Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

A few years ago, if you had asked the top kids at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions to list their favorite teams, you might have heard four or five of the top 40 mention the Florida Gators. My how things have changed. Mention the Gators and that gets a positive response from just about every single kid. Check out the 40 best kids at the tournament and at least half of them have Florida on their list of favorites.

The Gibbons tournament was somewhat watered down this year because Nike staged a competing tournament in Nashville. For years, the Gibbons tournament took center stage and no matter what shoe company sponsored the AAU teams, they all showed on Memorial Day in North Carolina. Gibbons is affiliated now with Reebok (owned by adidas) so the Nike teams aren’t feeling the warm and fuzzies. This year, King of the Court from Akron, Ohio (co-sponsored by LeBron James) was the only Nike team at this year’s event.

Even without the big time Nike teams and so many good players, Gibbons put on another good tournament this year. Here are some leftovers from the tournament this weekend along with a look at how I think the Florida recruiting board is looking these days.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.