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News, notes and musings on Florida Gators of the past, present and future.

Monday June 9, 2014In The (Gator) Zone: Noah's Season One to Remember, Plus More Gators Chatter

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

In The (Gator) Zone
News, notes and musings on Florida Gators of the past, present and future

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Based on his rapid improvement during three seasons at Florida, the ceiling for Joakim Noah in the NBA figured to be high.

The Chicago Bulls thought so, selecting the 6-foot-11 Noah with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Now 29 and a veteran of seven seasons, Noah is considered one of the NBA’s top players. The gangly freshman who averaged 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds 10 years ago at UF is a distant memory.

Noah, already named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, made the All-NBA first-team Wednesday. Noah earned 101 first-team votes, the third-most behind Kevin Durant (unanimous 125 votes) and LeBron James’ 124.

Noah averaged 12.6 points a game, finished sixth in the league in rebounding (11.3) and tallied a career-high 5.4 assists per game as Chicago’s offense often ran though him in the absence of point guard Derrick Rose. He finished second in the league with four triple-doubles.

Noah became only the fourth player in franchise history to earn first-team All-NBA honors, joining Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Rose.

Noah’s outstanding season – in my opinion the best ever for a UF player in the NBA -- got me wondering about the best individual single seasons in history for other former Gators who stuck around the NBA for a while.

Some were journeymen (Dwayne Schintzius), others a flash in the pan (Donnell Harvey), and then newcomers such as Nick Calathes. They are not listed.

Meanwhile, here is a look at the top statistical seasons of 14 former UF players who built careers in the NBA that had staying power: 

Player

Team

NBA Season

Notables

Joakim Noah

Chicago Bulls

2013-14

NBA Defensive POY, 12.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.5 bpg

Al Horford

Atlanta Hawks

2012-13

17.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.2 apg

Mike Miller

Memphis Grizzlies

2006-07

Career-high 18.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg

David Lee

Golden State Warriors

2012-13

NBA All-Star, 18.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg

Neal Walk

Phoenix Suns

1972-73

20.2 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 3.5 apg

Jason Williams

Memphis Grizzlies

2001-02

14.8 ppg, 8 apg, 1.7 spg

Vernon Maxwell

Houston Rockets

1993-94

13.6 ppg, career-high 5.1 apg

Bradley Beal

Washington Wizards

2013-14

17.1 ppg, 40.2 percent 3s

Udonis Haslem

Miami Heat

2006-07

10.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg

Corey Brewer

Minnesota T-Wolves

2009-10

13 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.4 apg

Matt Bonner

San Antonio Spurs

2010-11

7.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 45.7 pct. 3s

Chandler Parsons

Houston Rockets

2013-14

16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4 apg

Andrew DeClercq

Cleveland Cavaliers

1999-00

6.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg

Marreese Speights

Memphis Grizzlies

2011-12

8.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg


GREEN WINS AGAIN

Taurean Green, one of Noah’s teammates on Florida’s back-to-back national championships teams in 2006 and 2007, is a champion again.

Green scored 19 points Thursday to lead CSP Limoges of the French Pro-A League to title. Green has played professionally overseas after a brief career with the Portland Trail Blazers.

FLORIDA TOPS LIST

The folks at CollegeSpun.com are good at coming up with lists. If a subject can be filed in list form, you can usually find it there.

One of their latest ranks the top 25 college athletic programs of the 21st Century. Who do you think is No. 1?

“If you were a college student at some point from 2001 to 2014, and you wanted to witness a national championship in football or men’s basketball, hopefully you attended school in Gainesville, Fla.”

Click here for the complete list.

WHITSON’S SECOND CHANCE

Gators pitcher Karsten Whitson was a source of intrigue from the first time he pulled on his Florida uniform as a freshman.

Not many players turn down a $2.1 million signing bonus to attend college. However, Whitson did after being drafted ninth overall in the 2010 MLB Draft by San Diego.

Whitson had a strong freshman season in 2011 but arm trouble and shoulder surgery limited his effectiveness – and caused him to miss the 2013 season – the rest of his career.

Whitson got a second chance in the draft last week and was selected by Boston in the 11th round. He told MLB.com that he plans to forego his final year of eligibility and sign with the Red Sox.

“The Red Sox saw something in me and they're giving me an opportunity to work hard for a team that's sticking their neck out for me," Whitson said. "Some other teams are looking at [the] negative of my situation. It humbles me that Boston sees positives in a kid that still has a lot to offer.”

GATORS AND AN EAGLE

Don Felder is best known for his guitar work for the Eagles and as co-writer of the band’s biggest hit, “Hotel California.” He is currently touring with Styx and Foreigner and recently spoke with The Packet of Columbus, Miss.

The Gainesville native has traveled the world with his guitar, but he keeps a close watch on the Gators.

“I’m a Florida Gators fan – football, basketball, any sport that’s down there,’’ Felder said. “My buddy Stephen Stills is a huge fan, as well. He still has a house in Gainesville. I think once you get a taste of that part of the world, it never leaves your blood.”

For more from Felder, here is a link to his interview.

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Gators head coaches often talk about the support they get from other coaches on campus.

We got a glimpse of that at last week’s Women’s College World Series when Florida women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler and UF women’s tennis coach Roland Thornqvist traveled to Oklahoma City to support UF’s softball team.

One word: cool. 

EXTRA, EXTRA

The small central Florida town of Lake Wales is probably best known as home to Bok Tower Gardens and the place where “Galloping Ghost” Red Grange died in 1991. It’s also home to a pair of Gators who had eventful weeks. Former Lake Wales High standout Hannah Rogers starred on the mound during the UF softball team’s run to its first national title, and Justin Shafer, a year behind Rogers when they attended Lake Wales together, was drafted in the eight round Friday by the Toronto Blue Jays. Shafer, who signed with Toronto on Sunday, was a pitcher/outfielder for UF’s baseball team and projects as a pitcher on the professional level … Goaltender Cara Canington, a fifth-year senior who recently graduated, spent the weekend in Indianapolis, Ind., attending the NCAA Career in Sports Forum. Canington wrote about the experience for InsideLacross.com ... Former UF men’s basketball strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Herring, who left the Gators for the San Antonio Spurs in 2011, is back in the SEC. First-year Missouri coach Kim Anderson hired Herring last week as the Tigers’ director of athletic performance … If the name Danielle Collins sounds familiar, there’s good reason. Collins played her freshman season at UF in 2013 before transferring to Virginia. The St. Petersburg (Fla.) native came through for the Cavaliers, unexpectedly winning the NCAA women’s single title last month as unseeded entry. “This is definitely the icing on the cake for my tennis career,’’ Collins told the Tampa Bay Times … With the NBA Draft later this month, Gators center Patric Young has worked out for several teams, including the Knicks on Wednesday according to multiple reports. After a recent workout in Phoenix, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was impressed. “Young has very good defensive instincts,” McDonough told reporters. “He is a physical specimen and defends well. He was very well-coached at Florida and has a good feel for where to be and how to switch off defensively. Offensively it’s a work in progress, he’s strong around the basket but needs to develop his touch away from the basket.”

--To refer items for “In The (Gator) Zone” you can email Scott Carter at ScottC@gators.ufl.edu

 

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