Much has been made during the offseason about Florida’s depth in the backcourt.
SI.com’s Luke Winn rated UF’s backcourt second in the country, behind only Duke. With McDonald’s All-American Bradley Beal and Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario joining Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Scottie Wilbekin, Florida will have enough versatility and depth at both guard spots to match up with most teams in the country.
But Florida will face a bigger challenge up front replacing last year’s all-senior frontline of Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. Parsons and Macklin were NBA second-round draft picks. Tyus is playing overseas in Israel.
What’s left up front for Florida is a mixed bag. There are physical players who had issues scoring, scorers who had issues being physical and others who remain unproven for extended minutes.
“It’s interesting,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think those guys have worked hard but they are all stepping into totally different roles.”
Sophomore center Patric Young projects to step into one of the starting spots. At 247 pounds, Young proved he was physically ready enough to rebound and defend at the SEC level. But Florida will likely need more scoring from the former McDonald’s All-American from Jacksonville.
“Patric came off the bench last year and certainly he’s going to be a key component to our team,” Donovan said.
Erik Murphy could step into another role. Murphy had issues defensively in Southeastern Conference games last season, but showed he could score both inside and stepping away from the basket. Murphy averaged 4.3 points per game last season and shot 40 percent from 3-point range
“Erik, I thought, last year got off to a pretty decent start then he sprained his ankle was out for a little while, didn’t give us a lot really depth wise,” Donovan said.
The unknowns include 6-9, 231-pound Cody Larson, who is coming off a redshirt season, and true freshman forward Walter Pitchford V (6-10, 221 pounds). Forward Will Yeguete had a strong summer playing for the French 19-under national team and showed flashes of exceptional rebounding ability last season. Yeguete had 15 rebounds in his second career game against North Carolina A&T.
“I think Will, the experience, getting the playing time was good for him. I think he’s got to continue to develop and grow,” Donovan said.
Donovan also said sophomore forward Casey Prather has had a “really, really good” preseason. The 6-foot-6 Prather is a swingman capable of playing both in the backcourt and up front.
“The one thing that was great with those guys last year is they understood with Vernon and Chandler and Alex that they had to learn, they had to get better and contribute however they could contribute and I thought their attitude was great,” Donovan said. “How they step into more of a primarily role will be interesting to see.”