Fitting End For Amazing Run

The guys who entered UF together as the "oh-fours" were responsible for a conga line of "firsts" for the University of Florida Basketball Program. From the first SEC Tournament Title to first repeat NCAA Championship, and every "first" in between, they took the Gators from the second tier of major programs to the apex of college basketball.

So it's only fitting that the Gators went out with one more first for the ages; the first school to ever have three top ten picks in the first round of the NBA Draft. Al Horford (Atlanta #3), Corey Brewer (Minnesota #7) and Joakim Noah (Chicago #9) had one last day to share the spotlight and they did it quite well. All professed their love for each other and for the Gators, but now they have to prepare themselves for confrontation. Sometime in the rather near future, Noah and Horford will be battling in the paint during a Hawks/Bulls game. Brewer will be trying to pick one of their pockets from behind when the Timberwolves face one of those teams. It'll never be the same.

Draft night was a pleasant surprise for Chris Richard who was the eleventh pick in round two and is joining Brewer in the frozen north. Richard only started a couple of times in his four-year career but the Wolves have to love his physical strength and competitiveness. He probably won't start in the NBA either, but he can contribute to a team with solid minutes off the bench when the top guys need rest or find themselves in foul trouble.

The evening was also probably a bit disappointing for Taurean Green who fell to #22 in the second round. Green will try to make the Portland Trail Blazers where he will ironically try to feed the ball to Greg Oden. One thing that helps his chances is that Oden is very impressed with the former Gator point guard and there are indications they have hit it off well in the pre-draft get togethers. You cannot overstate the value of having the franchise player on your side. Portland also gave up two guards when they traded Zac Randolph to the Knicks and they plan to release the guard (Steve Francis) they got back in the deal. Portland also drafted Finland guard Petteri Koponen but he is likely to spend at least one more year in Europe.

So it's now officially the end of the greatest era in Gator Basketball history. The oh-fours have gone on to the next level and the Florida Gators can turn their focus to rebuilding around the last two recruiting classes. It's going to make for a challenging, fascinating season in the O'Dome. And it'll make the NBA a whole lot more worth watching – at least for me.

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