Ok, I get it. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why is anyone writing about UF players? We’re going to end up with a top 6 pick, so let’s talk about Nerlens Noel’s injury or Shabazz vs Otto.” Well suck it up, because the Gators are going to make a deep tournament run and I want you to know who to keep an eye on during March Madness.
But before I get into the individual scouting reports, I have some quick thoughts on the UF-UK game:
• While I was impressed with Patric Young’s performance against Noel, I wasn’t particularly shocked. Obviously his biggest strength is, well, his strength, and when he can overpower his defender to get great post position, he’s deadly. Young had a massive strength advantage against Noel and took advantage. If you look back at last year’s games against UK, he was successful doing the same thing to Anthony Davis. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to do that nearly as much in the pros.
• Speaking of Noel, I was really impressed with his defense. His hands were active and lightning-fast. He’ll need to put on 25-30 pounds, but has the potential to be make many All-NBA Defensive Teams. His offense is RAW- possibly even worse than Tristan’s at Texas. If he can show the same offensive growth as the 2011 #4 pick, he’s a perennial All-Star.
• In my opinion, TT>Derrick Williams>Terrence Jones>Alex Poythress. At least Williams and Jones were combo forwards that dominated in college. Poythress was invisible for large stretches of the game (and the season). Archie Goodwin could be a decent pro, but the Cavs don’t need him. We already have Dion and could always draft McLemore or Muhammad.
Let’s start off with the man in the middle, Patric Young. While I believe that anything short of a championship will bring him back for his senior season, he has the highest ceiling of anyone on the team. Young has an NBA ready body and the athleticism to guard 4s and undersized 5s at the next level. Patric’s rebounding numbers are similar to every Cavs big man, awesome offensively but needs improvement defensively. His already strong defense has definitely improved this year. Young is playing under control on defense and it shows with his blocks doubling while picking up fewer fouls. He works hard in the post and gets great position down low. Unfortunately, he only shoots over his left shoulder and can’t do anything with his left hand.
One thing that you won’t see in a game is Patric taking a jump shot. To play in the NBA, he’ll need a reliable 15 foot jumper, but he’s never forced to take that shot in college. Just based on watching warmups the last two years, this has been a noticeable improvement in his game. Last year, he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn; now he’s at least respectable. He could fill a role as an active big man off the bench and could be a great bargain if he improves offensively.
Up next we have Erik Murphy. He’s had some issues in the past few years (possible transfer and an embarrassing arrest) so I’ve been very critical of him. However, if Murphy has matured like everyone claims, he could be a big pickup for a team choosing in the second round. Offensively, he’s shown he can get buckets. He posts up and scores with a small arsenal of moves. His pick-and-pop game with Kenny Boynton or Scottie Wilbekin is beautiful. He’s THE best three-point shooting big man in the country, bar none. However, Murphy has some large holes in his game that prevent him from being a 1st round pick. His athleticism will be average at best in the NBA, and he’ll need improve his rebounding numbers. Those two factors hamper his effectiveness on defense and lower his ceiling significantly. That being said, John Hollinger will probably love him as I see Murphy as a super-Jon Leuer. As long as he doesn’t have to guard athletic 4s, Murphy could really open up the floor for Kyrie and Dion and help pad everyone’s assist numbers. I would like to take a flyer on him. And if he turns into a bust, we can always trade him for a couple 1st round picks and Marc Gasol.
Kenny Boynton is a four-year starter at shooting guard for the Gators and will most likely finish 1st or 2nd on the school’s all-time scoring list. In keeping with the Cavs-centric comparisons, he’s a less consistent, less injury-prone Boobie Gibson. Boynton has point guard size at 6’2” but the skill set of a shooting guard. His defense has always been strong and has plenty of three-point range. However, his shooting is very streaky and can flip between hot and cold overnight. His three-point percentages have swung wildly from .206 in December to .440 in January. He will be a star in the D-League or overseas but I can’t see him being anything more than a deep bench player in the NBA.
My sleeper pick goes to Scottie Wilbekin. Scottie spearheads Florida’s top 5 defense and was a big reason why Phil Pressey had 10 turnovers in their game against Missouri. His turnovers are too high and could use some work on his midrange game, but keep an eye out for him next year. He’s a 19 year old junior and another year of school could turn him into a great backup for Kyrie.
Unfortunately, there’s no consensus lottery pick like Bradley Beal on this year’s team, but several players with the potential to make an impact in the NBA. Now that you’ve been enlightened on the most enigmatic team in college basketball, let the speculation begin.