The Swamp Chomp: Former Gators ready for NBA, 2011 draft

With less than a week to go until Thursday’s NBA Draft, a handful of former Gators are putting their final workouts in hoping to hear their name called.

Three former Florida players are ready to make the jump to the NBA. 2011 draft prospects include center Vernon Macklin and forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus.

NBA enthusiasts will note that none of the three are sure-fire draft prospects, though Parsons is likely to be drafted at some point and Macklin could also hear his name called. Tyus’ chances seem to be somewhat slimmer.

Parsons has been projected from the late first round to the second round, while Macklin has been projected as a second-round pick.

Dime Magazine caught up with Macklin recently to talk about his career at Florida and the NBA Draft process.

Interestingly enough, Macklin said he’s been trying to sell teams on the one thing he was most criticized for while suiting up for the Gators: his physicality.

While Macklin had a good offensive game, he was a marginal rebounder and shot blocker at Florida.

Since leaving Florida, it’s clear Macklin has made it a goal to improve his physical play and rebounding.

“I did a lot of good things that teams like by being physical every single possession,” he told Dime Magazine. “I think I can bring a lot of physicality to a line. I can also rebound and do the dirty work that a lot of players don’t do in the NBA.”

He’s also spoken to former Gators center Marreese Speights, who was the second to last Florida player taken in the NBA Draft, selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th pick in the 2008 draft.

If Macklin has indeed improved his physicality, he’s a player who should definitely be selected in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

After all, Speights’ deficiencies on the defensive end of the floor were well-known heading into the 2008 NBA Draft.

Macklin has worked out for a handful of teams including Boston, Indiana, Memphis, New Jersey (twice), Philadelphia and Washington.

Meanwhile, Parsons has worked out for several teams, including Charlotte, Cleveland, Golden State, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, San Antonio and Washington.

Tyus has worked out for a few teams, including Detroit, New Jersey, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.

Florida Gators NBA Draft Facts

  • Florida has had two players selected since the ‘04s left following back-to-back national championships: Speights (1st Rd, #16 to Philadelphia in 2008) and Nick Calathes (2nd Rd, #45 to Minnesota in 2009 – rights traded to Dallas).
  • The Gators have had 31 former players drafted to the NBA.
  • Florida has had 10 first-round selections.
  • New York has drafted the most Gators, picking four former Florida players. Milwaukee and Minnesota have each drafted three former Gators.

Two former Gators to play for John Calipari, Dominican Republic?

Speaking of former Florida basketball players, there’s a good chance two of them will be suiting up for a John Calipari coached team this summer.

Calipari, who is coaching the Dominican Republic, will be coaching current Kentucky player and Florida transfer Eloy Vargas.

Vargas told WKYT’s Steve Moss he’s excited to play for Calipari and the Dominican Republic with the chance to play against a guy like Al Horford.

Horford has yet to announce whether he will play for his country. His decision may in part be decided by the NBA lockout, which could prevent players from getting the necessary insurance to play for their national teams.

Always one to use anything he can for an edge in recruiting, Calipari ensured that the Dominican Republic team would work out in Lexington as part of his agreement to take the job.

The team will compete in the Continental Cup in Brazil and in the Olympic-qualifying FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina.

Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young underway in Team USA basketball tryouts

Two current Gators recently got underway in the USA U-19 training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Sophomores Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young began their bid Friday to qualify for the 12-man roster that will represent the United States at the 2011 FIBA World Championships in Latvia later this summer.

The two competed in their first practice session Friday evening. They will have two more practice sessions today and one on Sunday morning before the final 12-man roster is announced.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan is working as a court coach for the training camp.

The FIBA World Championships begin on June 30.