Billy D pleased with Prather

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It’s early, but Florida coach Billy Donovan has been pleased with the play of junior forward Casey Prather in his return from post-concussion symptoms.

In two games, Prather is averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench. More importantly, Prather has just one turnover in two games.

The 6-foot-6 Prather has been wearing boxing headgear in practice in an effort to prevent further concussions. Prather suffered two concussions during a two-week span in preseason practices. After the second concussion, Prather wasn’t cleared to return to practice until UF’s fifth game of the season against UCF.

Donovan joked that the headgear is helping the turnover-prone Prather focus better in practice.

“He’s got tunnel vision and he can’t see anyone in front of him,” Donovan said. “Maybe the more people he sees. the harder it is.

“Casey has done good. The biggest thing with him right now is his conditioning is behind and I think to his credit, he’s trying to push himself through that, he’s trying to get better. But you can see he’s winded. He’s missed a lot. You think about the first several games, him getting the first concussion and then the second concussion, he’s missed a lot right now. But it’s great to have him back in practice, with his energy, his athleticism. I think the biggest thing for him right now is just getting in better shape.”

A Jackson, Tenn., native, Prather was viewed as a strong under-the-radar recruit by the Gators. Some recruiting analysts compared Prather to another former Tennessee Gator standout, Corey Brewer, because of his athletic and defensive ability.

But it’s taken longer for Prather to develop, because of his inability to consistently value the basketball. Donovan said that Prather has improved his decision-making with the ball, but still slips up on occasion. Prather gained confidence at the end of last season in March when he filled a valuable role off the bench for injured forward Will Yeguete. He scored a career-high 14 points off the bench last season in UF’s NCAA Tournament opening win over Virginia.

“He’s got assurance that he knows he can do it,” Donovan said. “I’ve got confidence in him. He’s a junior right now. I think some of the things early on his freshman and sophomore year, hopefully he’s grown through it. He’s still got to get better taking care of the ball, making good decisions and doing those things. I’ve got confidence in Casey, I just have to try to help him get back in better shape.”

 

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Kevin I am curious about your opinion of this team. My father was a rare Florida basketball supporter before Sloan’s stint in the 1980s so I have been following Gator hoops since 1980. With progression of Prather, Yeguete, Murphy and Wilbekin, this team is the 2nd best team I have seen, only behind the 2007. Yes that means they are better than 2006.

    That does not mean they will win a Championship. Remember that team was not the SEC winner and was only a 3 seed. What I am saying is this is a special team that can accomplish much. I felt the same about the 2011 which barring some questionable calls with a 10 point lead, should have been a Final Four team (saw it live).

    Many of those same players are on this team and they are much better. I am just saying that I do not remember a team that was so good on both offense and defense while at the same time being as deep as the 2000 team.

    This is the third time Donovan has built a Championship caliber team while at Florida. While there have been some leaner years, as opposed to the Championship ones, it is truly amazing what has been accomplished with so little recognition from the College Basketball World.

    Again, this team is better to me than any since 1980 except the 2007 team. I hope they reach their full potiential and if they do it will be a fun winter. Please let me know your thoughts.

    • I like the depth and the versatility of this team. How will they respond to adversity? Do they have a guy who can take over offensively at crunch time? Those are questions that have yet to answered but based on talent and experience this is one of Billy’s better clubs. Still a lot of basketball to be played through. Let’s see how they handle success tonight against FSU.

  2. To compare this team to the National Championship teams is a mistake. Horford, Noah and Brewer were beasts and had able backups in Moss, Richards and Spaetz(sp?). Murphy is a stretch 4 with some inside presence and Young is inconsistant. Yeguette and Prather are average but lack size. Considering only IU Looks dominant thus far, they could still go far.

  3. The biggest improvement I’ve seen for Prather is just overall skill. His shot looks dramatically better in both trajectory and weight; and dribbling seems much more fluid. The last two years it looked as though he and the ball were having an argument; I’m happy for him and Billy D.