Mom’s confirmation was just what Chaney needed

If Allan Chaney was seeking confirmation that the decision he was about to make was the right one, he got it from his mother Thursday morning. Sitting in his room after a morning run that was as much a head-clearing session as it was a stay in shape workout, Chaney decided he wanted to be a Florida Gator. He called his mom, Brenda, into the room and what she told him was all the confirmation he needed.

“I was just sitting by in my room by myself and I called my mom,” said Chaney Thursday afternoon. “I said I think I know where I want to go to school and that’s the University of Florida. She said ‘I would catch a plane to go there to watch you play.’

“Now she hasn’t seen me play basketball in high school, not even once, and she hates to get on a plane and fly. For her to say she would come to Gainesville to watch me play in college and she would fly down there when she hates to fly … well, that’s off the charts.”

Next, Chaney tried to call his dad, Arthur, but when he didn’t answer, he left a phone message. Then he sent an email message to Billy Donovan, letting the Florida coach know he wanted to be a Gator and then followed it up with a phone call a few minutes later.

“He [Donovan] said talk to my pops and make sure everything is all right,” said Chaney. “I did that and called him back. He was happy and I’m a Gator. It’s the best day of my life.”

Chaney is a 6-9, 220-pound power forward who averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds per game last year for Coach Craig Parker at New London (CT) High School. He is the fourth commitment for the Gators in the recruiting class of 2008, joining Erving Walker (5-7, 140, Middle Village, NY Christ the King), 6-5 Ray Shipman (6-5, 205, Opa-Locka, FL Monsignor Pace) and Kenny Kadji (6-10, 250, Bradenton, FL IMG Academy).

Chaney was somewhat of an unknown until this summer. That might have something to do with the fact he was a guard prior to his junior year. He grew more than three inches from the end of his sophomore basketball season until this summer and apparently he hasn’t finished growing. A few weeks ago, at a routine checkup with his doctor, Chaney learned that he may have another inch or two of growth remaining.

He was an outside player with a rather good jump shot prior to his junior year. He started the year somewhere between 6-6 and 6-7 and got moved inside.

“I pretty much sprouted up out of nowhere,” said Chaney, whose dad is 6-5 and mom is 6-0. “I had to get used to playing with my back to the basket and it wasn’t really easy. My coaches — both Coach Bunkley and Coach Parker — kept telling me that having the guard skills and learning to play with my back to the basket would be important for me.”

Making the transition from a perimeter player to the inside wasn’t without a few bumps along the road. He says he’s still adjusting to everything, including the fact that he’s grown so much.

“I’m still having to get used to being this tall,” said Chaney, whose brother Cassius is a 6-5 guard at the University of New Haven.

He could have resisted, especially when he was still in the early stages of adjusting his game, but he credits the coaches with their continuous encouragement and coaching.

“At first, that was kind of hard to accept, but I played through it,” he said. “I just had to listen to them and accept their coaching.”

He says that the coaching from Parker and Bunkley doesn’t stop when he leaves the gym. They are constantly monitoring him, making sure he runs, making sure he goes to the gym to work with the weights and making certain that he’s diligent with his school work.

The school work won’t be a problem. His favorite subject is math and he’s trying to decide if he wants to major in accounting or sports management at Florida. He’s excited about the pre-calculus class that he will be taking in the fall.

“I want to be able to go into the regular calculus class in the second semester,” he said. “I love math. It’s hard work, but it’s easily my favorite subject.”

Chaney was recruited to Florida by assistant coach Rob Lanier. His performance in a Morgantown, West Virginia tournament in July is what really turned on the Florida coaching staff. Lanier said it was the honesty of the Florida coaches that helped him make the final choice.

“Coach Lanier is so straight up,” said Chaney. “He will tell me when I’m doing something wrong. A lot of coaches won’t do that. If I do something right, he’ll tell me what he liked about it and he’ll even tell me if there’s a way to improve it. He never once sucked up to me and that’s something I really liked.

“Coach Donovan … well, he’s the best coach in the business. He’s the coach I want to play for because of the way he cares about developing you. I want to play for a coach that wants to develop me both as a player and as a person. He wants me to grow into a man that people respect and he’ll help me become the best player I can be. After thinking about the way he is, I really didn’t want to play for anybody else.”

With his college choice out of the way, Chaney knows he has some areas of his game that he has to work on his senior year.

“I want to improve my defensive presence, being competitive on both ends of the floor every play and the last thing I would probably say is my strength,” he said. “I want to get better in every aspect of my game so I can come to the University of Florida ready to play.”

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.