Young eyes 1,000-point plateau

Patric Young has never been known as a scorer during his four years at Florida. The Gators have always possessed perimeter players capable of scoring and helping the team in that area. It's no different this year. However, Young is now 12 points away from being the 50th player in the Florida basketball history to score 1,000 points and has his opportunity to do it on Sunday against Savannah State.

His offensive game has taken plenty of heat over the last four years. Young came to Gainesville as a McDonald's All-American with the physique of a creature from Greek mythology. While Dwight Howard was dominating in Orlando two hours south, the expectations started to grow that Young should be similarly dominating for Florida.

As those expectations continued and Florida head coach Billy Donovan asked for everyone to be realistic, the consistency of Young's career in Gainesville has been undervalued. He posted similar statistical lineups in his first two years as a starter -- posting 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore and 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds as a junior.

This year, the numbers are on pace again, averaging 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds. He doesn't have the high scoring games that recent 1,000-point members Kenny Boynton or Erving Walker posted in their times in Gainesville, but the consistency is just as important.

"I've just done what's inside our system," Patric Young said. "I've made hook shots, layups and dunks. Coach Donovan does a good job of developing his players and putting them in situations where they can be most effective. He's definitely done that with me."

As Young gets closer to becoming the 50th player in school history to score 1,000 points and the 21st under Donovan, the Florida head coach is seeing an effort level that's exceeding what Young has shown in the first three years. After averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds during the first seven games this year, Young responded by averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds against Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis.

He has taken his game to a different level in recent weeks because of a newfound energy that will help the Gators as they begin Southeastern Conference play on January 8.

"I think this is the most consistent he's been since he's been here," Donovan said. "I think his effort has been really good. I think his work ethic has been very good. I think at least the last week here I'd say it's the best I've seen him for a length of time where he's really chased balls on the backboard. I think he's been really, really aggressive in keeping balls alive, trying to rebound out of his area."

His maturity is an advantage for Florida, as Young joins Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Will Yeguete to give the Gators four seniors in the starting lineup. For those four, this is the final opportunity to earn the ultimate goal of college basketball.

"This is our last chance to come away with a banner and a ring -- the big one," Young said.

WALKER STILL WAITING: The Gators continue to wait for word from the NCAA about the eligibility of freshman big man Chris Walker. He was admitted to Florida and is allowed to practice but hasn't received clearance to play in any games.

"I really do hope for his sake there can be some kind of timely decision," Donovan said. "He's already missed a game, he's going to miss a game here on Sunday. I'm just hopeful that our school, the NCAA can all get together and figure out a solution. I do think it's a very difficult time that he has come to school with the holidays, the new year and people that have plans so different things are going on and it makes it more challenging. Hopefully we'll be able to hear something soon."

The time in practice has been humbling for the former five-star forward. Donovan said that he struggled against Young and the veteran Florida frontcourt during his first few practices but has slowly started to improve after each practice.

The Gators aren't installing their schemes on either side of the floor at this point in the season, leaving Walker to work on his own to figure out what the Gators do or spend extra time with the coaches outside of practice. As he continues to learn, Donovan sees him getting more comfortable and improving his play.

"He's getting better," Donovan said. "I think he's overwhelmed in terms of the amount of information and what we do. He's got to play a lot of catch up, but I can see progress. It's been humbling for him going against seniors like Prather, Yeguete and Young up front, seeing the size and the strength. He's got a good motor, his attitude has been very good. He's starting to pick things up offensively and defensively. We've been able to see some strides."


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