Notebook: Veterans react to freshman All-SEC selection

Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — True freshman Kentucky forward Julius Randle being named preseason Southeastern Conference player of the year didn't sit well with some returning SEC veterans.

Just ask Tennessee senior guard Jordan McRae, who was named to the All-SEC first team.

“When you've played in the games, when you've played in the league, to see somebody who hasn't played a game yet be preseason player of the year, it's kind of a slap in the face,” McRae said.

Added Florida center Patric Young, who was named to the All-SEC second team: “Coming out of high school, there's all the hype and whatnot. It doesn't really mean too much. The one that counts is the one at the end of the year. This guy, he hasn't gone through any adversity or played a single minute yet. We'll see how things turn out.”

But Florida coach Billy Donovan said he thinks the preseason accolades surrounding the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Randle are justified. Donovan coached Randle when he was on Team USA's 18-under gold medal winning team in 2012 and tried to recruit him to UF.

“I love him,” Donovan said. “First he's got a really, really high basketball IQ. I think he's a pass-first high. He's very unselfish. I think the best skill he may have is passing the basketball.

“He's as quick of a 6-9, 240 guy as I've ever seen with the ball in his hands. He's got great handling and passing skills. I think his jump shot has gotten better, his low post game has gotten better, but he's an incredible player on his feet.”

Young eyes three-peat

Young has been named SEC scholar athlete of the year for each of the last two years. A telecommunications major, Young said he's shooting for three in a row.

“It's always special when a team or an organization can do something three times in a row,” Young said. 'I'm really hoping I can stay on top of my schoolwork this semester and repeat that again. If not, life goes on. As long as I gave it my best effort, that's all I can ask for.”

The Gators have had five SEC scholar athletes of the year since 2006 — Lee Humphrey (2006, 2007), Ray Shipman (2010) and Young (2012, 2013).

Not so secret scrimmage

According to ESPN college basketball reporters Andy Katz and Jeff Goodman, Florida will hold a “secret” scrimmage against Georgia Tech on Oct. 26 in Valdosta, Ga.

The NCAA has allowed teams to play preseason games against Division I teams since 2011, provided the games aren't publicized or played in front of a paid audience. In 2011, Florida played UCF in the O'Connell Center. Last season, the Gators played Division II Rollins in an unpublicized scrimmage.

Florida will host Florida Southern in its lone paid-crowd exhibition game on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the O'Dome.

Quiet on Chris Walker

A week after talking about potential UF incoming freshman power forward Chris Walker at length during UF basketball media day, Donovan was more reserved when asked about the 6-foot-10 Walker on Thursday.

When Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader reporter Jerry Tipton asked about Walker, Donovan responded: “I can't talk about him, so I apologize. But if we get to Signing Day again, I'd be happy to talk about it.'”

Walker's letter of intent was declared null and void when he was not enrolled at UF last August, which makes him a recruitable athlete. Talking about Walker, then, could potentially result in an NCAA secondary violation.

Team spokesman Denver Parler said in a text that Florida has not self-reported a violation for Donovan talking about Walker last week.

SFC transfer shines for SC

South Carolina struggled through a 14-18 record last season and went 4-14 in the SEC in Frank Martin's first season as coach.

But one of the bright spots was senior guard Brenton Williams. A transfer from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, the 5-foot-11 Williams finished second on the team at 11 points per game and scored 38 points in a game against Mississippi State.

“You don't score 38 points in an SEC game unless you figure out a way to put the ball in the basket,” Martin said. “He's grown tremendously there. We need him to keep growing defensively. He's got to utilize his speed.”

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