Fresh Faces of the SEC: Florida’s Nick Calathes

Tim PollockSenior Writer IJanuary 16, 2008

To opposing fans, “Little Nicky” is the skinny white kid with the funny haircut. 

Fans down in Gainesville, however, see Nick Calathes as the one who can bring Florida back to national prominence.

It’s hard to blame them.  

A dual citizen of both the U.S. and Greece, Calathes came to Florida with almost every possible high school award one can imagine:

At Lake Howell High School, Nick played in the State Final Four all four years of his career, winning two state championships; he was a two-time Mr. Basketball winner; he became the leading scorer in Seminole County history; and he was a McDonald’s All-American, a Parade All-American, a Jordan All-American, and the Gatorade Player of the Year.

Gator fans have long been familiar with Calathes’ accolades. After all, he did commit to Billy Donovan when he was only a sophomore in high school—and only six feet two inches tall.

Now standing four inches taller, Calathes has become Florida’s Mr. Do-It-All through 18 games this season.

A point guard at heart, Calathes is currently starting at shooting guard, while also logging minutes at the point and swingman.  This versatility is exactly why Calathes has been such a handful for opponents.   

While his team-leading 15.2 points per game shows a clearly capable scorer, Calathes is the SEC’s leading assist man, dishing six dimes per game.  He’s also nabbing nearly five rebounds per contest.  In short, the kid is everywhere—much like his hair.    

Calathes’ ability is without question, but his success is aided by three major factors:

For starters, Billy Donovan.  A former scoring guard at Providence, Donovan has become one of the premiere backcourt coaches in the nation, taking an undersized kid like Lee Humphrey and turning him into an X-factor on a national championship team. 

Despite his x’s and o’s prowess, though, Donovan has carved out his niche for reaching his players on a personal level—as a father-figure of sorts.  Donovan’s already long-standing relationship with Calathes is a prime example of this.   

Second, Calathes entered Florida as part of the number one recruiting class in the nation, which features Calathes’ high school teammate—six-nine forward Chandler Parsons. 

In addition to Parsons, Donovan also nabbed point guard Jai Lucas, son of former NBA pg John Lucas; Adam Allen, another tall rangy shooter; and Alex Tyus, a dunk machine and shot blocker.       

Finally, Calathes had the luxury of watching a close relative go through the collegiate experience.  While not as celebrated a high school player as his younger brother, Pat Calathes earned a scholarship to St. Joseph’s University, where he is now a senior. 

And while Pat had to work his way into the playing rotation over the years, he is now the leading scorer for the Hawks, putting up over 18 a game—certainly a product of the Calathes work ethic. 

Calathes might not be ready to carry this Florida team on his back just yet, but he’ll do everything in his power to make it happen, as he did in a late comeback loss at Ole Miss Wednesday night. 

The Gators are young, unproven, and inexperienced, but Calathes alone makes them worth watching.