Despite being bounced from the NCAA tournament by Michigan, Florida Gators basketball is already looking at the 2014 season optimistically. Florida center Patric Young announced that he will be staying in Gainesville, Fla. to play his senior season.
Florida has now emerged as the early favorite in the Southeastern Conference, as Young is one of the most talented players in the SEC. Young was rumored to be a late first round or second round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft which certainly influenced his decision to return to Florida.
Young’s return doesn’t come as a huge shock because he has mentioned wanting to earn his degree multiple times. His announcement comes as a gigantic relief to head coach Billy Donovan, who will be graduating seniors Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario.
Florida’s driving force next season will be finishing what they’ve started. In each of the past three seasons with Young as their center, Florida has lost in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. Young averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Gators this season, and he will most likely become the No. 1 scoring option for the team in 2014.
The Gators have left the NCAA tournament disappointed for the past few years, but with Young returning for his senior season, Florida is chomping at the bit for another opportunity.
John Engel is a Pac-12 college basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.