The Countdown: Florida basketball (42-12)

By Adam Silverstein
November 7, 2013

With just one day until the Florida Gators‘ 2013-14 basketball season gets underway, the first half of OGGOA‘s series – The Countdown – takes a look at those players on the roster wearing jerseys ranging from No. 42-12.

42 – Billy Donovan (Gainesville, FL)
Redshirt junior guard
6’2” 195 lbs.

Quick Bio: The son of Florida’s head coach, Donovan grew up in Gainesville but started his college playing career in Washington, D.C. with Catholic University. After deciding to go into coaching rather than politics, Donovan transferred to UF to play and learn the game under his father’s watchful eye. He was second at Catholic in assists in 2011-12 with 49 and averaged 5.9 points per game while starting 19 contests.

2012-13 Season: Donovan was forced to redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules.

2013-14 Outlook: One of two walk-ons officially on the roster, Donovan will see the least playing time out of anyone on the team over the course of the season but could play a role for the Gators early on as a back-up point guard. “I think it’s a really good opportunity but then again I’m just here to help the team out so whatever they need me to do, I’ll do,” he said. “I feel really blessed and honored to be putting this jersey on.”

30 – Jacob Kurtz (Oviedo, FL)
Junior forward
6’6” 210 lbs.

Quick Bio: Starting out as a locker room assistant, Kurtz worked his way up to team manager, started working as a scout team member and later joined the program as a walk-on in 2011-12. He saw four games of action that season but did not become a well-known name among Florida fans until his sophomore season.

2012-13 Season: With the Gators taking down opponents by large margins, Kurtz saw action in 20 games, totaling 12 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes of action. He quickly became a fan favorite both because his presence on the court indicated Florida was comfortably ahead and due to the fact that he gave tremendous effort when he stepped on the court.

2013-14 Outlook: Due to injuries and the fact that he has proven to have a high basketball IQ, Kurtz may actually start Florida’s season opener on Friday and see some legitimate court time – at least early in the season. Once the Gators get their full complement of scholarship players back in the fold, Kurtz will likely be limited to a few minutes a game, if any. “It’s a dream come true,” he explained. “You get to play basketball every day at the University of Florida, one of the best universities in the country, play for the best coach in the country in Coach Donovan, play with the best players. It’s a dream come true. I love it.”

Read about FIVE more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!

25 – DeVon Walker (Winter Haven, FL)
Sophomore guard/forward
6’6” 195 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star prospect and the No. 142-ranked player in the country according to Rivals, Walker is one of three sophomores on the Gators’ roster and may be the most versatile of his classmates. He averaged 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists during his senior year at Winter Haven High School and was named Player of the Year.

2012-13 Season: Walker played in 25 games as a true freshman but finished the season with just 20 points and 17 rebounds in 42 minutes. He initially decided to transfer out of Florida due to frustration but quickly changed his mind and decided to return to UF.

2013-14 Outlook: Though he was resigned to redshirting as a sophomore, developing for a year as the Gators were unlikely to need him to play any minutes due to their talent-laden roster, Walker recently agreed to skip that process and take the court this season. Donovan said before Florida’s exhibition game that Walker had developed well – both physically and mentally – and would be able to see some time if he wished to have his redshirt pulled. “I made sure [getting stronger] was a priority every day because last year the [few] times I did get in the game, sometimes I was physically dominated,” Walker admitted. “I felt like I lacked it so every day I was in the weight room and I brought my weight up.”

24 – Casey Prather (Jackson, TN)
Sophomore guard/forward
6’6” 208 lbs.

Quick Bio: A highly recruited swingman and four-star player coming out of high school, Prather saw 6.7 minutes of action per game as a freshman but served mostly as a roleplayer during the season, averaging 1.2 points and 1.1 rebounds per appearance. He wound up starting two games due to an injury to Chandler Parsons injury and scored double-digits once – on 5-of-8 shooting against North Carolina A&T. His versatility allowed Prather to get on the court more for the Gators in 2012-13, and he really shined in the postseason when he averaged 15 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament. Prather broke out against Virginia that year when he scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed four boards in 22 minutes.

2012-13 Season: Prather improved exponentially during his junior year. Though he only pulled down 6.2 points and 3.7 boards on average, he accumulated those numbers in just 17.1 minutes per game. Prather’s athleticism made a difference on both ends of the court, and he was often seen throwing down highlight-making, crowd-rousing dunks.

