Florida Gators to open season in Veterans Classic

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will kick off the 2015-16 season on the road for the first time in 15 years when they travel to Annapolis to partake in the second annual Veterans Classic.

The Gators will open their season up against Navy on Friday, November 13 in the tournament that brings top teams in from around the country to celebrate Veteran’s Day.

Joining Florida in the tournament will be Navy, North Carolina and Temple.

“This event is a unique opportunity for our team not just on the court, but it’s a chance for our guys to interact with people their age who are leading a really special way of life in service to our country,” Billy Donovan said in a CBS press release. “The qualities that the Naval Academy represents – duty, honor and loyalty – are characteristics that we can all aspire to living out. I know this will be an outstanding experience to tip off our season.”

In addition to playing games, the trip will provide Florida’s student-athletes a unique opportunity to see what life is like at a Military Academy. The three schools that travel to Navy will have the opportunity to see what life is like for the Navy Midshipmen; everything from the culture and history of the Navy and Naval Academy, watch military demonstrations and see line formations in the ‘Yard.’

CBS Sports Network will provide a look at schools’ visit to the Naval Academy on “Hoops Confidential: Veterans Classic”, a planned 30-minute all-access show.

“The teams will be on our campus during the week of Veterans Day and will interact with the Brigade of Midshipmen, active members of the military and veterans,” Navy head coach Ed Dechellis said. “We have some special things planned for the three visiting teams and it will be a great night of basketball as well. CBS Sports Network has been a great partner and they do an unbelievable job with the production of the event.”

This is the second year a team from the SEC has been invited. Last year the Midshipmen hosted Michigan State, Tennessee and VCU for the first ever Veterans Classic.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC