It was a stellar year for the Florida Gators, but no one really paid attention to any specific player on Billy Donovan’s team until the 2014 NCAA Tournament when Scottief Wilbekin came alive. However, sore knees hobbled the Gators’ point guard during their Final Four loss to UConn and senior center Patric Young took that opportunity to step up. Although Florida lost the game, Young got a nice consolation prize by drastically improving his 2014 NBA Draft stock in his final college basketball game.
During his fourth and final campaign in Gainesville, Young averaged less than 11 points and just over six rebounds per game. Those numbers increased slightly during this year’s tournament, but his individual domination of the paint on both ends of the floor against UConn was really what turend the heads of NBA scouts at AT&T Stadium.
Young scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting and really took advantage of all the fouls committed against him by hitting clutch free throws after getting off to a rocky start from the charity stripe. At 6-foot-9, Young is a little undersized to be a center in the NBA, but his sheer strength and ability to muscle his way to the basket with the ball in the paint is unrivaled of any big man entering the draft this year. Yes, that includes guys like Julius Randle and Joel Embiid; Young has a confident, mature swagger with the ball in his hands down low that is hard to teach, even at the NBA level.
It’s safe to say Young wasn’t a major target on the NBA radar before the Final Four, but his effort in the paint and genuine hustle all over the floor blocking shots, pulling down rebounds and bullying defenders on his way to the hoop had to have turned heads of several teams in need of a big man in the second round of this year’s draft. He’s not going to be a lottery pick, but some smart NBA team is going to get an underrated big man who isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body and lead by example.