Early concerns for Florida
Even at full strength, the Gators might not match their recent success
A little over a month ago I offered a preview of Florida's 2013-14 season, saying that the team's "season rests on the assumption that someone will emerge as a capable featured scorer to complement [Patric] Young." I still stand by that assessment, but as the Gators prepare for a sizable road test at Connecticut (Monday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2), I'll admit I had little if any inkling that the capable featured scorer would turn out to be Casey Prather.
If anything, Young is now the complement to Prather, not the other way around. After seven games, Prather is by far Florida's leading scorer, averaging 19 points a game. It's true that the 6-foot-6 senior has emerged at a moment when Billy Donovan's roster is depleted (as we'll explore), but at this point, I'm not certain Prather is going to pull in his horns anytime soon -- or that he should. In Florida's 67-66 squeaker of a home win over Florida State, he scored 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Prather has even emerged as something of a point forward, totaling 17 assists over the course of his 336 possessions.
Prather's development has been one piece of welcome news in a season that otherwise has been marked by uncertainty and shuffling lineups. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill started the first four games of the season while Scottie Wilbekin served a suspension. Then Hill suffered a high ankle spain, and has missed the past three games. Wilbekin has now returned, but starter DeVon Walker is unavailable because of a sprained foot.
To read John Gasaway's full analysis on why this season's Gators will face significant questions, sign up for Insider today.
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Jay Bilas ranks the top 68 teams in college basketball, with Florida at No. 1.