A position of relative weakness for men’s basketball over the last two seasons has suddenly become one of immense strength as the Florida Gators officially announced on Monday that center Patric Young will return to school for his senior season.
“I have the chance to finish my degree and play another season for Coach [Billy] Donovan with great teammates and friends at a place I love,” said Young in a school release. “These first three years have gone by in a flash, and I can’t believe it is my senior year already. I have gotten better as a player and better as a man at the University of Florida. I believe God has my future in his hands, so all I am worried about now is getting better this summer and making it the hardest I have trained in my life.”
After spending his first year with the Gators as a reserve, Young has served as Florida’s starting center over the last two seasons, averaging 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game in each campaign. Donovan has chided Young for his consistency on occasion in order to get the absoulte most out of him on a game-to-game basis but the two have a great player-coach relationship.
“We’re excited that Patric will continue with us for his senior season,” said Donovan in the school release. “This was Patric’s decision to make, and he ultimately had to do what he felt was best for himself and his future.”
Young likely would have been a second-round pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft had he declared and left school early.
Though stretch-four Erik Murphy (6’10″, 238 lbs.) had started alongside him, Young (6’9”, 249 lbs.) has been the Gators’ true big man and the only player on the team who could legitimately play center for an entire game.
That will not be the case next season as, with Young returning, Florida will boast arguably the best frontcourt in the nation.
Joining Young, the two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, will be junior transfer Damontre Harris (6’10”, 228 lbs.) and five-star freshman Chris Walker (6’9”, 220 lbs.). Forwards Will Yeguete (6’7” 240 lbs.) and Casey Prather (6’6”, 208 lbs.) will both return for their senior seasons, and Florida will finally get to see sophomore transfer Dorian Finney-Smith (6’8”, 205 lbs.) in action.
The Gators will be able to rotate at least six players in their three frontcourt positions but will need to develop the backcourt after losing starting guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario to graduation. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin will be the only other returning member of Florida’s starting five aside from Young.
Photo Credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press