The Florida Gators are fresh off yet another appearance in the Elite 8 under head coach Billy Donovan. Once again, the Gators are expected to compete atop the SEC standings, but unlike year’s past, it’s their front court that holds the team’s biggest key during the 2013-14 season.
The return of Patric Young highlights the team’s in-the-paint production, but Donovan and the Gators are also holding out hope that fellow forward Will Yeguete will be healthy enough to contribute in the fashion that he has during his time at Florida. Yeguete has never been a dominant presence, but his defensive impact and role production is crucial for Florida’s depth. Following a surgical procedure on his knee after last season, Yeguete is still recovering and going through a rehab that requires at least four months of his off-season. Recent reports have indicated that Yeguete is off crutches and improving, so he should have no trouble being ready to go by the time the season arrives.
However, Yeguete is a role player and now a role player fresh off a serious knee procedure — Florida needs star power alongside Young inside if they are going to compete for a National Championship and incoming freshman Chris Walker is the one that will provide that. Maybe. Walker needs to get eligible first and he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and question marks have continued to emerge, so there’s no guarantees at this time that the 6-foot-10 high-flyer will take the court in Gainesville.
The Gators also have a pair of transfers in Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris who will bolster the front court rotation, but Walker is the biggest key. Yeguete’s health is key, but Walker’s eligibility is crucial and there’s no doubt that Donovan would like both at his disposal next season.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS