Editor's Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series as we reveal who a six-man alligatorSports panel has voted as the Top 10 UF Athletes of 2008-09.
Calathes' success rare bright spot for disappointing UF men's basketball season
By ADAM BERRY, Alligator Staff Writer
In a disappointing season for the Gators, Nick Calathes' success was the silver lining.
Although the 6-foot-6 guard's two years in Gainesville weren't filled with team success in the way previous years were, Calathes left his mark on the men's basketball program as one of the most versatile, talented players to ever take the floor in the O'Connell Center.
Calathes, who left after his sophomore year to pursue a pro career in Greece, was the only player in the country last season to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and six assists per game. He led the team in points (17.2), assists (6.4) and finished third on the team in rebounds (5.3) while averaging more than 33 minutes per game.
He broke UF's single-season assists record in his first year, then proceeded to top his own mark in his sophomore year with 231. Despite only playing two years, Calathes' 452 assists rank third all-time at UF.
In his freshman year, Calathes joined Corey Brewer as the only other Gator to record a triple-double, racking up 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a second-round blowout of Creighton in the National Invitation Tournament. He then became the only player to do it twice, recording 20 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against Georgia on Jan. 28.
Calathes had to fill many roles for the Gators during his two years. He was the team's primary ballhandler and scorer, having led the team in assists in 33 out of 36 games in the 2008-09 season and was the leading scorer in 20 of them. His versatility and stuffedstat sheets came as a result of his exceptional court vision and natural feel for the game.
"The kid can't jump over a newspaper, but he had 13 rebounds tonight," said teammate Chandler Parsons after Calathes' second career triple-double.
Despite being a unanimous selection to the All-Southeastern Conference First Team in 2009 and logging sensational stats throughout his career, Calathes may not be remembered as fondly as other UF basketball stars due to his team's lack of success - two straight NIT appearances - and his failure to step up in the clutch.
If Calathes had stayed at UF, he may have been able to further improve on his already outstanding statistics, as he was already one of UF's most prolific scorers. His 1,170 points were more than any other Gator after their freshman and sophomore years.
If he returned, a junior season could have possibly given Calathes the opportunity to lead the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament berth since winning back-to-back national titles, as heralded freshman Kenny Boynton and Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin have joined the team.
For putting up impressive numbers throughout his career and being a much-needed bright spot during an otherwise disappointing year for the men's basketball team, Nick Calathes is the alligatorSports No. 4 UF Athlete of 2008-09.
BY THE NUMBERS: Calathes earned two third-place votes, one fifth-place vote, two sixth-place votes and was left off one ballot.
Electrifying playmaker Harvin fights through injury for big-time BCS performance
By PHIL KEGLER, Alligator Staff Writer
Similar to the leadup to the NFL Draft, Percy Harvin's health would be a major storyline for the Gators' two postseason games this season.
He would not play against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
He would make his triumphant return to lead UF past Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship Game.
Each told part of the Percy Harvin Saga.
His absence in Atlanta was due to an ankle sprain suffered against Florida State a week prior to the SEC title game. Harvin's injury status was the story leading up to kickoff and Gators fans' hearts sank as the then-junior came out not dressed for action.
Harvin said after the game that the trainer's final decision was one of the hardest things he ever had to hear, but he used the opportunity to inspire his teammates with a pregame speech.
"I basically told (the team) this is it," Harvin said after the game. "Don't come back in the locker room if you (don't) leave it all out on the field, or you'll have to face me and look me in the eye and tell me you hadn't given everything."
Prior to the Gators' showdown in Miami, injury news again captured the headlines.
The star playmaker would turn in one of his best performances as a Gator against Oklahoma, logging 171 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches. His 122 rushing yards was the third-best running performance in a BCS title game.
"That was one of the guttiest performances I've ever been around," coach Urban Meyer said after the game. "We've got three years together, and the one thing about (him is) the brighter the lights, the better he plays. He's a big-time game performer."
While widely known for his sharp cuts and quick speed, his stats also tell the tale of a dominating playmaker.
He was one of four players in the country to average more than 20 yards per carry in a game (minimum of seven carries) when he rumbled for a career-high 167 yards on eight carries against South Carolina on Nov. 15. Harvin ended his career having scored a touchdown in his last 15 games, the best such mark in the country.
His best receiving game also came in 2008 during the Gators' only loss of the season against Ole Miss. Harvin had 186 yards on 13 catches - both numbers set career marks.
He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 NFL Draft with the No. 22 overall pick.
For being one of the most electrifying players every time he touched the ball and coming through with a gritty performance in the BCS title game, Percy Harvin is the alligatorSports No. 3 UF Athlete of 2008-09.
BY THE NUMBERS: Harvin earned two third-place votes, two fourth-place votes, one sixth-place vote and was left off one ballot.