Florida coach Billy Donovan is happy to see Chandler Parsons having success in his rookie season with the Houston Rockets.
“I’m really, really proud of him from where he was a freshman and a sophomore and what he went through here and then at the level that he’s at now,” Donovan said.
Drafted in the second round, Parsons is coming off a career-high 20-point performance for the Rockets in an 82-70 win at the Charlotte Bobcats. In nine games with the Rockets (including three starts), Parsons is averaging 7.2 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Parsons was UF’s first-ever SEC player of the year last season, helping lead the Gators to an SEC regular-season title and Elite Eight appearance.
“Hopefully the experience he had at Florida as a player prepared him for that next step in his life as a player,” Donovan said. “And it’s encouraging to see a guy that gets taken in the second round and has started some games and done well.”
Center Vernon Macklin, another second-round pick from UF’s 2010-11 team, is averaging 1.2 ppg in six games with the Detroit Pistons.
It’s been an up-and-down early season for Gators in the NBA. Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford went down with a torn pectoral muscle and could be out for the rest of the season. Marreese Speights was traded in last week from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Donovan said he talked with Horford and Joakim Noah on Thursday. Noah is going through some struggles in his fifth season with Chicago Bulls.
“Obviously I felt bad for Al and his injury and being out as long as he is and obviously had a good talk with Jo, he’s having some issues with his hand,” Donovan said. “I talk to those guys, I wouldn’t say on a regular basis, but I do reach out to those guys and communicate with them.”
Overall, Florida has 10 players on NBA rosters. All 10 played under Donovan during his 15-plus year tenure. The others are Mike Miller (Miami Heat), Udonis Haslem (Miami Heat), David Lee (Golden State Warriors), Corey Brewer (Denver Nuggets) and Matt Bonner (San Antonio Spurs).
“If you look at there guys, I only have them for a short period of time,” Donovan said. “For Vernon it was 3 years, for Chandler it was 4 years, Joakim, Al, Corey it was 3, and what you are trying to do in a lot of ways in create an epiphany for them, where there are things they see if life that alters and changes the way they view things when they see that their view of things is not going to help them down the road.
“I’m just happy that the guys that have been fortunate to go on and play at that level, that those guys, through the experience here have been prepared to take on the next step in their life. And I think not only winning games here, I think that is a large part of my job here as well as a coach is to try to help those guys in that area.”