Florida Gators Go from a Bare Cupboard to an Embarrassment of Riches

Jim FolsomContributorApril 5, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 26:  Kenny Boynton #1 of the Florida Gators dunks on the Butler Bulldogs during the Southeast regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

What a difference a year makes. Last year, the Florida Gators back court was so thin they had a local high school kid seize an opportunity to go to summer school and graduate in time for this season to start so he could play for the Gators basketball team.

This kid, Scottie Wilbekin, was not even playing top high school competition. He was playing for and against small private church schools. Next thing you know, he's playing big time college basketball. And not sitting on the end of the bench either, but getting a lot of minutes.

Fast-forward one year: Florida's back court is so stocked going into next season, that you might see the two leading scorers from this season, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, struggling to keep their starting positions.

Next year, Florida's back court will include Mike Rosario, a transfer from Rutgers who averaged 16 points per game in the Big East in '09-'10. It will also include the National High School Player of the Year in Brad Beal. Wilbekin is surely going to get even better now that he is actually college aged.

Plus, the Gators have two football recruits coming in who were also very highly recruited basketball players in high school—Pop Saunders and Jacoby Brissett. Both have said they want to play both sports. Both may end up being full time hoops players.

Brissett was recruited as a QB. He is a QB that would most likely have been better suited for Urban Meyer's spread offense than Charlie Weiss' pro style offense. Plus, the Gators have Jeff Driskel coming in as a freshman QB this year. This guy has NFL written all over him.

So how will Coach Billy Donovan juggle all this talent? It's a nice problem to have.

First, redshirt the two football guys, save them for when Walker graduates and Beal enters the draft. Then with the five guards you have this year, run a lot of three guard line-ups out there. Play an up tempo style and run teams ragged. Utilize the three point shots in transition and a lot of pressing.

Guys like Patric Young, Casey Prather and Wil Yeguette should thrive in this style of play, as they are very quick and athletic types.

When you need to go big, Eric Murphy and Cody Larson come in to play with Young on the front line.

With all this talent next year, this Gator team should be a legitimate Final Four contender. Much like the 2000 team, Donovan will have a very deep bench and a team built on quickness.

If there is a guy who knows how to get the most out of a team like this, it is Billy Donovan.