2013-14 Outlook: Florida needs even more for Prather in his final season. Donovan expects him to become a more efficient scorer, take on more of a team leadership role and play lock down defense. “I’ve just been working on my body, my focus, and I’m trying to get better at each aspect, trying to be more of a team player, trying to help all the young guys get going to be ready for the season,” he said. Prather plans to play “aggressive, very loose” and hopes to pick up where he left off last year.

20 – Michael Frazier II (Tampa, FL)
Freshman guard
6’4” 199 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star recruit who was the first player to commit to the Gators as part of their 2012 signing class, Frazier II led the talented Montverde Academy team with 17 points and eight rebounds during his senior season. He possesses plenty of scoring talent and is in the process of refining his game by becoming a capable defender as well.

2012-13 Season: The first backcourt reserve off the bench, Frazier played in 36 games as a true freshman and made an immediate impact by shooting 46.8 percent from downtown. He averaged 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18 minutes per game with 52 of his 62 made baskets coming from three-point land.

2013-14 Outlook: Frazier steps into a starting role in his second season at Florida, but he will not be able to do so until he recovers from mononucleosis. His return date is currently unknown, but Frazier will first have to improve his conditioning before he is capable of playing major minutes in games. When he is eventually cleared, Frazier is expected to pick up where he left off from the perimeter while hopefully attacking the hope and becoming a more versatile scorer. “I feel like my game got a lot better. The team is moving along pretty well, so overall it was a really good summer,” he said. There is a chance he suits up in the season opener on Friday.

15 – Will Yeguete (Bordeaux, France)
Senior forward
6’8” 230 lbs.

Quick Bio: A diamond in the rough, Yeguete joined Florida after spending two years at Florida Air Academy and averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds his senior season. Prior to attending school in the United States, Yeguete lived in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and France. As a freshman, he averaged 1.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game and proved that he could be a spark off the bench for the Gators who brought great effort off the glass and on defense. Yeguete grabbed 6.3 boards per game as a sophomore and cut down his turnovers significantly but broke his foot against Auburn and missed the final nine games of the season. UF went 4-5 without him.

2012-13 Season: Yeguete continued to be a high-effort player for Florida, averaging 5.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in 31 appearances. Unfortunately, as the season went on, the discomfort Yeguete felt in his knee required arthroscopic surgery, which he had in February so he could return to the team for the postseason. His knee swelled up in the NCAAA Tournament, and he had a scheduled arthroscopic debridement surgery in May to clean up and repair the joint.

2013-14 Outlook: Still rehabilitating following his latest procedure, which sidelined him until September, Yeguete is slowly but surely working his way back onto the court. The Gators are purposely being cautious with him and chances are he will be on a minutes restriction early in the season. However, no matter how you slice it, Florida is simply a better, more energetic team – especially defensively – with Yeguete on the court. He has a positive mindset entering the season and believes the Gators can reach the Final Four. “[We need to] be more focused and together, especially when it starts getting tough. Sometimes I feel like we fell short because we didn’t stay connected as well when it got touch,” he said. “We have a different team, obviously. We have a lot of players that, if healthy, can all play different roles. Hopefully everybody will find their roles because it can make us more productive.”

12 – Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL)
Freshman guard
6’4” 179 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit who was pursued by some of the top teams in the country, Graham averaged 15.4 points per game and proved that he can be a versatile and productive player.

2012-13 Season: Graham saw limited minutes as a true freshman at the back of the bench and did not do much when he was in the game, totaling 11 points, four rebounds and five assists in 81 minutes.

2013-14 Outlook: Though he enters the season dealing with an ankle injury that has limited him as of late, Graham will be expected to play a reserve role right out of the gate because the Gators’ roster is limited due to injuries and suspensions. Once some of the veteran – and more talented – players regain their health and/or status with the team, his minutes will likely be limited once again. “I’m looking forward to just getting a chance to play. I just want to show the coaches that I can pretty much do anything I want,” he said. “I’ve worked on my shooting, dribbling, just learning the game a little better.”

One Comment

  1. Michael Jones says:

    Adam, dude, seriously, this is frigging awesome!! Really appreciate all of the hard work it takes to put together a piece like this. Gets me EVEN MORE fired-up for the start of basketball season than I already was. . gets us Gator fans closer to the team knowing more about our players. Love all the detail!! Thanks, man!!

    GO GATORS!!!!!

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