Thoughts of the Day: April 27, 2020

IT’S THE SEC AND THEN EVERYBODY ELSE: ANY QUESTIONS?

There is nothing like an NFL Draft to put to rest any of those jealousy inspired rumors that other leagues are starting to close ground on the Southeastern Conference. Although the SEC didn’t beat the 2019 record of 64 selections, the 63 players chosen over the weekend is a full 15 more than the second place Big Ten and 31 more than the third place Pac-12.


To put in better perspective, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which does indeed feature Clemson, which has won two national championships and finished second twice in the last five years, had only 27 taken, 20 if you minus out the seven from Clemson who were taken. Florida State had one player taken, which is one less than such traditional powerhouses as Florida International, Tulsa, Wyoming and Georgia Southern. Yes, that’s right. Georgia Southern had more players drafted (2) than FSU.


If you add just LSU (14), Alabama (9), Florida (7) and Georgia (7) together you have more players taken than the Pac-12 (31) and ACC (27). LSU and Alabama combined for more draft picks than the entire Big 12 (21).


Florida’s draftees were: C.J. Henderson, CB: Round 1, pick 9, Jacksonville

Van Jefferson, WR: Round 2, pick 25, Los Angeles Rams

Jabari Zuniga, EDGE: Round 3, pick 15, New York Jets Jonathan Greenard, EDGE: Round 3, pick 26, Houston Lamical Perine, RB: Round 4, pick 14, New York Jets

Freddie Swain, WR: Round 6, pick 35, Seattle Tyrie Cleveland, WR: Round 7, pick 38, Denver

Signing free agent contracts from UF were punter Tommy Townsend (Kansas City), wide receiver Josh Hammond (Jacksonville), defensive tackle Adam Shuler (Arizona) and linebacker David Reese (Carolina). Former Gator Kylan Johnson, who transferred to Pitt, signed a free agent deal with Miami and former Gator Chris Williamson, who transferred to Minnesota, signed a free agent deal with the New York Giants.


ALL QUIET ON THE UF HOOPS FRONT? ARE YOU KIDDING? Just when it seemed that everything was quiet and manageable on the Florida basketball front, life got seriously complicated for UF coach Mike White. Sunday it was announced rising junior Andrew Nembhard would be testing the NBA draft waters. He did it last year so it’s not exactly a shocker that he elected to do it again this spring although there is far more likelihood that he will be leaving now than there was in 2019. The Nembhard announcement was just a sign of things to come, however. Later Sunday, rising sophomore Tre Mann announced that he will put his name in the draft. That was unexpected but since he’s not retaining an agent, it is essentially a request from the NBA to tell him what he needs to be draftable after the 2020-21 season.


Whereas you can etch it in stone that Tre Mann will return for his sophomore year, it’s 50-50 – and that might be a stretch – whether Nembhard returns. Unless a whole lot changes between now and whenever the NBA elects to draft, Nembhard isn’t going to go in either the first or second rounds but by declaring he can also gauge the interest of teams in the European leagues and that is where he may very well wind up next year. Nembhard’s game in so many ways is similar to that of former Gator Nick Calathes, who pulls in excess of $3 million a year as the superstar point guard of Greek League powerhouse Panathinaikos.


Mann isn’t going anywhere. He’ll get evaluations from the NBA and if things open up on the COVID-19 front, he might get a chance to do some workouts for the NBA scouts. They’ll tell him he needs to get physically stronger and learn to play through contact among other things, but at the end of the summer, Mann will be back in Gainesville and safely in the UF fold.


Then came the announcement that Michigan big man Colin Castleton (6-11, 235) is transferring to the University of Florida. He played just under eight minutes a game for the Wolverines in 2019-20, averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. With the NCAA expected to vote on and approve a one-time no holds barred waiver for first time transfers, Castleton should be eligible immediately. Castleton signed with John Beilein out of Father Lopez in Dayton Beach in 2018. He seemed a very good fit for the Beilein system but that changed when Beilein left for the Cleveland Cavaliers job (he was fired early in the season). Castleton was not a good fit for Juwan Howard and needed a new place to start over. Florida, because of its proximity to Daytona Beach, was the logical choice but that also creates a problem.


Unless Nembhard elects to go pro somewhere, the Gators are one over the NCAA limit of 13 on scholarship. The fact that the Gators are accepting a transfer should tell you that the Florida staff expects Nembhard or someone else to leave.


As if that wasn’t enough basketball news, Ernest Ross (6-10, 210, Alachua, FL Santa Fe) announced that he’s committed to North Carolina State. Basically, there is no room in the Florida inn for Ross with the Castleton transfer but White expects to lose two or perhaps three off next season’s roster (Scottie Lewis and Keyontae Johnson almost certainly) so there will be incoming freshmen or transfers. With Ross off the board, Florida’s big man target is expected to be Warren Lynn Kidd (6-10, 220, Gainesville, FL/Bradenton, FL IMG Academy). Kidd is a Gainesville native who began his high school career playing locally at The Rock. He’s a 4-star prospect who was considered a fast riser before COVID-19 shut down the camp and AAU circuits. Kidd is rated the #17 center nationally by 247Sports. The Gators are also considered the leader for Kowacie Reeves (6-6, 180, Macon, GA Westside), ranked by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect and the #5 combo guard in the country. Florida’s point guard target is expected to be Ryan Nembhard (6-1, 160, Aurora, Ontario/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy), Andrew’s younger brother.


