Donovan lowers expectations for freshmen

The Gators are bringing two of the top ten high school players in the country to campus for next season, but Florida head coach Billy Donovan is starting to lower the expectations already. With the veteran roster that will return to the floor in the O'Connell Center next season, those players will be expected to carry the load. However, there's no question the freshmen will make an impact.

Point guard Kasey Hill and power forward Chris Walker have all the tools. Hill is a pure point guard that can create shots for teammates or get to the rim with ease. Walker is one of the best athletes in the country, and though he is still raw, his ceiling is high with college coaching.

But Billy Donovan doesn't want too much to be expected.

"I'm always cautious," Donovan said. "I think one of the things that happens a lot of the times is when guys come in as freshmen, and whether they're McDonald's All-American or those things, there's an automatic expectation. I just think there's not necessarily a direct correlation there. Just because you were great in high school doesn't mean you're going to be great in college."

The Gators have experienced freshmen making major impacts. Brad Beal did it in Gainesville just two seasons to go, carrying the Gators to the Elite Eight and earning the third overall selection in the NBA Draft. His season is over because of an injury, but Beal averaged 13.9 points during his rookie year.

Mike Miller led the Gators in scoring with 12.3 points per game during his freshman year and was named a Freshman All-American by multiple publications.

There is plenty of talent to make an immediate impact between Hill and Walker to make a big impact, but Donovan won't get a feel for that until they get to campus this summer. Until then, he'll continue to encourage the two to come into college in shape and ready to play.

"Some guys can come in and make that kind of impact right away," Donovan said. "Then there are other guys where it takes them a little bit of time to figure some things out. They definitely bring an added value to our team."

Walker has elite athleticism

Donovan wouldn't address rumblings about Walker's eligibility when he spoke to the media last week to wrap up last season. He said that grades are always a concern for every prospect until they graduate from high school, and they will continue to deal with the normal process of getting any prospect into school.

"I think all those guys right now, you always worry about until they graduate," Donovan said. "You know until those guys finish their senior of high school, we're never going to ever know until they get actually qualified and cleared. I think in looking at our incoming freshmen certainly they are in the right courses, taking the right classes and doing all of that stuff, but I think that stuff will end up playing itself out whenever he graduates."

Hill brings a sterling reputation to Gainesville. He's a polished product capable of running an offense, helped by his experience at the highest level as a part of Montverde Academy. He can defend, handle the ball and get to the rim. His jump shot needs work, but there's time for that to come around.

With Scottie Wilbekin returning for his senior season, he is expected to start at point guard. But there are ways for Florida to make both happen. Wilbekin didn't always play as an on-ball guard last season, and he can do that again next year during the times Hill carries the load.

"You can play Scottie anywhere, when he's out there, he can function," Donovan said. "He's just a basketball player; you can throw him out there and he'll go out there and play."

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