Rosario begins Olympic dream


Mike Rosario didn’t have the junior season at Florida that some may have envisioned.

But the former Rutgers standout could have a chance to further develop his game this summer against high-level international competition. Rosario began tryouts for the Puerto Rican National Team this week. If Rosario makes the squad, he’ll take part in a qualifying tournament in early July for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Rosario was born in Jersey City, N.J., but his mother was born in Puerto Rico, which qualifies him for eligibility to join the team. On Wednesday, Rosario tried out with several American college players, including Jorge Brian Diaz of Nebraska, Kevin Young of Kansas and Chris Gaston of Fordham.

The 6-foot-3 Rosario, who transferred from Rutgers in 2010, averaged 6.6 points and 1.4 rebounds off the bench in his first season of eligibility at UF. He showed flashes of his offensive ability, scoring 19 points off the bench in his Florida debut against Jackson State and 12 points off the bench in UF’s NCAA Tournament second-round win over Norfolk State.

But Rosario also struggled with injuries and inconsistency during the course of the season. He got into UF coach Billy Donovan’s doghouse for his lack of intensity on the defensive end of the floor in both games and practices. His defense improved during the course of the season, but it was hard for him to find playing time behind established starters Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal.

With Walker and Beal gone, Rosario has a chance to win a starting job next season. He’ll likely compete with Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete for minutes at either point guard, shooting guard and and/or three guard/small forward.

Rosario isn’t the only Gator with designs on the Olympics. Former Gator Joakim Noah said he hopes to recover from his sprained ankle in time to try out for the French Olympic Team. Al Horford intends to try out for the Dominican Republic while Nick Calathes is expected to make the Greek Olympic squad.

Other notes:

— Former Gator forward Chandler Parsons finished ninth in NBA rookie of the year voting. Parsons, the 36th overall pick by the Houston Rockets, averaged 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in his rookie season, while starting 57 of the 63 games he appeared in.

— According to the website, Florida is a 15-1 favorite to win the national title in 2013, behind only Indiana (7-1), Louisville (8-1) and Kentucky (10-1). Duke, UCLA and North Carolina also are at 15-1. Florida returns three starters from a team that finished 26-11 and reached the Elite Eight, but lost second-leading scorer and leading rebounder Bradley Beal to the NBA Draft.