Later, Calathes

While Florida has still not officially confirmed that Nick Calathes is leaving the Gator basketball program after two seasons to play in Greece for Panathinaikos, the news he will do so couldn't have surprised anyone. All season the word around the program had been that the sophomore wanted to move on to the professional ranks one way or the other.

Foxsports.com's Jeff Goodman reports Nick Calathes has signed with agent Dan Fegan, meaning there is no chance of him reconsidering and returning to Gainesville now.

Calathes leaves Florida with a mixed legacy. He was a first team all conference performer this season and posted terrific all around numbers. His team never reached the NCAA tournament though, and there were multiple times when Calathes came up short late in clutch situations that could have gotten them there.

Is Calathes making the right choice for himself? In the short term financially, the answer is likely yes. No draft analyst had yet projected him higher than 23rd of the first round, and most did not even have him going before the second. Calathes's hometown paper, the Orlando Sentinel, reports he will make around $1.1 million per season as well as receiving a house and car to play for the Euroleague champs. That's considerably more than he would have gotten had he manages to be selected in the latter third of the NBA first round.

The risk Calathes is taking is that once he's overseas his chances of returning to the US as a pro one day may diminish. Christian Drejer left Florida for big money in Europe, made little impact, and never wound up playing a single NBA game. There are specific drawbacks to Greek pro basketball too, as former Atlanta Hawk Josh Childress found out the hard way. After riots broke out during and after a Greek League game won by Panathinaikos Thursday, Childress was quoted as saying he would reconsider whether he would complete his three year, 20 million dollar contract.

As for Florida, the Gators are now dangerously thin at the point guard spot thanks to Calathes and Jai Lucas each having left in the past year. Billy Donovan and his staff attempted to find a point guard in the spring signing period who might be able to take some of the load off of Erving Walker next year, but were unsuccessful. If a European prospect or unexpected late qualifier with enough talent to help in the SEC becomes available, it's a given Florida will be extremely interested. Star signee Kenny Boynton, while normally more of a swingman, will likely get a chance to run some point as well.


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