Wilbekin excited to see Hill at point


It’s clear that rising sophomore Florida point guard Kasey Hill has big shoes to fill.

In replacing departed Southeastern Conference player of the year Scottie Wilbekin at point guard, Hill is arguably the most important returning player for the Gators next season. The lightning-quick Hill showed flashes of his McDonald’s All-American ability last year but will need to be more consistent if the Gators are to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament in 2014-15.

Hill had a taste of starting last year, making most of his eight starts while Wilbekin was suspended.  But barring something unforeseen, the 6-foot-1 point guard from Umatilla will be given the keys to UF’s offense this season.

“Kasey is definitely going to have more opportunities to show what he can do this year,” Wilbekin said. “I’m excited just to see what he does.”

The highlights for Hill last season included 10 assists if UF’s Sweet 16 win against UCLA, 15 points in UF’s season opener against North Florida and 10 points off the bench in an NCAA Tournament win over Albany. Hill finished his freshman season with an assist-to-turnover ratio of exactly 2:1 (100-50).

“We all got to see his maturation as a player from the beginning of the year toward the end,” Wilbekin said. “I thought he was playing phenomenally at the end. I think he did a better job of being sure of himself and not making crazy plays or try to force it or be fancy.”

But Hill has areas for improvement in 2014-15. Florida coach Billy Donovan felt Hill could have done a better job on perimeter defense keeping players in front of him, though Hill did have a knack for coming up with steals (37 in 32 games). Another glaring problem was perimeter shooting. Hill finished the year just 5 for 35 (14.3 percent) from 3-point range and made just one 3-pointer in Southeastern Conference play (at home against Georgia).

Hill will likely continue to endure some tough love from Donovan as he continues to develop as a point guard. It’s something that Wilbekin knows about first hand.

“I told him those wonderful stories of when I was a freshman and a sophomore,” Wilbekin said. “Coach D is hard you but at the end of the day he always gets what he wants out of you and that’s for you to a better player. I’m sure he won’t be as hard on Kasey next year, him being the starter and all. But he will still be hard on him, I can guarantee you that.”

Other notes:

— Florida 2015 shooting guard commitment KeVaughn Allen put together an impressive showing last week at the Peach Jam. Allen averaged 22.4 points per game and shot 53.1 percent from 3-point range (17-32), helping lead Team Penny to the title game. ESPN college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman described Allen as “fearless” after watching all five games.

— After re-signing for a ninth season with the San Antonio Spurs, former Gator forward Matt Bonner took the NBA Championship Trophy for a spin in his home state of New Hampshire. Here are some interesting photos of Bonner with the trophy.