2009-10 Florida Gators Basketball Preview

By Adam Silverstein
November 12, 2009

Coming off two consecutive trips to the National Invitational Tournament, the Florida Gators basketball team is looking to return to the glory it experienced just a few short years ago. With guard Nick Calathes leaving to play professional basketball in Greece and an influx of talented players, head coach Billy Donovan hopes to wipe the sour taste the last two seasons have put in fans’ mouths. With that, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive presents our 2009-10 Florida Gators Basketball Preview.

STARTING FIVE:

PG Erving Walker – sophomore, 5’8”, 171 lbs.
2008 STATS: 10.1 PPG – 2.4 APG – .434 FG% – .419 3P% – 1.5 RPG – 23.1 MPG
A spark plug known more for his shooting and penetrating than passing, Walker was a pleasant surprise for the Gators in 2008. Starting the season as the team’s sixth man, he moved into the starting lineup at year’s end, earning a reputation as a sharp-shooter who could be trusted to put the ball in the hoop when the game was on the line. Walker was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team and led Florida in three-point percentage (.419). His breakout performance came against the Auburn Tigers, when he hit two late three pointers to help send the Gators to a 68-65 win. Walker must improve his ball handling, court vision and willingness to dish the ball in order to allow Boynton to move around and not be forced to play point.

G Kenny Boynton – freshman, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
2008 STATS (HS): 33 PPG – .58 FG%
Boynton is the pride of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class, a consensus five-star guard who was ranked No. 9 overall on ESPN’s Top-100 list, No. 12 by Rivals and No. 15 by Scout. He is the 12th McDonald’s All-American signed by Donovan and the third-leading scorer in the history of Florida high school basketball. Quick both with and without the ball, Boynton is highly competitive and athletic with the ability to play either backcourt position. He can get his shot off at will, whether it be a quick pull up jumper, deep three-pointer, floater down the lane or penetrating layup. Boynton is also a tough defender who is strong with quick feet laterally. In his two games so far in the Orange and Blue, Boynton has averaged 23.5 points in 25.5 minutes.

The preview is a LOT longer than this. Read the rest after the jump…

F Dan Werner – senior, 6’8”, 230 lbs.
2008 STATS: 8.9 PPG – 2.3 APG – .426 FG% – .357 3P% – 4.9 RPG – 28.4 MPG
Werner is the only remaining member of Florida’s 2007 National Championship team. Joining UF as a freshman that season, Werner watched as the Gators won with him on the bench and made two consecutive NITs with him as a starter. While he has started 71 of 72 games the last two seasons, Werner mentioned early in the fall that his goal is to return to March Mardness this year. He can play both the small and power forward positions and can stretch defenses on the perimeter; however, he is wholly inconsistent especially when the game is close. Big and deceptively strong, Werner is strong off the boards defensively but stays on the outside on offense much to the chagrin of Gators fans.

F Alex Tyus – junior, 6’8”, 220 lbs.
2008 STATS: 12.5 PPG – 0.7 APG – .591 FG% – .685 FT% – 6.2 RPG – 26.2 MPG
The Gators’ most experienced true frontcourt player, Tyus is a bit of an enigma. After the 2008 season, he told Donovan and anyone who would listen that he wanted to transfer but was eventually convinced to stay and play out his career at Florida. Athletic and active on the court, Tyus can go on hot streaks where he will rebound and score effectively; however, he will also have games where he struggles with his turnaround jumper, hook shot and getting in front of bigger and stronger players for rebounds. Tyus is at his best when crashing the offensive glass.

C Vernon Macklin – redshirt junior transfer, 6’10”, 240 lbs.
2008 STATS: Transfer – Did not play.
2007 STATS: 3.4 PPG – 0.6 APG – .598 FG% – .250 FT% – 2.1 RPG – 12.8 MPG
A McDonald’s and Parade All-American coming out of high school, Macklin committed to Georgetown University and played there sparingly for two seasons. Transferring to the Gators, Macklin was forced to redshirt last year per NCAA policy. Talented, athletic and, well, huge, Macklin is a big presence in the paint and can also run the floor in transition – an important quality for a center at Florida. While he has looked unimpressive in two preseason games, Macklin is rusty and performing better in practice, according to Donovan. If he is able to contribute positively throughout the season, his size and strength coupled with Boynton’s athleticism and scoring could be exactly what the Gators need to get over the hump.

