College / Oct 1, 2010 / 12:45 pm

Florida’s Chandler Parsons leads the best starting five in America

Experience is priceless in college basketball, which is why the Florida Gators have to be considered a legit threat to make another Final Four run and possibly contend for a national championship in 2010-11.

Florida is returning its entire starting five from last season, a group that won 21 games and earned an NCAA Tournament berth: Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin.

Parsons is the leader of the Gators. A 6-10 senior small forward who averaged 12.4 points and 6.9 rebounds last season — and knocked down buzzer-beating shots to win games against N.C. State and South Carolina — he is on the radar of NBA teams and everyone in the SEC.

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Dime: How’s your summer been?
Chandler Parsons: My summer was great. I spent a lot of time in the weight room getting stronger and faster. I also traveled to Greece for two weeks and worked out with Nick Calathes (former high school and UF teammate). I also played very well at the Kevin Durant and the LeBron James Skills Academy this summer.

Dime: You’re one of the most versatile players in college basketball. Have you been working on any specifics of your game this offseason?
CP: Being 6-10, I want to be able to do everything, from scoring to defending, my handles, my passing, posting up, rebounding, and playing at the point. I work on my handles every day against pressure, along with two-ball dribbling and putting up a lot of shots so I can become a knock-down shooter. I want to continue to get stronger so I can post up smaller guys, and when they put some size on me, I work on my quickness and try to beat them off the dribble to create my own shot.

Dime: After Nick left Florida, how did you feel about having to step up and become the new leader of the team?
CP: Nick had a great opportunity for him and his family, and it was different at first playing without him. I learned to lead — vocally and physically — and had to learn how to create my own shot and not just rely on Nick to get me good looks because of his passing abilities.

Dime: Tell me what went through your mind after hitting those two buzzer-beaters last season?
CP: The buzzer-beaters were unreal. The N.C. State shot was a miracle. I was truly blessed on that shot and it was an unbelievable feeling to get a win over a quality team like that on the road. At home versus South Carolina was awesome because it was a huge game for our season and it was at home. It was definitely one of the best feelings I have ever had as a player and I was fortunate enough to have my parents at both of those games.

Dime: How did it feel to make your first NCAA Tournament last season as a Gator?
CP: Getting to the tournament was great. We have much higher goals this season as a team and are not content on just getting there. I think we got a good taste of what it’s like going into double-overtime (versus BYU) and losing.

Dime: With a returning starting five, you guys are the favorites to win the SEC East. As a team, what needs to be accomplished?
CP: We have a great nucleus coming back. I think we have the best starting five in the country, and we also have great depth and size coming off the bench. We need to just become the best team we can become and work each day and not let expectations get to our head. But I do have very high expectations and think we have a chance to be special.

Dime: What do you think about the recent news of Austin Rivers choosing Duke over Florida?
CP: Austin going to Duke really doesn’t affect me. He thought that was the best place to pursue his career. I’ve known his family for a very long time and wish him the best of luck.

Dime: With incoming players like Patric Young, Casey Prather, (2011 commit) Brad Beal, and Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, what does the future of Florida basketball look like?
CP: Florida’s future in basketball is bright. Guys like Erik Murphy, Young, and Prather are going to be really good. Cody Larson and Will Yeguete also bring size and energy every day and will be valuable. Mike will definitely make some noise once he’s eligible and I expect Florida to be a contender for years to come.

Dime: This is your final year as a Gator. Looking back, what’s your favorite memory?
CP: My favorite memory will be playing for Coach (Billy) Donovan and playing in front of the Rowdy Reptiles. Also playing alongside some great guys for four years and making a huge run this upcoming season.

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  • http://thesphericalstudies.blogspot.com Professor J

    I go to UF and agree they will be much improved next year. I just want to see one of their big men really step up and provide a low post presence that theyve lacked since horford and noah.

    Its too bad about Rivers but im excited for boynton to make a big jump. Guy can flat out score.

    GO GATORS!

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ Professor J

    Vernon Macklin is going to be great in the low post this season!

  • http://thesphericalstudies.blogspot.com Professor J

    @Andrew:
    i hope so! He was a little underwhelming last year but is definitely a talent. Im looking for patric young to make a positive impact as well

  • ShowKase

    I was at UF during the “Oh Four” years and those were some good times. I like how the team looks this year and I think Vern’s going to have a big year. SEC Championship should definitely be the minimal expectation for this year’s squad.

    Oh yea, that Erik Murphy kid is going to be a great spark coming off the bench.

  • JC

    I love it! This is a sorely needed pep talk for a Gator hoops program that is still reeling from Austin Rivers’ official commitment to Duke.

    Chandler has a real opportunity to do some big things this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the real Kenny Boynton.

  • Christan Grant

    Don’t sleep on Brad Beal. He might end up with a better college career than Rivers. He fits really well into Billy D’s system. I am thinking a Matt Walsh type.

  • Go UK

    Patric Young may very well put Parson’s on the bench. Florida will be a excellent SEC team this year. UK won’t be over looking them!

  • SEC

    is this whole article written sarcastically

  • http://www.dimemag.com Lucas Shapiro

    Really hope that Erik Murphy from St. Marks can get some burn this year!

  • Joe

    dude you cannot be serious. You come up with this now after your other story about the gators challenging duke for national supremacy. How many factual errors were in that one again ? Like 3-4?

    but really, do you have any evidence about your guys being the best starting five other than they won an amazing 21 games last year and that CP says so? Holy crap….returning all five starters from a 21 game winning 1st rd. ncaa team ! LOOK OUT !!! the gators are back !!!

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ Joe

    Scared much?

  • Ian

    @ Andrew

    Scared of what? Kenny Boynton chucking up shots? Chandler Parsons hitting a full court shot to beat NC State?

    This is an absolutely terrible article, and no, Florida is not going to challenge for anything next year.

    And FWIW, Duke, Purdue and MSU all CLEARLY have better starting fives.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @ Ian

    It’s an interview I had with Chandler during the week, not just something I just typed up.

  • Joe

    lmao
    scared about florida ? in basketball ??? that’s some funny stuff.

    oh wait you’re serious ? hey more power to ya. maybe you can come slightly closer to notching up some wins against us. You can hang banners for moral victories right next to the “ncaa participant” rags you guys put up in the odome.

  • Cking

    Florida will be improved, patric is a stud. However they are not anywhere near as talented as the 04 teams. This is a team with little past success, and the pressure will be on.

    Kentucky has more talent, and if Kanter is cleared they could be ridiculous. Don’t forget about the volunteers or Georgia, both will likely have more success in the upcoming SEC season than than this Florida team.

    On the national level, MSU Duke and purdue are clearly superior in all aspects, but all have their own issues and circumstances.

  • b

    I can see UK, Vandy, and Georgia all being better. Have to like all the players they’re returning but this is hardly brewer, horford, and noah, or even mike miller, dupay and haslem.