camp. "Some people know that and some people try to overlook it. In my book, Tebow's a winner and he's the kind of guy you want on your team. He's a leader and he leads by example. He's with a good organization now with the Patriots and, you know, we'll [the Cincinnati Bengals] be seeing him during the season so we'll check on him and see how he's doing."