#6 Florida Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Florida Gators

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #2 SEC

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Coach Billy Donovan took his Florida team to yet another Final Four. The Gators cruised through the SEC with a perfect 18-0 record and ended up winning an amazing 36 games. The Final Four loss to Connecticut was disappointing, but nobody at Florida can feel bad about the accomplishments this team had during the 2013-2014 campaign. But now it is time to move forward and continue that success.

2013-14 Record: 36-3, 18-0
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Billy Donovan
Coach Record: 451-169 at Florida, 486-189 overall

Who’s Out:
With four senior starters gone, Florida will look quite a bit different. Casey Prather was the team’s top scorer, averaging 13.8 points per game. The 6-6 forward also added 5.0 rebounds and could block a few shots here and there. Patric Young and Will Yeguete joined Prather as starters in the frontcourt. Young was another double-digit scorer and led the team with 41 blocks on the year. Yeguete was never much of a scorer, but he was a strong rebounder and defender. The loss on the perimeter is Scottie Wilbekin. He averaged 13.1 points per game and took a lot of the big shots from the Gators. DeVon Walker was set for a much bigger role this season, but a torn ACL will keep him out for the year.

Who’s In:
Coach Donovan does have some more nice freshmen coming into the program, but there are some more experienced options coming into the program too. Eli Carter was a big time scorer during his time at Rutgers, but it remains to be seen if he is truly over a foot injury that kept him sidelined last season. Jon Horford and Alex Murphy are a couple of forwards who Florida fans will recognize because both of their brothers are former Gators. Horford is eligible to play immediately after spending the last four years at Michigan. The 6-10 forward was never a big scorer for the Wolverines, but he is very tough on the glass. Murphy saw very limited playing time with Duke and will not be eligible until after the first semester concludes. The group of incoming freshmen is impressive, led by forward Devin Robinson. He is a versatile player who excels in the open floor. Shooting guard Brandone Francis should be able to find a spot in the regular rotation and Chris Chiozza will step into the backup point guard role. Zach Hodskins may be a walk-on, but few in the country work as hard as he does. The 6-4 guard was born without a left hand and forearm and is ready to prove himself to another group of fans and opponents.

Who to Watch:
Despite losing four starters and bringing in a quality group of newcomers, Florida will mostly rely on their returning players to fill out the starting five. Michael Frazier is the team’s lone returning starter and he will be the new leader of the team. Frazier knocked down an amazing 44.7 percent of his 264 three-point attempts last season. He set a school record for made three-pointers last season and that record is in jeopardy this season. Kasey Hill showed flashes of his potential as a freshman. He did dish out 3.1 assists per game and played some great basketball during the NCAA Tournament, especially against UCLA in the Sweet 16. His shooting will need to improve, but Hill is a great ballhandler who can run this team. Dorian Finney-Smith was the SEC’s best sixth man last year, averaging 8.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. The big 6-8 wing will keep Florida strong on the glass and can boost his scoring output too. Chris Walker did not see much action as a freshman, playing just 87 minutes all season, but that had more to do with the talent in front of him than anything else. He has the talent to be a double digit scorer and one of the better rebounders on the team.

Final Projection:
This Florida team may not have as much experience as the group last season, but there is potentially more talent and more depth. By March, when it matters most, the Gators will have all the experience they need to make another run towards the Final Four. The injury to Walker will put more pressure on Robinson to play major minutes as a freshman or even step into a starting role, but Coach Donovan has options. He could run a three guard lineup and start Carter or Francis or slide Finney-Smith to the three spot and put a player like Horford or Murphy into the starting lineup beside Walker. Of course Coach Donovan will find the combination that gives him the best opportunity to win and just about any coach in the conference would love to have the options that Florida should have this season.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Kasey Hill, Sophomore, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Michael Frazier, Junior, Guard, 12.4 points per game
Devin Robinson, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Dorian Finney-Smith, Junior, Forward, 8.7 points per game
Chris Walker, Sophomore, Forward, 1.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.9 (199th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.8 (3, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.0 (82, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.2 (30, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (131, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.9 (99, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (269, 11)
Rebound Margin: 5.0 (30, 3)
Assists Per Game: 13.1 (144, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (58, 2)

Madness 2015 NBA Draft Rankings:
#12 Chris Walker
#28 Kasey Hill

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#18 Devin Robinson
#31 Brandone Francis
#44 Chris Chiozza


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