Former UF standout Brewer welcomes returning to OKC

Former Gator standout in Gainesville for youth basketball camp

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Corey Brewer cheers on camp goers as they play a game of basketball during the 9th Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp at Santa Fe College on Tuesday. All of the proceeds from the camp will be donated to the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at the UF Diabetes Institute. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun]

Corey Brewer found comfort being reunited in the NBA with his former Florida coach, Billy Donovan, in Oklahoma City.

So much so that Brewer wouldn’t mind re-signing with the Thunder for this upcoming season.

“I would like to go back there,” Brewer said at his annual Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp at Santa Fe College on Tuesday. “We’ll see what happens. Free agency is always crazy, you never know what can happen. But you know, hopefully I just land in a good spot.”

Brewer, 32, took a buyout on the final year of his three-year deal to leave the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Thunder last March. The 6-foot-9 Brewer averaged 10.1 points in 18 games for the Thunder while filling in as a wing defender to try to replace Oklahoma City forward Andre Roberson, who was lost for the year with an injury.

Brewer said being with Donovan was like old times. The 11-year NBA veteran played under Donovan at Florida from 2005-07, helping lead UF to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

“I was really comfortable being with coach because you know, we went through a lot of wars together,” Brewer said. “We were able to talk, communicate, really well.”

Whether or not Brewer re-signs with the Thunder as a free agent could hinge on whether Paul George decides to re-sign with the team. George could return to the Thunder or join forces with LeBron James if James opts out of his deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers later this week.

“It’s all about what LeBron does and what Paul George does,” Brewer said. “Once those guys make those decisions, everything will fall.”

Regardless of whether he re-signs with Oklahoma City or not, Brewer said he feels like his stint there helped raise his stock. The Thunder reached the playoffs for the third time in three seasons under Donovan but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz.

“I played pretty well,” Brewer said. “I averaged 10-some, I shot the ball really well. I think I helped myself.”

Brewer was back in Gainesville for his ninth Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp, which raises money for the Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund at Shands Hospital. Close to 100 kids ranging in age from 5-17 attended the event, which was held for the first time at the Santa Fe College gym.

“It’s been amazing, just to see all the kids that have been coming the last nine, 10 years,” Brewer said. “They went from like to third grade and now they are in high school. It’s amazing just to see them grow and the way the camp is growing. At one time we were getting 50, 60 people, today the people coming to camp now, we’re selling out.”

Brewer himself has grown in a successful NBA career that’s includes stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and the Thunder. Brewer and his former frontcourt UF teammates, Al Horford and Joakim Noah, all have lasted 11 years in the NBA after being picked in the lottery of the 2017 NBA draft.

“We’re still kicking,” Brewer said. “We’re still making it. A lot of guys, you make it to the NBA, great. But it’s about staying. For us, I think we’ve done a good job taking care of our bodies and we’re able to play as long as we’ve played.”

Horford helped lead the Boston Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season. Noah, meanwhile, appeared in just seven games for the New York Knicks this past season and took a leave of absence from the team due to being upset over lack of playing time. Noah has two years remaining on a four-year $72 million contact.

Brewer said he worked out with Noah a few days ago.

“Jo is doing great,” Brewer said. “You know it was a tough situation for him in New York. I think he’s going to be better. He had a year just to prepare, get his mind right, get his body right. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people when he comes back this year.”

Brewer said there are “a few things” he would like to do when his NBA career ends, but hasn’t thought about life after basketball fully yet.

“I’ve still got a lot left in the tank,” Brewer said. “I can play a little while longer.”

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. Possibly the most entertaining and multitalented player UF has had. Definitely not the best in anything (maybe perimeter defense), but just watching him have so much fun and bring so much energy to the game always brought a smile to my face. Having a few pretty decent teammates didn’t hurt his play either. I’m so happy he,
    Noah, and Horford have been able to stick around in the NBA for so long.

  2. Corey is a great team player. Good defender and always plays hard. I hope he does go back to OKC. I think Coach Donovan appreciates his skills and knows he is a valuable player. I guess we will find out where the chips fall on July 4 when Lebron decides where he is going.

  3. Corey was entertaining but Noah with his stickety dance takes the cake. What a glorious time to be a Gator fan that was. We were unranked coming in to the season. David Lee had graduated and Peep and Walsh ill advisedly went pro. We lost 70% of our scoring from the year before. Enter the 04’s. Noah was like a completely different player than he was as a freshman. We just kept winning and finally they had to rank us. I could go on and on. I’m smiling thinking about it. Oh and then they turn down millions to came back for the repeat. Wow!

  4. That team was one of the best “teams” I have ever seen in college basketball the past 50+ years. There were more talented ones , for sure, but these guys were a real team in every sense of the word. Everyone was a like a piece to a puzzle that looked awesome once you completed it.Their skills complimented each other. Fun to watch. I hope Jo gets his head together and makes a comeback.

    • Agree but don’t downgrade the talent for a second. Corey Brewer posted the first triple-double in UF history. Brewer, Horford and Noah were lottery picks for a reason. Horford has gone on to be a four-time All-Star. Noah a two-time All-Star and NBA defensive player of the year. Brewer scored more than 50 points in an NBA game. Al three have lasted 11 years in the NBA. Look back at the film. All three were RELENTLESS competitors, crashed the boards constantly, defended, played with max effort. It’s the best college basketball frontcourt in the past 20 years. The fact that all three were selfless enhanced their ability to make of the most of their talent and win championships together in college.

  5. When Brewer, Horford, Noah, and the others on the 2005-2007 team played, Florida became known as more than just a football school. Donovan had won some SEC titles by then but when the Gators won back-to-back NCAA National Championships in basketball in 2006 and 2007 peoples eyes were opened. Especially when the football team alson won the NCAA Title in foootball in 2006. It will be hard to have another basketball team like that one.