Florida Gators Vs. Kentucky Wildcats: Gators Look To Close Out Regular Season With Win Over SEC Rival

We’ve made it to the end of the regular season. On Saturday, the Florida Gators will close out the regular season with a trip to Kentucky to take on the defending national champion Wildcats. We’ve discussed this before, but it’s worth mentioning again, Kentucky is not the Kentucky of last season. The players that won that title are in the NBA for the most part and this is a very different Wildcat squad the Gators will face.

Patric Young - Florida Gators

Florida, on the other hand, is not all that different from last season’s Elite Eight squad. Gone are Bradley Beal–drafted immediately following two former Wildcats–and Erving Walker, but the other major parts from last season’s roster are all intact. Even with Beal and Walker, the Gators went 0-3 against the Wildcats during the 2011-12 season. This season, without the two former starters, Florida is 1-0 with a 17-point victory over the new look Kentucky squad. A Kentucky squad desperately needing a win if they even hope to sniff the NCAA Tournament.

The 24-5 (14-3 SEC) Gators are in regardless of what happens. They could lose to the Wildcats and immediately exit the SEC Tournament with a loss in their first game and still make it to the big dance. Kentucky, though, needs help. At 20-10 (11-6 SEC), the Wildcats needed a strong finish to the regular season. Instead, they have gone 3-4 over the last seven, including bad losses to Arkansas and Georgia in their last two. Both teams want a victory, but one team needs it infinitely more.

That shouldn’t mean much though. The Gators won’t roll over just because they don’t necessarily need the win. A victory would help them secure a higher seed, but so would multiple wins in the conference tournament and an SEC tourney crown. Defeating this season’s Kentucky team doesn’t have the impact that beating last season’s would have, but going into Lexington and getting a win is still something to remember.

The Gators haven’t won at Rupp Arena since 2007 and are 0-2 in their last two SEC road games. Florida plays great at home, but has been shaky on the road in conference play. This is the time of the season to get over that. The Gators must play as they know they can. They defeated Kentucky once this season, and by a good margin, and should do so again. There’s no reason for a letdown, road game or not. Florida rebounded from a loss to Tennessee with a thin lineup to win two in a row in solid fashion. That momentum must be carried into Lexington and beyond. The regular season will be over in a few short hours, but the Gators shouldn’t look to the SEC and NCAA tournaments until that point.

Bradley Beal Ready To Go, Attack The Grind Of A Full NBA Season

For many reasons, it’ll be an adjustment for former Florida Gators star Bradley Beal as he starts his professional career. Taken No. 3 overall by the Washington Wizards in the NBA Draft, Beal is now in the NBA where the opponents are better and the season is longer.

Beal played in 37 games as a Gators freshman. The Wizards played 66 in the shortened season. In a typical season, they’ll add another 16 to that. Make the playoffs and it’s even more. For example, the Miami Heat participated in 23 playoff games on their run to the championship. Add that to a typical regular season and you’re looking at over 100 games; longer games at that. Washington won’t be playing in the NBA Finals for a while, but it’s safe to say endurance will be something Beal will need.

It has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is the NBA Summer League.

“I heard it’s long and busy. It’s going to be hot in Vegas, so you got to be ready for that. But I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually played five-on-five so I’m looking forward to getting back to that, and getting adjusted to the new style of basketball, the longer quarters, the whole style of play.” – Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards Guard

Much will be expected of Beal; he’s already a key part of Washington’s rebuilding process. Looking to the future, the Wizards will use Beal’s talents at a number of positions. Having played both guard positions and spending time at forward when with the Gators, Beal is comfortable all over the court. His size will limit his ability to go against the larger forwards, but his talent should make up for any height disadvantage.

An exciting chapter is starting for Beal and while the Wizards won’t turn around their fortunes overnight, they should be a fun team to watch.

Washington Wizards Select Bradley Beal No. 3 Overall In 2012 NBA Draft

Bradley Beal didn’t have to wait long. On Thursday night, the former Florida Gators guard was selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. With Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – both of Kentucky – going No. 1 and No. 2, Beal made it three SEC freshman in a row. That marked the first time since 1986 – before any of the three were alive – that one conference supplied the first three selections.

Beal joins a team looking to change its image and practically everything else about it. The Wizards are building for the future around John Wall – another former Kentucky No. 1 overall – and have begun to add pieces to the puzzle recently. Washington traded for Nene during the 2011-12 season and recently added Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor to the mix. With Beal joining the group, that’s a solid lineup that should be able to build on last season’s 20-46 record.