NEXT FIVE:

G/F Ray Shipman – sophomore, 6’5”, 210 lbs.
2008 STATS: 3.8 PPG – 0.5 APG – .590 FG% – .727 FT% – 2.1 RPG – 13.2 MPG
Shipman is Florida’s most versatile player, one who can play both guard and forward. He can defend the perimeter and excels on plays in transition when he can capitalize on his athletic ability. Named the state of Florida’s “Mr. Basketball” as well as the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2008, Shipman has already excelled in exhibition action in 2009, putting up 16 points in 21 minutes against Webber International.

F Chandler Parsons – junior, 6’9”, 215 lbs.
2008 STATS: 9.2 PPG – 1.8 APG – .460 FG% – .301 3P% – 5.7 PRG – 26.0 MPG
A starter in 2008, Parsons came to Florida with high school teammate Calathes and is a swingman who won SEC All-Freshman honors in 2007-08. He took home the Orange Bowl Classic MVP award and scored in double digits in 14 games including posting a career-high 27 points against the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road. Solid in transition, he can shoot the three and get up and down the court. Parsons must play big and become a presence in the paint as he, like Werner, has a tendency to stay outside.

C Kenny Kadji – sophomore, 6’10”, 248 lbs.
2008 STATS: 4.4 PPG – .484 FG% – .511 FT% – 2.7 RPG – 0.7 BPG – 12.5 MPG
The largest player on the Gators, Kadji played well in limited time in 2008, showing the potential to become one of the SEC’s most dominant big men. However, he is not there yet. While his size, shot-blocking ability, soft touch and presence in the paint are important, he must become more of an all-around player before he can replace Macklin in the starting frontcourt.

F Erik Murphy – freshman, 6’9”, 217 lbs.
2008 STATS (HS): 22 PPG – 10 RPG
Florida’s only other original 2009 commitment, Murphy is a consensus four-star recruit who was listed as the No. 38 overall player on the ESPN Top-100 list and the No. 12 forward by Scout. Athletic with a high basketball IQ, he averaged a double-double his senior season of high school and is the first-ever player from the state of Rhode Island to be named a Parade Magazine All-American. Murphy’s talent could earn him additional playing time as the season goes on, but he is near the end of the bench to start.

G Rod Tishman – freshman, 6’5”, 182 lbs.
2008 STATS: (European U-18 Championships): 18.3 PPG – 4 RPG
Seeking a point guard to add to his 2009 recruiting class, Donovan found Tishman playing for Maccabi Teddy Tel Aviv in Israel. Tishman led his country in the European Under-18 Championships and comes to Florida with an abundance of international experience. Tishman is not expected to be much of an impact player in 2009-10 and is basically the last player on the bench.

SCHEDULE:

Providing his team with a relatively easy schedule the last two seasons, Donovan has beefed up the Gators opponents (and strength of schedule) this year. Among others, Florida will face a tougher out of conference lineup including the Florida State Seminoles, No. 2 Michigan State Spartans, Syracuse Orange, N.C. State Wolfpack and Xavier Musketeers. In conference, the Gators have to fend for themselves against the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats and No. 10 Tennessee Volunteers. No one can accuse Donovan of providing his team with a light schedule this season. Florida will be taking part in three special events during the season, competing in the Legends Classic (Atlantic City, NJ) on Nov. 27 when it will reunite with Michigan State for the first time since the 2001 NCAA Championship game, taking on Syracuse in the SEC/Big East Invitational (Tampa, FL) on Dec. 10 and squaring off against the Richmond Spiders on Dec. 19 in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic (Sunrise, FL).

OUTLOOK:

Still a relatively young and inexperienced team, the Gators will be starting two brand new players (Boynton, Macklin) and a sophomore point guard who spent most of 2008 as a backup (Walker). The schedule is tougher, the SEC has improved and most experts predict that Florida will finish fourth or fifth in the six-team Eastern Division. However, Donovan is optimistic and believes the team has finally gelled. While some believe losing Calathes is a negative, OGGOA is of the opinion that his absence will actually strengthen the team, allowing new (more mature) leaders to emerge. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi agrees, slating the Gators as a No. 9 seed in his first bracketology of the 2009-10 season. OGGOA’s official prediction: 23-8 in the regular season.

One Comment

  1. ReptilesRule says:

    Good looking crew. Will they surprise?? Chemistry will have everything to do with it.

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