Starting Doesn't Matter to Young

Patric Young doesn't care either way. The ankle injury he suffered in early January took him out of the starting lineup, but the sophomore center doesn't mind that it has stayed that way since. Florida head coach Billy Donovan has brought Young off the bench over the last four games because of the energy boost he brings. They'll reevaluate before Thursday night when Florida hosts South Carolina.

"Patric is a real team guy," Donovan said. "He's very unselfish. He's always about what's best for the team. With him going to the bench, a lot of it had to do with the foot injury and his limited amount of practice time."

In the last four games coming off the bench, Young is averaging 9.8 points and five rebounds. On the season, Young is averaging 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. He has put up better numbers when he is in the starting lineup, partly because that comes with more minutes, but the energy Young brings off the bench has helped the Gators in recent games.

His 15 points and four rebounds at Ole Miss last week helped the Gators begin a strong second half comeback to record the win.

"I don't know if that's coming off the bench or not," Donovan said of Patric Young's success. "I just know he is comfortable with it and understood it. As he's getting healthier and practicing more, that'll be something that I will probably address.

"When Patric comes off the bench, it doesn't effect how he plays. A lot of it will come down to my feel and conversations with Patric to see where he's at mentally."

Donovan spoke with Young before the Gators hosted No. 16 Mississippi State on Saturday. He wanted to be clear of Young's role on the team and to make sure Young was okay coming off the bench.

Will Yeguete and Erik Murphy starting on the frontcourt hurts the Gators from a size standpoint and takes out a feared shot blocker, but Young usually substitutes into the game early in the game. He came in quickly against the Bulldogs and played tough defense against Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney.

"He said, ‘Coach, keep it as it is. I'm fine.' It has helped our team," Donovan said. "I think Patric has come off the bench and given an extra boost and element to our team."

With Young continuing to get healthier, Donovan sounded like he expects the sophomore to rejoin the starting lineup soon. His willingness to come off the bench for this long showed Donovan how much winning and being selfless means to Young.

"It takes a pretty humble kid, as good as he is as a player, to do that," Donovan said. "I also feel like it's my job and responsibility to make sure that whatever role he's in, he is a vital and important member of our team. We need to figure out how to best put him in a position where he feels like he can play his best."

South Carolina PREVIEW:

The Gamecocks have lost five of their last six games coming into Thursday night. They have become more settled on offense because of point guard Bruce Ellington. The sophomore started his first game of the season against Florida on January 14 because he was with the football team through the completion of their schedule.

Since returning to the starting lineup, Ellington is averaging 11.8 points and 3.5 assists per game.

He has also experienced success in the O'Connell Center one in his career already. Ellington went for 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting last season as South Carolina recorded a 72-69 win in Gainesville. The Gators know exactly what he is capable of doing.

"He's got great speed and is a great athlete for a guard," Donovan said. "He can score in the lane and has deep range. He has a different burst because of his explosiveness. When you try to help on him, he can break out of double teams and get down the lane. He can use his athleticism to finish at the rim. He's just a good player."

The Gamecocks will have plenty of youth on the floor Thursday. They will start two freshman and two sophomores around redshirt senior forward Malik Cooke, who averages a team-high 12.7 points per game.

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