UF's Young a key player within community

Florida center Patric Young repeated as the SEC men's basketball scholar athlete of the year this season and also likes to give back to the community.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/File
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.


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Who: No. 3 seed Florida vs. No. 14 seed Northwestern State
When: Friday, 7:27 p.m.
Where: Austin, Texas
TV/Radio: truTV/103.7 FM

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You may know Patric Young as the hulking, 6-foot-9, 247-pound Florida center, capable of flying through the lane to grab rebounds or block shots. What you may not know about Young is that he is an exceptional student who kept his own blog over the summer and melts at the sight of sick children. The Renaissance big man will be a focal point for the Gators heading forward in the NCAA Tournament. Florida fans are clamoring for Young to hit the boards, but what they don't know is how hard he hits the books. Young earned his second straight Southeastern Conference men's basketball scholar athlete of the year honor last week. He holds a 3.38 grade point average in telecommunications.

“It's pretty cool, to win that again,” Young said. “My freshman year I was also on the academic honor roll. My mom was a teacher. Both my parents, they instilled good values as far as being focused on academics, on school and in my studies.” Young tweeted over the summer that it's a goal of his to someday build a school for underprivileged children. He also was recently named to the SEC community service team. In Gainesville, he goes to area elementary schools to read to children and visits children at Shands Hospital. “Parents that have children that are in the hospital at a young age, it's really a tough thing, especially kids that have possibly terminal illnesses,” Young said. “Being able to go put a smile on a kid's face, to try to lighten their day up. Hearing that news that your child may be terminally ill is really tough. Just to be able to brighten up their day is just something I really take delight in doing.” For Young, going to hospitals or on outreach trips to Africa is part of a calling that comes with being a scholarship athlete on a Top-25 basketball program. As part of a delegation for Athletes in Action last summer, Young provided supplies and coached basketball to needy children in the war-torn Ivory Coast. “I'm not doing it for recognition,” Young said. “I've been blessed and given so many things, I should want to give back.” Florida senior forward Erik Murphy said he's noticed the softer, giving side of Young. “He looks big and intimidating, but he's a really nice person at heart,” Murphy said. “He does a lot with the community. He's caring. He's goofy, too. He's a big jokester that's always messing around. He's just a great guy.” Florida coach Billy Donovan said Young's off-court efforts don't go unnoticed in the program. “Sometimes it's easy to encapsule someone based on what you see in a two-hour game,” Donovan said. “I think what people don't realize is how strong Patric is spiritually. He's heavily involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He's just a great kid who wants to work hard to improve.” That's not to say that Young has been perfect to coach in his three-year UF career. Earlier this season, Donovan benched Young for a big non-conference matchup with Marquette because he was pouty and creating distractions in practice. Young responded positively with 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. “Like all great players, Patric can have a stubborn streak,” Donovan said. “But I think, like all of our players, if you can show him through film the things that he needs to work on to get better, he responds positively to that and takes it to heart.” Young said he feels like he's matured to accept constructive criticism in his three years at UF. When Donovan called him out for lack of effort on the boards last week, Young responded by averaging 6.1 rebounds in three SEC Tournament games. “I know he's not doing it out of bad intentions,” Young said. “He wants me to get better, he wants me to achieve all my dreams and goals. He wants me to go to the NBA and play and be an All-Star and achieve my goals. So I know when he's getting on me, it's for a good reason.” On Monday, Donovan said he felt like Young passed the ball out of the post too much in the Ole Miss loss. Young only took three shot attempts against the Rebels, making one. Free-throw shooting also continues to be a struggle. Young made just 1 of 4 to drop to 49.6 percent (59 of 119) for the season. With no margin for error in the NCAA Tournament, Young said he will keep working on his shortcomings in practice while maintaining a positive attitude. “I couldn't have imagined myself being where I am right now since my freshman year. (I was) so immature and such a quick-temper guy,” Young said. “Now I'm so much more mature. That's just the main word to sum up everything, just maturity.” Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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