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Donovan a key to a Rebel's rise
When David Huertas came to him after the Gators won the 2006 national championship and wanted to transfer, Donovan helped him.
By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published January 15, 2008
In 35 games for the Gators in a reserve role, David Huertas, left, averaged 2.5 points. Now a starter at Mississippi, he is averaging 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds.
GAINESVILLE - Billy Donovan has never been one of those coaches who believes players are obligated to stick around, no matter what. So when David Huertas came to him shortly after the Gators won the 2006 national championship and said he wanted to transfer, Donovan offered to help him move on.
"I think he wanted more playing time, he wanted more shots," Donovan said Monday. "I respect any kid who's got four years to play and comes to you and says, 'Listen, this is what I want out of my career, this is what I want out of my life.' David had a chance to be part of the national championship team, he looked at what we had coming back and felt like it transferring was a better opportunity. What he wanted out of his career he could go get at Ole Miss."
Huertas has made the most of his move. The Gators face their former teammate when they travel to Ole Miss on Wednesday to take on what Donovan calls one of the best, most experienced frontcourts in the league. Huertas, who played in 35 games and averaged 2.5 points for the Gators in a reserve role, is a starter for the Rebels, averaging 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. The Rebels are 14-1, suffering their first loss at Tennessee on Wednesday.
Donovan said he couldn't be happier for Huertas.
"I've never believed in holding a young man back," he said. "I know there are coaches that if a guy wants to transfer they say you can transfer wherever you want except within the league. I've never been a big believer in that. Life's too short. These guys get a chance to play college basketball for such a short period of time, and I always think you give them the opportunity to go wherever they want to go."
CALATHES HONORED: Guard Nick Calathes was named the SEC freshman of the week. Calathes averaged 18.5 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds and shot 53.8 percent from 3-point range in wins over Alabama and Auburn last week.
RECRUITING UPDATE: The Gators have picked up several football recruits during the past week. After an oral commitment last weekend from Armwood five-star offensive lineman Matt Patchan, Lake Gibson four-star offensive tackle Ricky Barnum (6 feet 2, 275 pounds) committed to the Gators, the ninth four-star recruit in their 2008 class. Linebacker/running back T.J. Pridemore from Buford, Ga., committed Saturday. The 6-1, 228-pound athlete told Rivals.com that the UF staff said he might have a chance to play on offense and possibly at linebacker. He had 115 tackles on Buford's undefeated state championship team. The Gators are expected to host Pridemore's teammate, Omar Hunter, rated by Rivals.com as the fourth best defensive tackle in the nation.
As of Monday, the Gators have 18 oral commitments. National signing day is Feb.6.
WINNING CONFIDENCE: It's amazing what winning can do for a team's confidence. Last season, the Florida women's basketball team won nine games. After a midweek bye, the Gators (12-5,1-1 SEC) will travel to Arkansas on Sunday to try to earn their first conference road win. It's a surprising turnaround for a group of players that endured the firing of their coach last season.
"I can definitely see a growth in our confidence from the beginning of the season to where we are right now," coach Amanda Butler said. "Our kids are playing their best basketball right now, and I think from a mental standpoint we are at the peak of our season as well because they really, really believe good things are going to happen. Our expectations of what the outcome is going to be is always positive. And I think that's a huge step in the right direction for us based on where we started in November."