Florida Gators: Florida basketball

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s defense is going to be tested immediately in the NCAA tournament.

The Gators earned a No. 3 seed in the South region and will play its tournament opener against No. 14 seed Northwestern State, which entered the weekend as the nation’s top-scoring team. The game will be played Friday in Austin, Texas.

The Gators (26-7), who won the regular-season Southeastern Conference title but fell to Ole Miss in the SEC tournament, entered the weekend third nationally in scoring defense (53.2 points per game allowed). UF has allowed just one opponent to score more than 66 points since a 67-61 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 22, 2012.

Northwestern State (23-8) won the Southland Conference tournament. The Demons entered the weekend averaging 82.4 points per game, but that number dropped to 81.0 per game after the conference tournament.

The Demons have four players averaging in double figures in scoring, led by 6-foot-7 forward DeQuan Hicks (14.1 ppg). Northwestern also is pretty deep. They have 10 players averaging at least 15.5 minutes per game.

Should the Gators get by Northwestern State they face a potential third-round matchup with No. 6 seed UCLA (25-9), which plays No. 11 seed Minnesota. UF has won all three of its meetings against the Bruins, and all have come in the NCAA tournament. The Gators beat UCLA in the 2006 national championship game, in the 2007 national semifinals and in a third-round game in 2011.

If the Gators do advance to the Sweet 16, they could potentially face No. 2 seed Georgetown (25-6). That would be a rematch of the Navy-Marine Corps Classic aboard the USS Bataan at Mayport (Fla.) Naval Station that was never finished because of condensation on the court.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida center Patric Young is suffering from mononucleosis but is expected to be fine when the Gators begin practice Oct. 12.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said Young, who averaged 10.2 points and a team-high 6.4 rebounds last season, has missed the past three weeks while recuperating but should return to workouts Wednesday. He was diagnosed when classes began in late August.

"I think he’s going to be fine, but there’s going to be some stamina issues with him because he hasn’t done anything for three weeks," Donovan said. "We’ve got plenty of time where we can get him back to that point."

Donovan said the 6-foot-9, 249-pound junior had been having a good offseason until he got sick, but the coach added that the time away might actually help Young because it’ll be extra motivation for him to fix the stamina issues that affected him last season.

"I think it could be a blessing in disguise," Donovan said. "He’s been away from it and missed it and he realizes he’s not in shape, and the other guys are and he has to push himself to get himself back in shape."
ESPN 100 forward Tyler Roberson continued to see his stock rise after a strong summer, and he’s reached the next step in the recruiting process, narrowing his list to 10 schools.

The schools that made the cut: Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Rutgers, Seton Hall, SMU, South Carolina, Syracuse and Villanova.

“Because this is my top 10, from a basketball standpoint, all the schools would fit me,” Roberson said. “It basically comes down to how hard they’re recruiting me. That’s a major factor.

Parker and then the debate begins in 2013 

August, 8, 2012
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The prevailing storyline in the senior class rests among the first half-dozen elite members of the group. When ESPN convened its scouts to discuss the 100 elite seniors in the country, the most difficult task we faced was settling on an order for the first half-dozen prospects.

The list begins, as it has since last summer, with No. 1 Jabari Parker (Chicago/Simeon). He owns three state championships, two gold medals and the respect of his peers. However, his summer was incomplete; he returned from Lithuania with USA Basketball only to shut himself down due to injury. With the top slot heading into the fall intact, Parker need only check his rearview mirror to size up his competition.

The next two spots on the list belong to a point guard and a power forward from Texas. Andrew Harrison (Richmond, Texas/Travis) is a 6-foot-5 point guard, and one of the biggest, most athletic and talented guards you'll come across at the high school level. The only person to slow down his movements during the summer was Parker, who guarded him at NBPA Top 100 Camp and did so better than any other guard we saw.

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Here’s Chad Ford’s latest stab at how the first round will play out, taking into account buzz from the draft combine.
Insider ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb provides his take on the top 30 prospects in this year's NBA draft, including Florida's Bradley Beal at No. 2.
After being released from his commitment to Virginia Tech, ESPN 100 power forward Montrezl Harrell is starting the recruiting process from square one. Now Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Louisville and more are calling.

Damontre Harris down to Florida, Kansas

May, 9, 2012
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South Carolina forward Damontre Harris, one of the transfer prizes of the spring and a member of the All-SEC defensive team because of his shot-blocking prowess last season, has narrowed his options to two.

According to Harris’ high school coach, Heath Vandevender, Florida and Kansas are the finalists.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan has been named the head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team for the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championships.

"It’s always an honor to be selected to represent your country, and I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity to be part of USA Basketball," Donovan said.

Donovan’s coaching staff will include VCU head coach and former UF assistant Shaka Smart and Gonzaga head coach Mark Few.

Training camp opens June 5. The final 12-man roster will be announced before the team leaves for the eight-team tournament June 16-20 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil. The top four teams will qualify for the FIBA U19 World Championships in 2013.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Lost in Florida’s impressive blowout victories over Virginia and Norfolk State is the improved play of guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.

The two still aren’t shooting well from 3-point range -- a combined 3-for-17 -- but they have been much more under control in terms of shot selection and not driving into the lane without a plan and getting caught without anywhere to go with the ball.

[+] EnlargeErving Walker
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesUF coach Billy Donovan wants Erving Walker to take the open shots, but Walker has had to make serious adjustments to his play to accommodate running the offense, too.
Walker has been particularly effective. He has five assists and four turnovers in the two games, but he has been smart with the basketball in the lane. He hasn’t tried to drive and shoot over much bigger players -- like he did against Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

He’s playing his smartest basketball of the season, and it’s coming at the perfect time, with the Gators (25-10) heading into Thursday’s Sweet 16 matchup with Marquette (27-7). Even though this is Walker’s third season as a starter, it’s the first in which he hasn't had an experienced frontcourt, and that makes a difference, UF coach Billy Donovan said.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida guards Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal were named to the All-Southeastern Conference basketball first team Tuesday, while guard Erving Walker was a second-team selection and center Patric Young was named the league's Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Boynton leads UF in scoring (16.8 ppg) and 3-point shooting (43.4 percent). The 6-foot-1 junior has scored at least 20 points in a game 12 times this season. Beal, a 6-3 freshman, is second in scoring (14.4 ppg) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (6.5 rpg). Joining those two on the first team are Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Mississippi State's Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie, and Vanderbilt's John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor.

Walker, who is UF's all-time assists leader (524) and is fourth on the school's all-time scoring list (1,715), averages 12.4 points and 4.7 assists per game. He is joined on the second team by Alabama's JaMychal Green and Trevor Releford, Arkansas' B.J. Young, Kentucky's Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, LSU's Justin Hamilton, Ole Miss' Terrance Henry, and Tennessee's Jeronne Maymon.

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Billy Donovan and his staff at Florida have already assembled a top-25 recruiting class and arguably one of the top incoming backcourts in the Class of 2012 with Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith Christian Cademy), Michael Frazier (Tampa, Fla./Montverde Academy) and Dillon Graham (Orlando, Fla./First Academy).

[+] EnlargeFlorida's Billy Donovan
AP Photo/Phil SandlinBilly Donovan is determined to land a big man in this class.
With all three players having signed their letters of intent in November, Donovan and his staff have been fixated on adding frontcourt talent for several months and appear to be in good shape with a number of the nation’s best remaining interior talents including Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay College Prep), who reportedly has the Gators near the top of his list.

Donovan spent Wednesday looking at two of his other top targets in the frontcourt, both of whom star for New Hampshire prep schools.

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