With just one day until the Florida Gators‘ 2012-13 basketball season gets underway, the first half of OGGOA‘s series – The Countdown – takes a look at those scholarship players on the roster wearing jerseys ranging from No. 33-11.
33 – Erik Murphy (South Kingstown, RI)
6’10” 238 lbs.
Quick Bio: The first-ever player from Rhode Island to be named a Parade Magazine All-American, Murphy was a four-star commit in 2009 who has played as a backup in each of his first two years with UF. He is shooting 51.2 percent for his career, 41.8 percent from downtown and 74.3 percent from the line while averaging 3.1 rebounds per game.
2011-12 Season: Starting for the first time as a true junior, Murphy became one of the team’s best three-point shooters, hitting 42.1 percent of his 140 attempts from beyond the arc. He was fourth on the team in scoring (10.5 points) while playing 25.9 minutes per game. Murphy also hit 81.4 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe and improved his rebounding by corralling 4.5 per game.
2012-13 Outlook: Adding nearly 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, Murphy is expected to contribute as a post presence and should see more time playing center considering that Florida is not deep in the frontcourt. He has supposedly made great strides in that area and is also being counted on by the team to increase his rebounding numbers once again. “I think he’s got to do a better job at the basket for us. He cannot just be, for us, a guy that steps away from the basket and shoots it. I think he’s proven himself to be able to do that pretty consistently,” head coach Billy Donovan said a few weeks ago. “I think Erik has gotten stronger. He’s made a nice jump from last year. He’s really actually been probably a guy that was somewhat quiet that I actually see him stepping up and being a more vocal leader on our team. I think he’s wanted to take over that role and do a little bit more in that area.”
25 – DeVon Walker (Winter Haven, FL)
6’6” 191 lbs.
Quick Bio: A three-star prospect and the No. 142-ranked player in the country according to Rivals, Walker is one of four freshman joining the Gators and may very well be the most versatile of the bunch. 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 Outlook: Walker has an opportunity to play as a freshman and will be able to contribute immediately for Florida on the defensive end. Because of his ability to play so many positions, especially out on the wing, he will have the chance to earn more playing time as the season progresses though he is currently near the end of the bench.
Read about FIVE more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
24 – Casey Prather (Jackson, TN)
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.
2011-12 Season: Prather’s versatility allowed him to get on the court more for the Gators last year, and an late-season injury provided him with the opportunity to see increased minutes during the postseason. Though he averaged just 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per game for the season, Prather saw the court for 15 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament and had a breakout performance against Virginia when he scored a career-high 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed four boards in 22 minutes.
2012-13 Outlook: Consistency and turnovers have been Prather’s biggest issues and Donovan remained concerned about that this offseason. “He’s got awareness of it. I think the biggest thing for him is he puts himself in situations sometimes where he can eliminate or prevent those types of turnovers. … We’re trying to do some things offensively for him to take advantage of his size and athleticism maybe closer to the basket.” Though he is in for an increased role with the team, Prather will miss the first game of the season after suffering a concussion in each of the last two weeks. He now has three concussions on his Florida career but should be able to return to practice next week.
20 – Michael Frazier II (Tampa, FL)
6’4” 200 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. A slasher who is equally talented at attacking the basket and shooting from mid- and long-range, Frazier possesses plenty of scoring talent and is slowly refining his game by becoming a capable defender as well.
2012-13 Outlook: Frazier II made fans recognize him immediately, coming out in Florida’s exhibition game and leading the team in scoring with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He also went 5-for-6 from downtown and did all of that in just 17 minutes. Donovan tempered expectations for the young player after the game but did say he expects him to be a contributor for the Gators this season. Frazier is expected to be the first backcourt reserve off the bench but will likely begin the season by playing mostly in place of senior Kenny Boynton at the two (or alongside him when Boynton shifts to point guard).
15 – Will Yeguete (Bordeaux, France)
6’7” 240 lbs.
Quick Bio: A diamond in the rough, Yeguete joined Florida as a three-star recruit after spending two years at Florida Air Academy (the same school attended by Walter Hodge) 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.
2011-12 Season: Yeguete was told by Donovan before the season that he would be counted on to be a rebounding machine. He responded by grabbing 6.3 per game and finishing slightly behind the team leader. Donovan also said he wanted Yeguete to be careful with the ball and significantly cut down his turnovers. He averaged 0.7 per game, fewest for any player who saw at least 15 minutes of court time per game. Yeguete also averaged 4.4 points and 1.2 steals while shooting 58.1 percent from the field but an extremely poor 35.9 percent from the free throw line.
2012-13 Outlook: Gaining 18 pounds in the offseason, Yeguete has gotten stronger and more fierce, which should make him even more effective on the court. He even flashed an improved offensive game in the exhibition, scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds and going 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. Though he is not expected to be a regular starter, Yeguete should see starter-like minutes as the first frontcourt reserve off the bench. “I got to give him a lot of credit because I think that the things I pointed out to him, he really tried to address,” Donovan said.
12 – Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL)
6’4” 179 lbs.
Quick Bio: A three-star recruit who was pursued by some of the top teams in the country, Graham is a vastly underrated player who averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.2 steals per game during his junior season, proving that he was an all-around player.
2012-13 Outlook: Graham is not yet completely polished as a player though he is steadily improving and looked more than competent while on the court in the exhibition game. Though he may not be a part of the eight-man rotation, he could very well see some court time as the season progresses, especially if he continues getting better in practice.
11 – Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC)
Freshman point guard
6’0” 182 lbs.
Quick Bio: Considered one of the best players at his position nationally during his senior year, Ogbueze was a four-star recruit and top-100 player who averaged 21.9 points and 3.8 assists in his last high school season.
2012-13 Outlook: Though Ogbueze plays a position of need, Dovovan is not inclined to give him major playing time right away as he is still adjusting to the game of college basketball. “It’s a big difference between high school and college. It takes a while to get used to it, but I’m gradually getting used to it each day,” Ogbueze said recently. “The game speed is a lot faster, playing with faster and stronger guys. He is currently third on the point guard depth chart but will be second behind Boynton to start the season as junior Scottie Wilbekin is indefinitely suspended.