Florida Gators senior center Patric Young will begin his final NCAA tournament journey on Thursday against 16th-seeded Albany Great Danes.
History tells us that Young and the overall top seed Gators are a lock to survive and advance to the round of 32 this weekend. But how will the 6'9" NBA draft prospect fare?
Here, we'll break down Young's blueprint for success in the round of 64 and project his stat line when it's all said and done.
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Thanks to Florida's ultra-talented rotation and depth, the Gators can easily get past Albany even if Young struggles. But don't expect the physical center to go missing in Thursday's matchup.
The 22-year-old is a different player than in the past, according to head coach Billy Donovan, per Orlando Sentinel's Edgar Thompson.
"Is he perfect? By no stretch, neither am I. But he's worked harder than I've seen him in the past."
Plus, Young will have a significant advantage on the glass. Albany's Sam Rowley, who stands 6'6", led the Great Danes in rebounding in their first-round win over Mount St. Mary's and 6'10" John Puk is the only player in Albany's rotation who can match Young in terms of height. Still, watch for Young to out-muscle Puk for rebounds and loose balls in the paint.
He's averaging 6.1 rebounds per game, but Florida is a team that tends to rebound by committee with everyone crashing the boards.
Despite the over-matched opposition, Young doesn't project to be a major factor offensively. His season-high is 18 points and he's averaging just 11.1 points per game in 2013-14. Still, in order for Florida to turn in the performance its looking for, Young will need to maximize his touches and force Albany's bigs to stay honest. If Young can score on a few dunks and shots from in close (he averages eight field-goal attempts per game) the Great Danes will be forced to collapse their defense, opening up more wide-open looks for the Gators' shooters.
On the other end of the floor, Young, who won SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors this season, will need to be active. If he can hold up in the pick-and-roll, and block or alter shots around the rim, Albany will be forced to settle for jump shots more often than they would like, per The Gainesville Sun's Kevin Brockway:
Billy D said Patric Young is the best defender he's ever coached on pick-on-roll, ahead of both Noah and Horford.— Kevin Brockway (@gatorhoops) March 17, 2014
Young is only averaging one blocked shot per game this season but stuffed a season-high three shots in Florida's SEC Tournament title game win over Kentucky. Look for he and his 7'1" wingspan to record a pair of blocks on Thursday.
But in order for Young to excel on both ends of the floor vs. Albany and propel the Gators to the third round, he'll have to play with the same level of energy and intensity that he has game in and game out during Florida's 26-game winning streak.
If he's excited about the opportunity as opposed to bored by it, Young has the game and is surrounded by more than enough talent to get the job done.
Projected Final Stat Line: 12 points (5-of-7 FG, 2-of-3 FT), eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
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