2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: Florida

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Florida Gators (Last Year: 26-11, 12-6 in SEC)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Patric Young (Sr)/Damontre Harris (Jr)

PF: Will Yeguette (Sr)/Chris Walker (Fr)

SF: Casey Prather (Sr)/Dorrian Finney-Smith (Soph)/DeVon Walker (Soph)

SG: Eli Carter (Jr)/Michael Frazier (Soph)/Dillon Graham (Soph)

PG: Kasey Hill (Fr)/Scottie Wilbekin (Sr)

Gone: G-Kenny Boynton, SG-Mike Rosario, F/C-Erik Murphy, PG-Braxton Ogbueze (transfer-Charlotte)

2013-14 Outlook:
There are a ton of questions entering the season for the Florida Gators: suspended players, guys being injured/sick, and the uncertainty of top recruit Chris Walker. However, if the roster ends up looking like it should by March, Billy Donovan will have his guys in the hunt for another deep tourney run.

Let’s start with the uncertainty. Virginia Tech transfer Dorrian Finney-Smith and South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris were supposed to be huge additions to the frontcourt, but both guys are currently suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Scottie Wilbekin was suspended in the summer due to his own off-the-court issues but has since been reinstated for the start of practices. Still, he will likely have to sit a yet to be determined number of games.

Sharpshooter Michael Frazier is recovering from mononucleosis and is expected to miss the first couple of weeks of the season. Will Yeguette is nearing 100% after offseason knee surgery, while Rutgers transfer Eli Carter is getting healthy after suffering a broken leg back in February. Both Yeguette and Carter did play in Florida’s exhibition game, so they should be good to go for the opener.

Another huge question mark is the status of highly touted freshman, and McDonald’s All-American, Chris Walker. The long, athletic power forward is not currently enrolled at Florida for the first semester due to some academic issues, but is hoping to fix that in the next couple of months and be suited up in a Gators jersey for the second semester.

So where does that leave Florida? The program returns physical and energetic post player Patric Youngm who is built like a machinem but has failed to show much progression with his offensive arsenal. Yeguette should start at power forward and has been a solid role player the past few years especially as a rebounder, but will have more on his plate until Finney-Smith and Harris return. The same can be said of wing Casey Prather, who needs to take on more of a scorer’s mentality than what has been asked of him in the past two years.

Freshman Kasey Hill was another big-time recruit for Donovan and was expected to be an impact point guard from Day 1, but that necessity has been amped up another level due to the Wilbekin situation. Carter will provide a spark in whether he’s coming off the bench or part of the starting five. DeVon Walker and Dillon Graham were seldom used as freshmen, but should see quality minutes early in the year until Frazier is cleared to play.

The Florida Gators must keep their heads above water until the full roster returns. Assuming that happens, Florida will be two deep at every position and one of the most talented teams in the country. The Gators will have size and athleticism in their frontcourt, scorers on the wing, playmaking ball-handlers, and solid role players. If these issues linger deep into the season though, Donovan must do one heck of a coaching job to live up to a top-10 ranking.

Player to Watch: Kasey Hill, PG
Florida has paraded experienced guards like Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, and Mike Rosario onto the floor in years past, but Hill needs to have a Bradley Beal-like impact for the Gators this season and make a major splash during his freshman campaign. Hill excels pushing the tempo and getting out in transition, which fits the Gators since they typically place at a quick pace. Keeping everything under control and not trying to do much will be vital for the young floor leader.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/12 at Wisconsin
  • 11/21 vs. Middle Tennessee
  • 11/29 vs. Florida State
  • 12/2 at Connecticut
  • 12/10 vs. Kansas
  • 12/17 vs. Memphis (at Madison Square Garden)
  • 1/4 vs. Richmond

  • Predicted SEC Finish: 2nd

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