State Colleges

UF, UM only Florida universities with players in NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Mike Miller (18) shoots against the Miami Heat at HSBC Arena on October 11, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Mike Miller (18) shoots against the Miami Heat at HSBC Arena on October 11, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Getty Images

It may be hard to believe, but Florida, with 12, and Miami, with three, are the only universities in the state that have any of its former players in the NBA.

Florida State is a powerhouse in football but invisible in the NBA. UCF, South Florida, FIU, FAU and the rest of the schools in the state also lack NBA representation.

The Gators’ contingent is led by Bulls center Joakim Noah, Hawks center Al Horford, Warriors power forward David Lee, Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons, Cavaliers wing Mike Miller, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal and Grizzlies point guard Nick Calathes.

Miami pales in comparison to Florida but at least has three of its former players in the league — forward James Jones of the Cavaliers, forward John Salmons (Pelicans) and point guard Shane Larkin (Knicks).

Meanwhile, there are five former Miami Dade County players in the NBA — Jones (American High), Heat forward Udonis Haslem (Miami High), Blazers point guard Steve Blake (Miami High), Mavericks point guard Jose Juan Barea (Miami Christian) and Knicks shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (Palmetto).

Representing Broward County is starting Bucks point guard Brandon Knight (Pine Crest).

Other than Jones, though, all those local stars left South Florida when it came time to pick a college.

FIU

Senior Chelsea Leiva, who played her last home game on Thursday, has 34 career goals, which ranks fifth on the school’s all-time list. Her 19 assists rank second in FIU soccer history.

Leiva, who is from West Palm Beach, trails Michelle O’Brien (58 goals from 1998-2001); Catherine Liller (50 from 1990-93); Cindy Greenman (44 from 1992-96); and Sasja Odenyo (37 from 2000-2001).

NOVA SOUTHEASTERN

Sydney Cook, a 5-9 junior outside hitter from Monsignor Pace, recently became the sixth volleyball player in NSU history to score 1,000 career points.

Another player to watch on the team is 6-1 redshirt freshman outside hitter Natalie Melcher, 21, who transferred from Central Florida. Melcher, who was born in Russia and raised in Israel, has played for the Israeli National Team since age 13.

MIAMI DADE COLLEGE

Danny Price was recently named the 2014 Florida Diamond Club’s College Coach of the Year. Price took MDC to the Junior College World Series, where the Sharks finished second. The Diamond Club honors one college and one high school coach per year, regardless of division or class.

Meanwhile, MDC’s women’s volleyball team is ranked No.1 in the state and fifth nationally among junior colleges.

ST. THOMAS UNIVERSITY

The women’s basketball team is favored to win the NAIA’s Sun Conference this season, according to a vote among the league’s coaches. St. Thomas won the regular-season title last season but lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

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