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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 women's tennis advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season on Friday when they swept Duke 4-0 in Round of 16 action. With their opponents unable to field a third doubles team and sixth singles competitor, Florida was gifted two early points and easily managed to pick up a pair of singles victories to close things out. UF is hoping to advance to the finals for the fourth-straight season and win a third-straight NCAA Championship. The goals are lofty but if any program on campus is capable, it's these ladies.
A commitment from four-star 2014 point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) became official on Tuesday, which now leads Gators fans to ask, "Who's next?" as it pertains to Florida basketball recruiting. Head coach Billy Donovan may be close to adding two more players though no commitments are scheduled as of press time. As has been noted before, five-star power forward Leron Black (Memphis, TN) is close friends with Chiozza and the two have spoken extensively about playing together on the next level. The No. 16-ranked recruit in the nation has an offer in hand from UF and could commit at any time. Another player who could pop any day for the Gators is three-star guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL). The local product has been standing out in a major way this spring and is getting major attention from other prominent schools such as Louisville and Indiana. A source close to the program tells me Francis's level of interest in Florida is genuine and the team believes it is the frontrunner for his services at this time.
The off-the-cuff comments made by Gators defensive line coach Tim Davis recently at a Gator Gathering in Melbourne, FL (in which he called Alabama head coach Nick Saban "the devil himself" in a joking manner) caught fire with the national media and led, not surprisingly, to an overly serious response from Lucifer himself on Thursday. "It really is a little terribly disappointing," said Saban dejectedly, according to AL.com. "I try to do right by the people that work for me. It's a tough, demanding job. And at the same time, if anybody ever had an issue or problem with me, I would want them to just tell me." Though he appeared disturbed by Davis's comments, Saban made it a point to exclude Muschamp and the Florida football program from his scorn. "I know it's not representative of Will Muschamp and the University of Florida and the way they do things," he noted. "I know that because I'm close enough to Will to know that."
One day brought a lot of big news to the forefront for Washington Wizards rookie guard Brad Beal. Not only was he named to the 2013 NBA All-Rookie First Team, becoming just the third player in school history to receive the honor, it was also announced that he would be representing the Wizards at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, May 21. Washington has won the draft lottery twice (2001, 2010) in team history but only has a 2.8 percent chance to win the No. 1 overall selection this season, mostly because of how well Beal and teammate John Wall played during the 2012-13 campaign.
Racking in the huge bucks may not come for these two until their second NFL contracts but there is no diminishing the fact that Miami Dolphins draft picks linebacker Jelani Jenkins and kicker Caleb Sturgis will both be paid handsomely during their rookie seasons. Miami officially signed both players on Tuesday, leaving just five Florida draftees without rookie contracts as of press time. Jenkins, a fourth-round pick, signed a four-year, $2.632 million deal with the Dolphins and will receive $472,688 guaranteed as a signing bonus. Sturgis also inked a four-year pact though his fifth-round contract is worth $2.304 million with a $144,560 signing bonus. Gators that remain unsigned include defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, safety Matt Elam, tight end Jordan Reed, running back Mike Gillislee and S Josh Evans.
Spring NCAA championship tournaments are in full swing right now with four Florida teams all hoping to advance this weekend in their respective events. As noted earlier, women's tennis advanced to the quarterfinals and will next be in action on Sunday against a yet to be determined opponent at 1 p.m.
No. 2 Gators softball begins its NCAA Tournament with regional action in Gainesville, FL. Florida will take on Hampton at 6 p.m. on Friday to kick things off and will also likely play on Saturday and Sunday in the double-elimination regional.
No. 5 Gators lacrosse hopes to get a measure of revenge in its quarterfinal contest against Syracuse on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Sun Sports). Florida is hoping to advance to the semifinals for the second-straight season.
Also in action this weekend is the UF baseball team, which earned a 4-2 series-opening victory against Georgia on Thursday and is looking to win its final regular season series. No. 15 men's golf is competing in NCAA Regional action as well and concludes its rounds on Saturday.