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9 FLORIDA

Nov. 18, 2013
Nov. 18, 2013

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Nov. 18, 2013

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9 FLORIDA

2012--13 RECORD 29--8 SEC 14--4 (1ST) WHAT'S BACK MINUTES: 54.8% POINTS: 48.5% REBOUNDS: 68.8%

This is an article from the Nov. 18, 2013 issue

The disappointment of losing in the Elite Eight for the third straight year didn't last long for coach Billy Donovan, who looked at the players who were coming back (power forward Patric Young, point guard Scottie Wilbekin, wings Michael Frazier II and Casey Prather), the transfers who would be eligible to play (guard Eli Carter from Rutgers, center Damontre Harris from South Carolina and wing Dorian Finney-Smith from Virginia Tech) and the two McDonald's All-Americans en route to Gainesville (point guard Kasey Hill and forward Chris Walker) and envisioned an even deeper run in the NCAAs. "On paper we looked like a very promising team," Donovan says.

That optimism faded as the season drew closer. The 6'10" Walker wasn't cleared academically by the NCAA to enroll in school, so he can't join the Gators until after the fall semester. Donovan suspended Wilbekin, Harris and Finney-Smith indefinitely for violations of team rules and will open the season without them. Glue guy Will Yeguete hasn't completely recovered from May surgery on his right knee. Carter isn't yet at full strength after breaking his right leg while at Rutgers last February. Frazier has mononucleosis.

That off-season roster suggested a deep, complete outfit that could run Donovan's up-tempo offense and pressure defense. Now? The coach has no idea what kind of team he'll put on the floor.

Hill could be the key to making Florida go. Athletically, he's the best point guard Donovan has had since Jason Williams in 1997--98. If the 6'1" Hill can translate the speed and court vision he showed at Florida's Montverde Academy to the Division I level, he'll provide a perfect complement to spot-up shooter Frazier, slasher Prather and post scorer Young. And Hill hasn't missed a practice. "He's shining, man," wing DeVon Walker says of Hill. "He's learning every day."

Projected Lineup (2012--13 STATS)

PG KASEY HILL†

FR. 6'1" 13.5 PPG 6.0 APG

SG MICHAEL FRAZIER II

SOPH. 6'4" 5.6 PPG 46.8 3PT%

F CASEY PRATHER

SR. 6'6" 6.2 PPG 3.7 RPG

PF WILL YEGUETE

SR. 6'8" 5.5 PPG 5.8 RPG

PF PATRIC YOUNG*

SR. 6'9" 10.1 PPG 6.3 RPG

BENCH

PG SCOTTIE WILBEKIN*

SR. 6'2" 9.1 PPG 5.0 APG

G ELI CARTER‡

JR. 6'2" 14.9 PPG 2.1 APG

*RETURNING STARTER

†HIGH SCHOOL STATS

‡RUTGERS STATS

COACH SPEAK

BILLY DONOVAN (18TH SEASON)

SIWhat can Patric Young do to get better offensively?

BD I'm not looking for him to get better. There is no reason for him to be shooting 15-foot jump shots, no reason for him to be taking eight-foot jump hooks. He needs to post up in front of the rim and run the floor. That's the only thing he needs to do. If he can master that, he'll be really effective offensively.

SIHow optimistic are you that you'll get Chris Walker on the floor this season?

BD He's working really hard [academically]. I'm optimistic that he'll be back here. The challenge is him trying to play catch-up for what he will have missed. We'll have to see how well he can pick it up. If he is here, what kind of condition is he in? How quickly can he absorb what's going on? Do you cut down what you're doing just to make it simpler for him? We'll probably have to do that with him being a freshman. If that opportunity presents itself, we'll use him as best we can.

Tournament Tracker

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

ROUND OF 64

ELITE EIGHT

ELITE EIGHT

ELITE EIGHT

SWEET 16

'09--10

'10--11

'11--12

'12--13

'13--14

PHOTOMATT STAMEY/GAINESVILLE SUN/LANDOV (HILL)TWO PHOTOSGREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MASCOT, DONOVAN)CHART