Billy Donovan has quickly built the Florida Gators basketball program into one of the elite teams in the nation. They are a perennial contender for the SEC title, and routinely have the talent to be in the national championship conversation. This year, Donovan and the Gators are heading into the season with more questions than answers.
They lose their top three scorers from last year, including guards Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton. In their place will step a mix of transfers, veterans and highly-touted freshman. Kasey Hill and Chris Walker were both big recruiting wins for Donovan, but Walker will be ineligible for the first half of the season. With Scottie Wilbekin suspended indefinitely, Hill will compete for the starting point guard spot right away.
Seniors Patric Young and Will Yeguete return to start down low, but Yeguete is coming off a knee injury from last season. The rest of the squad will be rounded out with returning wing players Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II to go along with transfers Eli Carter, Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith. A collection of talent that will need to find continuity at some point in the season, the Gators are counting on contributions from players who are either injured, coming off major surgeries or have been deemed ineligible.
The Gators have a high ceiling this year, but they have a low floor too. If they can find a way to gel quickly enough, they will challenge Kentucky for the SEC title. The good news for Florida fans is that what really matters is that they find a winning squad come March.
Florida will have enough talent to get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Playing in the tough SEC, and taking on several very good out of conference opponents, the Gators will likely struggle to get more than 22 or 23 wins this year. I’ll give them the better, putting them at 23-9. That will be enough for them to land a 5 or 6 seed, and a chance to finally have their roster healthy and ready to go for a deep run in the tournament this spring.