The UF roster as of April 27, 2020 Redshirt juniors (2): Anthony Dujuri (6-8, 220); Tyree Appleby (6-1, 165) Juniors (5): Keyontae Johnson (6-5, 235); Andrew Nembhard (6-5, 193); Noah Locke (6-3, 202); Osayi Osifo (6-8, 210, Juco TR); Colin Castleton (6-11, 235, TR) Sophomores (5): Scottie Lewis (6-5, 180); Tre Mann (6-4, 180); Omar Payne (6-10, 225); Jason Jitoboh (6-11, 280); Jacques Glover (5-11, 170) Freshmen (2): Samson Ruzhenstsev (6-8, 205); Niels Lane (6-5, 195)


RODNEY DANGERFIELD AWARD: JAKE FROMM STATE FARM

Heading into the NFL Draft, it was thought Georgia QB Jake Fromm had an NFL mind and a college arm. Obviously, that’s what the scouts thought as Fromm plummeted from a pre-combine grade of late first to second round down to a fifth round choice for the Buffalo Bills in the draft. Fromm had a rather average to poor combine in which his arm strength issues were exacerbated by having to throw in between Jacob Eason and Justin Herbert. It was like having Phil Niekro throw in between Sandy Koufax and Roger Clemons.


If ever a QB needed a pro day to rectify his situation, it was Fromm but no matter how impressed the scouts were with his intellect and grasp of the game, it kept coming back to how he threw at the combine. Having a pro day might not have helped him all that much, but at least it would have given him a chance to perhaps show he just had a bad day in Indianapolis.


Without a chance for redemption, Fromm nosedived. He got no respect whatsoever and with free agents with big arms like Cam Newton and Jameis Winston available, no one felt the need to draft Fromm any earlier than the fifth.


At Buffalo he’ll be backing up a QB (Josh Allen) who was a first round pick two years ago, one who is nowhere near reaching his potential. Of course, Fromm is an injury away from having a chance to prove he can play at the NFL level but he could become Captain Clipboard. There’s nothing wrong with making a million a year while wearing a baseball cap and carrying a clipboard around but starters get the big bucks.


And just for the record, Fromm was taken with the 167th pick overall in the draft, four spots below what Aaron Murray was chosen back in 2014.


TO CALL KANNELL A MORON WOULD BE AN INSULT TO MORONS

When I think Danny Kannell I am reminded by something the piano player at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Gainesville told me more than 50 years ago when discussing a certain Florida football player who frequented his establishment: “Intelligent thoughts die quickly in his brain because they can’t stand solitary confinement.” At some point it stands to reason that Kannell would come up with something intelligent to say that would break his years long streak of stupid comments. Reason will have to wait awhile because the NFL Draft and Kannell’s brain collided this weekend. On Twitter, Kannell said, “It’s no surprise the SEC is dominating the draft and have for the past decade. They buy the best players. CFB is an arms race. When you can outspend everyone else it creates the imbalance. Big prob for the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12. Only Big 10 can come close.”


That led Mark Packer, who is one of the hosts on the ACC Network to tweet out, “Danny, Danny, Danny … The SEC is a fanastic football league … the upper tier teams are incredible. It’s ok to admit it. Why do you keep fighting this topic? The league’s success should be a catalyst for other teams and conferences to get better. It’s that simple.”


Kannell tried to cover his tush by claiming he was talking about recruiting budgets, but his long time bias toward the SEC and his inability to come to grips with the SEC’s success (10 national championships since 2006; ACC 3, Big Ten 1) are continuous cause for him to open his mouth and when he does that you can always count on something stupid.


The SEC does spend money because it makes money. Lots of it. It makes money because it (a) hires excellent football coaches and (b) that lures top talent to the league since kids want to play against the best competition which leads to more television and booster money.


One last comment. Do some SEC schools have boosters that might bend the rules? You’re as big a moron as Danny Kannell if you don’t think so but think again if you don’t believe the boosters at ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 schools aren’t equally adept or even better at getting money to top football players in creative ways.


RANDOM THOUGHTS:How starved were we for something other than binge watching on Netflix and Amazon Prime? The NFL Draft drew 55 million viewers … Wake Forest Gump fired Danny Manning a year later than it should have. Manning is a guy who probably fits well at a place like Tulsa, which is where he was before he took the job at WFG. So, who replaces him? I’d put my money on Wes Miller, the HBC at UNC-Greensboro. The WFG practice court is named after his father, a great baseball player at the school and a serious booster. Miller can flat out coach as his 104-34 record in the last four years will attest … Baylor’s leading scorer Jared Butler declared for the NBA draft but won’t hire an agent, so he can come back. Bet the farm he’ll be back. He needs another year …Former Georgia basketball player Teshaun Hightower has been booked into the Henry County (GA) jail, charged with murder. Hightower signed with Georgia in 2017, played two seasons and then transferred to Tulane … The New England Patriots had plenty of chances to draft a quarterback and yet they didn’t. That tells me Bill Belichick is either going to make a deal with Indianapolis for Jacoby Brissett or else he’s going to sign Cam Newton. I’d put my money on Newton.

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