Fans of the Florida Gators are very happy that they will finally have basketball to talk about in less than a week given the offseason troubles around the program.
Head coach Billy Donovan has suspended three players and has two stars on the verge of a full return after major surgeries in the offseason.
While it may not be the ideal situation to begin the season with, the Gators will be able to recover and have plenty of success in Gainesville during the 2013-14 campaign.
Here is a complete look at the 2013-14 edition of Billy Donovan's Gators.
Eli Carter in action for Rutgers.
Eli Carter: Eli Carter is another player who has followed the recent trend of transferring from Rutgers to Florida.
Carter, who is recovering from a broken leg, followed in the footsteps of the now-departed Mike Rosario by making the move from New Brunswick to Gainesville.
Once fully fit, Carter should be a major contributor to the Gators offense, but that may take until December to happen.
Kasey Hill: As the lone freshman on the roster this season, Kasey Hill is expected to pack a big-time punch at the point guard position.
With Kenny Boynton gone, the Gators need someone to fill the void at the point, and the McDonald's All-American from Montverde Academy will be the player to do so.
Will Yeguete: After a long road back from knee surgery, Will Yeguete will be able to make an impact on the Gators in the latter stages of the season once he is 100 percent.
Patric Young: With Patric Young back for his senior season, the Gators are expected to receive a strong final season from the 6'9" center.
Young averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his junior season in Gainesville.
For the Gators to contend nationally, and against Kentucky in the SEC, Young will have to take his game to the next level this season.
Casey Prather: Casey Prather is another one of the many experienced seniors on the Gators roster.
The 6'6" forward can help the Gators out in almost every facet of the game.
Prather is a strong rebounder who is not afraid to get physical, but he can also sink plenty of shots when called upon.
Here is a link to the complete Florida roster listed below.
|2||Damontre Harris||F/C||RS Jr.|
|10||Dorian Finney-Smith||F||RS Soph.|
|20||Michael Frazier II||G||Soph.|
|42||Billy Donovan||G||RS Jr.|
Starting Five: Kasey Hill; Eli Carter; Will Yeguete; Casey Prather; Patric Young
Key Contributors off of the Bench: Jacob Kurtz; DeVon Walker; Dillon Graham
*Note: Scottie Wilbekin, Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris are currently suspended indefinitely from the team.
Will Yeguete: Coming off of knee surgery, Yeguete will need some time to get back in game shape but once he does, he could be the biggest X-factor that the Gators possess.
Yeguete is the best defender that Florida has, and if he can deliver some stellar performances on that end of the court, it will make the likes of Young and Prather better.
Kasey Hill: Hill's name may not be expected to be here, but with Wilbekin suspended, the youngster will have to step up into the vacant point guard position.
If Hill can thrive at the point in Wilbekin's absence, it will give the Gators another major weapon in the backcourt if and when the senior returns.
Patric Young: One of the main reasons why the Gators will be able to dominate the paint this season will be Young.
Young does need to make a few minor improvements to his game, but if he can use his size to his advantage, Donovan will be singing his praises on numerous occasions.
Ideally, the Gators will have a healthy Carter and Yeguete suffer no injury setbacks and see Wilbekin, Finney-Smith and Harris eligible at some point in the season.
If that happens, the Gators could hand Kentucky a challenge for the SEC title, but they will need everything to go right during conference play, including a win in prime time on February 15 at Rupp Arena.
In the worst-case scenario for the 2013-14 Gators, Yeguete does not recover from his injury in the way they hoped he would and Wilbekin, the man who was supposed to man the point, is ineligible for most of the season.
Those two players carry an immense amount of experience and without them, the Gators do show some vulnerabilities in the depth department.
2013-14 Prediction: 23-8 (14-4 SEC)
Not having a fully fit team headed into the second game of the season at Wisconsin will hurt the Gators' chances of cruising through nonconference play.
The Gators should be able to take advantage of the crowd at the O'Connell Center and take down Florida State and Kansas in Gainesville.
However, it is the road trip to UConn and two neutral-site games against Memphis and Fresno State that will give Billy Donovan's side the biggest test after the venture to Madison in November.
As for conference play, the Gators should split with Kentucky, and they will be able to record 14 wins in the conference, which in any other year would be close to enough to win the conference title.
The only problem with that is that Kentucky is expected to be historically good this season, and stripping them of the SEC title will be quite the difficult task, especially if the Gators are not at full strength.
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