Thursday July 11, 2013 Raveling's words resonated (plus other Gators hoops notes)
Updated: 2:58pm, July 11
Updated: 2:58pm, July 11
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- George Raveling won 337 basketball games over 22 seasons at Washington State, Iowa and Southern Cal before retiring from coaching. He is probably just as famous for being on the podium with Dr. Martin Luther King when the famed civil rights leader delivered the historic “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.
As King left the stage, he handed the speech to Raveling.
(And, yes, he saved it)
A 19-year-old college basketball player that knows that much about Raveling is going to give the man the undivided attention he deserves. That’s a given.
But Raveling (pictured left) now serves as Nike’s Director of International Basketball. As such, he is heavily involved in USA Basketball and thus was called on to speak to the U19 squad, coached by Billy Donovan, before the team left for Czech Republic last month to compete in the FIBA World Championships.
Donovan said Raveling’s message resonated with a group of young men who were trying to be just the third American team to win the gold medal at the Worlds in the last 26 years.
“He’s been involved in USA basketball for like 30 years,” Donovan said. “And he made a great comment to our players.”
Raveling, who was an assistant for Bobby Knight on the USA’s 1984 Olympic gold-medal team led by Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, stood before the team and explained how 95 percent of America’s population will never be asked to serve their country.
That other 5 percent, Raveling continued, is made up of the brave men and women in the military -- and athletes who represent the United States.
“He talked about the importance of representing the country, and not necessarily from a winning standpoint, but how they played the game,” Donovan said. “I don’t know how this team will be remembered -- and I haven’t seen all the 19-and-under [teams] -- but this was a special group. And George mentioned that.”
The Americans went out and justified Raveling’s words, going unbeaten in pool play, then defeating Canada and Serbia in the medal round to claim the gold.
Since the advent of the FIBA World tournament in 1979, the USA had won the event only four times (1979, ’83, ’91 and ’09), but only twice since 1987. Donovan’s team, which featured Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier (right), took its rightful -- and patriotic -- place in history.
"Really an incredible experience," Donovan said.
In other UF basketball developments:
>> The status of guard Scottie Wilbekin has not changed since the school announced last month the senior playmaker had been suspended from the team indefinitely for violating team rules. “He’s got a road to hoe here to get himself back,” Donovan said. “There are some things out there in front of him he needs to do right now. He’s working hard to try and do those things, but this is not a situation where, all of a sudden, it’s a quick fix and he’s back for Summer B. No. For the rest of the summer, he’s not part of our team. I’ll meet with him once fall semester starts and go from there.”
>> Incoming freshman forward Chris Walker, the 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American from Bonifay (Fla.) Holmes County High, is not enrolled at UF this summer. “He may or may not be here for the fall semester,” Donovan said. “I think the one thing I feel like with Chris, in just talking to him, is his commitment to Florida and wanting to be here -- however long that takes. He wants to make that happen. He’s got some things that he still needs to do.”
>>> The other freshman McDonald's All-American, guard Kasey Hill from Montverde (Fla.) Academy, is in school and already taking part in the team's offseason conditioning. Hill was rated the top point guard in the nation by virtually every recruiting service. "The biggest thing for him is getting better and getting acclimated to what we’re doing," Donovan said. "More than anything else, just earning respect within our team'' [should be his first focus].
>> Senior forward Will Yeguete, who underwent knee surgery in May, is still walking with crutches, but recently shed his knee brace. The UF health staff is optimistic he is on course to be cleared when the Gators open fall practice.
>> Junior guard Eli Carter, who is enrolled after transferring from Rutgers, is going through the process of petitioning the NCAA to gain eligibility for the 2013-14 season. Carter has averaged 14.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in two seasons with the Scarlet Knights, including a career-high 31 in an upset of the Gators two seasons ago.