The former Gator should fit in well as something of a combo guard in the NBA. Beal is a pure shooter that many have described as the next coming of Ray Allen. Listed at 6’3″, size could be an issue for Beal, but he plays strong and moves well to the rim when the need arises. With a fluid shot and a solid all-around game, Beal should have little trouble adapting to the NBA and becoming a valuable part of Washington’s rebuilding plans.

Being drafted wasn’t the only thing that made Beal’s Thursday night a good one. He also celebrated his 19th birthday. On his birthday, Beal became the second former Florida star selected No. 3 overall, matching the feat accomplished by Al Horford in 2007. Neal Walk still holds the title of highest Gator selected. He went No. 2 overall to the Phoenix Suns in 1969.

The Gators will miss Beal tremendously in the 2012-13 season, but he made the right move entering the draft. There were a few outliers that had him falling to the second half of the first round, but anyone that knew anything about his game had him as a lock for the top five. It’ll be tough to not have the opportunity to watch him in orange and blue anymore, but rewarding at the same time to watch him in the NBA.

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Bradley Beal’s NBA Draft Workout

The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD) features, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. If you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

A few weeks ago, Bradley Beal showed off his skills in an NBA Draft workout in Chicago. He likely continued to help his draft stocks too and showed off his great shooting touch.

Tonight, Bradley Beal will be drafted. What was already a special day because it was his birthday (my birthday too!) will become the biggest in his life. Up to this point, Beal has done all he has had to do to prepare for tonight. That includes performing well at pre-draft workouts, improving during his college post-season, and having all the right answers for interviews.

Bradley Beal has done it all to this point, and tonight he will be ready.

Good luck, Bradley, with whichever team you land with.

Bradley Beal And The Washington Wizards Could Be Near Perfect Match

The 2012 NBA Draft is only a few days away. On that night, the speculation will end and we’ll finally learn where former Florida Gators guard Bradley Beal will begin his professional career.

Among the teams interested in Beal are the Washington Wizards, the current holders of the third overall pick. It’s reasonable to think Beal could be available for Washington, and just as reasonable to believe the Wizards may grab him if they can. If that were the case, Beal would consider himself lucky.

“I know D.C. is really restructuring all of their sports programs and to be a Washington Wizard would mean the world to me. At the same time I know I can come in and make an impact as best I can and just try to get the team back on a winning streak.” – Bradley Beal, Former Florida Gators Guard

Beal appeared on The LaVar Arrington Show (yes, that Lavar Arrington) on Monday and discussed the possibility of ending up with the Wizards. With plenty of young sports talent in Washington D.C., the former Gator feels he would fit right in. Beal believes in his ability to make an impact immediately and hopes to be able to help whichever team selects him. As one of the draft’s top prospects, that could be a team with a number of needs. Beal should be able to fill some of those from day one.

With the recent trade of Rashard Lewis, the Wizards look to be rebuilding around former first overall pick John Wall. Lewis’s hefty contract was replaced by two players – Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor – that will be expected to contribute right away. Add those two to Wall and Nene and you have a team searching for a new identity – one that may include Beal in the very near future.

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Bradley Beal Works Out With The Washington Wizards

The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD) features, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. If you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

Bradley Beal is on his way to bigger and better things. The former Florida star worked out on Thursday for the Washington Wizards who have the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft. With his workout, Beal set a strong plea that the Wizards should take Beal with their first pick. Below is his workout video.

Beal also impressed with the way he handled his pre-draft workout interview, where he appeared composed and had all the right answers to what he was asked.

Beal certainly has worked hard to get to the point he is at today. He’s traversed from struggling to live up to his sharp-shooter reputation in his freshman season to becoming one of the Gators’ team leaders and eventually a potential top-5 draft pick.

Since the pre-draft process has started, Beal has impressed. One site even believes that for the Wizards, it’s Beal or bust.

How do you feel about the way Beal has progressed this year? Is he deserving of a top-5 pick? How do you like the prospects of him going to the Wizards?

Bradley Beal Has No Objections With Being Drafted By The Cleveland Cavaliers

If LeBron James were my favorite player and the Miami Heat my favorite team (which he is and they are), I think I’d be a little wary about being drafted by LeBron’s former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in the NBA Draft. However, that’s not the case for projected top-five pick and former Florida Gators’ star Bradley Beal.

On Monday, the former Gator joined a Cleveland radio show to discuss the possibilities of ending up a Cavalier. While Beal is known to be a big LeBron James and Miami Heat fan, he didn’t rule out the Cavaliers as a possible landing spot, as many of us passionate fans would. No, Beal took the classy route and even said playing with Cavs’ star point guard Kyrie Irving would be a great benefit to him.

