Scottie Wilbekin wasn’t fazed last offseason when he knew Mike Rosario and Bradley Beal would be added to the mix in a crowded UF backcourt.
With minutes harder to come by, the 18-year-old sophomore point guard has accepted his role.
“You can’t really get mad at that because every person on the team is a good player,” Wilbekin said. “So you just have to be in the game and work your hardest.”
Wilbekin, though, has seen his role increase of late due to Rosario’s injury woes. Rosario has missed three of Florida’s last five games with a back injury and now, a sprained ankle.
Wilbekin has played 19 minutes in all three games that Rosario has missed with positive results. He had three assists in 19 minutes against UAB, and was a defensive catalyst in UF’s 82-64 win over rival Florida State.
In 14.3 minutes per game, Wilbekin is averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 assists per game. He doesn’t provide the same offensive production as Rosario, but he’s remained steady with the ball, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 28 to 9. Wilbekin also has posted 14 steals in limited action.
“It’s more of a role of not knowing how much I am going to play in games,” Wilbekin said. “It’s based on how other players are playing but( it’s) mostly a defensive role like it was last year.”
— Florida coach Billy Donovan said he’s not overly concerned with Bradley Beal’s recent slump. Beal is 10 for his last 35 from the floor and 1 for his last 9 from 3-point range. Beal was 2 for 15 from the floor in UF’s last game against UAB. “There’s a different level of talent that he’s dealing with right now,” Donovan said. “And I really think for him, him going through what he went through last game and what he went through from Rutgers, he has to go through that in order to take the next step as a player, to understand the speed and pace of the game, to understand he’s got to play out of his comfort zone a little bit.” Donovan brought up Mike Miller’s inconsistency as a freshman at UF as an example. “I remember when Mike Miller came here, first game he had like 25 points and 10 rebounds and then he goes to Florida State the next game and has four points and six turnovers,” Donovan said. “(Brad) is having to go through this process and I have confidence in him.”
— Donovan said it won’t feel any different facing Tennessee without its former head coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl, who was fired last March following NCAA violations on his watch, won eight of his first nine meetings againt Donovan. But Donovan won his last four games against Pearl to finish 5-8 against him. “Bruce and I always had a good relationship in terms of the one-on-one piece of it,” Donovan said. “I feel bad for him, I feel bad for Tennessee because I think we’re all responsible to do things the right way and do them in a way that are inside the framework of the rules. And sometimes people make mistakes and do things that maybe are not good.”