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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 point guard Nick Calathes has decided to begin his NBA career, agreeing Friday to a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, which traded future draft considerations to Dallas for his draft rights on July 22. Calathes confirmed his decision in a text message with me on Friday, ending two weeks of indecisiveness about whether to return to Europe or follow his dream and play in the NBA. He has spent the last four seasons playing in Greece and Russia and even won the Most Valuable Player award while leading his Russian team, Lokomotiv Kuban, to the 2013 Eurocup title. Calathes will be the second former Florida player on Memphis's roster this season as the Grizzlies signed guard Mike Miller to a two-year $12.8 million contract on July 30.
According to the University of Florida, 17 former and current student-athletes will participate in summer commencement ceremonies on Saturday. Among the big-name Gators graduating are G Kenny Boynton (sociology), lineman Nick Alajajian (sociology), redshirt senior cornerback Jeremy Brown (sociology and criminology & law), defensive tackle Joe Cohen, defensive end Duke Lemmens (recreation event management), women's forward Jennifer George (recreation event management), Olympic swimmer Sarah Bateman (geology) and softball outfielder Ensley Gammel (family, youth & community services).
Three of baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan's former players - left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde (Los Angeles Angels), LHP Steven Rodriguez (Los Angeles Dodgers) and catcher Mike Zunino (Seattle Mariners) - are already playing in MLB this season but a fourth will be joining them on Friday as the Houston Astros have decided to call up LHP Kevin Chapman. Floundering with a 37-76 record as of press time, Houston hopes to use Chapman's arm in relief. He has posted a 1-2 record, 3.20 ERA and two saves in 45 appearances while participating in Triple-A ball this season.
Only around four seasons, the Gators lacrosse program has already developed an intense rivalry with the Syracuse Orange but that did not stop head coach Amanda O'Leary from making a big hire this week. Florida announced Thursday that O'Leary hired former Syracuse standout Michelle Tumolo as an assistant. Tumolo, a three-time selection to the All-Big East First Team, has played at the highest levels of lacrosse competition and is currently a member of the U.S. Women's National Team. She is another brilliant addition to UF's lacrosse program, which made a name for itself on the national scene during its second year of existence (2011) and has remained a power in collegiate lacrosse.
Rutgers guard Mike Poole, who transferred to Iona following the Mike Rice scandal, was granted a legislative relief waiver by the NCAA that will allow him to play immediately and not sit for one season as normally mandated by the organization. Poole is one of three former Scarlet Knights to transfer - the other two being Eli Carter (Florida) and Derrick Randall (Pittsburgh) - and his waiver being approved is certainly a good sign for his ex-teammates. A source close to the Gators told me Friday that there is no new information regarding Carter's eligibility but that the program remains optimistic that he will be able to play for UF this season. The only thing that would likely restrict Carter from playing immediately would be his right leg as he is still recovering from a broken fibula he suffered during a game on Feb. 16. That is not expected to be an issue, however.
Spotlight will be shining on former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow on Friday as he takes the field with his new team, the New England Patriots, for their first preseason game of 2013. Head coach Bill Belichick has not given an indication on how much Tebow will play in the game - if he will even see the field - but did tell Tebow to "be ready when your number is called," according to the player. "I feel like I'm getting better every single day," Tebow told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. "[I'm] more comfortable with the offense, better timing with everybody around me, better understanding of what the coaches want me to do and with the offense, with the reads, with the timing. So it's just every day trying to get a little better, and it sounds cliché, but it's true. That's really what I'm focused on, and I know it's something that hopefully I've been able to accomplish."