GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Ten former University of Florida basketball players were in the NBA this season. Nearly a third garnered postseason honors.
“Hopefully, playing here, in our system and this style of play, helped put them in position and prepared them for that,” Gators coach Billy Donovan said Friday. “I’m really proud of those guys.”
Headlining the trio is Golden State power forward David Lee, who Thursday was named third-team All-NBA after averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds in helping guide the Warriors to a playoff berth.
Joining Lee on the postseason hardware circuit were Chicago center Joakim Noah, named to the league’s All-Defensive team, and Washington guard Bradley Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft who was named to All-Rookie squad.
“The one thing about those three guys, they all had talent, but they also had work ethic,” Donovan said. “They maximized those two things and put themselves in situations to flourish.”
Lee, a 2005 first-round by New York, signed a six-year, $79.5 million free-agent deal with Golden State in 2010. This season, he led the league in double-doubles with 56 and is the first UF alum ever to receive All-NBA honors.
When Lee played at Florida (2002-05), he did so alongside noted scorers like Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh. Donovan tried to get Lee to be more aggressive on the offensive end during those Gator days, but that wasn’t in his makeup.
“He was always a team guy,” Donovan said. “Look at Golden State. He’s surrounded by guys like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, so he can play that other role where he’s comfortable.”
On Beal, whose pro career started slowly (like his college career a year earlier): “I thought that would happen. He needed to feel his way around some, have his ups and downs, then become a more consistent player.”
And on Noah (Donovan just shrugged): “No surprise at all. Just a warrior. Terrific player.”