Gators sophomores say they will return to Gainesville

Updated: April 7, 2006, 9:01 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Florida sophomores Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford told a partisan crowd at the national championship celebration Friday night in Gainesville that they would return for their junior season.

Florida sports information director Fred Demarest said the three sophomores announced to the fans that they would return, bringing the "O'Connell Center down."

Noah was the Final Four most outstanding player with an NCAA Tournament record 29 blocked shots in six games. The Gators beat UCLA on Monday night at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for their first national title. The Gators were ESPN.com's preseason No. 1 team in the annual post-title game Top 25 released Wednesday.

Demarest said that Horford grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd "we've won two SEC [tournament] titles, an NCAA championship and we're not sure how much more we can accomplish." But Demarest then said Noah followed up with, "What do you people want us to do?" The crowd apparently chanted back, "two more years." And then Noah said, "we're coming back."

Coach Billy Donovan confirmed the news, telling The Associated Press that he met with the three players Friday afternoon and they told him they wanted to try to repeat.

No team has won consecutive championships since Duke in 1991 and 1992.

The deadline to apply for the NBA draft is April 29. Players can declare and return as long as they don't sign with an agent. They must also pay for any NBA workout in advance (except for the Orlando pre-draft camp in June) or run the risk of sitting games the following season if they choose to return.

A year ago, North Carolina junior Sean May said he would return upon the championship Tar Heels returning home. But he later declared. So, it's probably good to wait for the 29th once all the emotion from the title is over before locking in the three Gators for next season.

The Gators had only one senior on the roster this season -- forward Adrian Moss.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com