“I believe playing with Kyrie would benefit me as well. He’s a true point guard. He can score, he can pass and he can pretty much do it all.” – Bradley Beal, Former Florida Gators Guard

Sure the possibility of Beal not being drafted by the Cavs is still high, especially since the Cavs are reportedly eyeing Harrison Barnes, but that doesn’t stop Beal from looking forward to a possible Cleveland team with last year’s Rookie of the Year. Beal applauded the whole team’s talent, saying Irving has “great teammates around him as well.”

Though Beal was aware of Cavs’ coach Byron Scott’s reputation with developing guards, he wants to develop a good relationship with whichever coach he lands with.

“Where ever I get drafted I’m pretty sure I’m going to click with the coach as best as I can to develop a relationship with him.” – Beal

According to Beal, among the aspects of Beal’s game that he wants to improve are his lateral quickness and ball handling. He also hopes to develop himself into a combo guard.

On June 28, Beal will be the 33rd player to be drafted to the NBA out of Florida. Despite the whole getting drafted thing, the 28th is already a big day for Beal; it’s his birthday.

We wish the best for Beal once he’s drafted and thank him for the great year and memories he’s provided the Gators. He is truly a special player, and will always be a Gator to us. Good luck, Brad!

Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Kasey Hill Is Going To Be One Heck Of A Point Guard

It’s the summer break. While that doesn’t mean much besides warmer air and more annoying kids outside for all of you year-long workers, summer means more free time for students. We hope that you will be spending more time reading The Bull Gator, as I will be spending more time posting at it. That means it’s time for a new series at TBG. The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD for short) will feature, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. And if you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

I know it’s a little early to be getting hyped up for the 2013-14 basketball season, but we’re going to anyway. If you didn’t already know, back in December, Billy Donovan received a commitment from possibly the top point guard in the 2013 recruiting cycle, Kasey Hill. Hill, who will be entering his senior season at Montverde Academy, is ranked as the No. 6 overall recruit on ESPN and is No. 8 on Rivals.

So why should you get pumped up about Hill? If the national rankings aren’t enough for you folks, here are Hill’s highlights from his junior season, compiled by HomeTeamHoops.

This guy’s going to be something.

Do you buy the hype of Hill? Will he be better than Brad Beal? Any John Wall comparisons?

2012 Basketball Recruiting: Florida Signs DeVon Walker

There’s a new Walker in town.

On a day that was largely dominated by Bradley Beal’s decision to go pro, the Florida Gators received some good news with DeVon Walker’s commitment by signing his letter of intent Friday. Walker also held offers from Alabama, Clemson, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas State, Miami and UCF, but his final choice came down to the Gators and Crimson Tide.

Though Walker’s decision became official Friday, news that he had decided to play for the Gators had been leaked out earlier this week. Coincidentally, Beal’s decision came on the same day as Walker’s commitment, freeing up the scholarship space for Walker, while still leaving room for an Anthony Bennett commitment, who the Gators have been heavily recruiting.

Although Walker, a three-star recruit and the No. 142-ranked player by Rivals, may not be the same caliber as the one he’s replacing, Beal, he may still be able to help an undersized Florida team. With his 6’6″ height and his seven-foot wingspan, Walker looks to add length and athleticism to a roster consisting mostly of undersized guards. You can see an example of Walker’s athleticism here:

Due to the Gators lack of size, Walker will likely play some of both forward positions in addition to the wing.

Walker joining the Gators brings the 2012 class to a total of four new players, but it may expand to five with Bennett’s decision looming. Will the Gators land any non-guard players this year? We’ll have to wait until May to find out.

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Bradley Beal To Announce His Intentions To Enter NBA Draft

Florida Gators freshman star Bradley Beal will announce he is forgoing his remaining eligibility to enter the NBA Draft. Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com has been informed by sources that the guard will leave Florida after one season.

Although disappointing to Florida fans, this news comes as no surprise to anyone. Beal is projected by many to be a top-five pick in the 2012 draft and some even believe he could go as high as No. 3 overall.

The 6’3” Beal was the key in the Gators march to the Elite Eight in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. He put the team on his back and played his best toward the end of the season, proving to many he was ready to make the jump to the NBA after only one year.

The Gators will not only have to replace Beal’s scoring, but also his determined rebounding and growing leadership on the court. For a guard, he had an impressive all-around game that will serve him well in the NBA. Beal’s departure and the recent transfer of reserve forward Walter Pitchford have opened up two scholarships for Billy Donovan and his staff to fill.

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