Liam Jones (aka The Youngest Gator Blogger You Know; aka @Liam_Jones15) ran into ESPN Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman and got the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding Gator Basketball). No this is not a goof interview (TUG’s Interview with Will Muschamp). So, please enjoy this Q & A with ESPN Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman.
Liam Jones: Florida has a lot of questions going into the season, Wilbekin, Walker, how do you see them dealing with these questions with Billy Donovan at the helm?
Jeff Goodman: I think Wilbekin is more important than Chris Walker, to be honest. Wilbekin is a great guard. I talked to Billy Donovan down here at the Peach Jam and he’ll be O.K for the start of the season.
Chris Walker more up in the air, but they don’t need him that much to be honest. You think about it, they have Patric Young back, a 4-year guy in the middle. They got Will Yeguete, hopefully healthy. Then you add in transfer Damontre Harris, he is talented. You add Dorian Finney-Smith from Virginia Tech.
They’ve got a lot. Honestly, Chris Walker is talented, he can be a lottery pick someday but maybe it’s better if they bring him along slowly and they can keep him for more than a year. So I like the Gators. I love their freshman point guard Kasey Hill coming in. He’ll be the best point guard Billy Donovan’s seen in years to be honest. True point guard. I really really like the Gators this year, clearly a top ten team.
LJ: Do you see Billy Donovan playing Hill and Wilbekin together?
JG: He [Billy Donovan] told me he plans to play them together at times. Again Wilbekin can guard, shoots it well enough. I feel you should never have enough good ball handlers on the court together. As long as one of them can shoot. Can’t have two guys who can handle but can’t shoot. Wilbekin has proven he is a good enough shooter. Kasey Hill can score as well. I think you’ll see those guys on the floor together at times but Frazier will get a lot of time because he can really shoot the ball.
Still unsure whether Eli Carter, Rutgers transfer, is eligible for this year but that will be interesting to see because Carter could give some quality minutes coming off the bench as a power guard. They have a lot of leverage. They don’t even need Walker and Carter but if they get ‘em they’re really really deep.
LJ: Going into March Madness last season there was a lot of emphasis on Florida’s inability to close out close games. What is behind that and what is the key to improving upon that this season?
JG: I think it’s just a different team. I never trusted Kenny Boynton with the ball in his hands at the end of the game. Before that it was Erving Walker. You could never rely on those guys. Walker made some big shots, Boynton really never did. You had Erik Murphy who could shot the ball but I’m not really sure he wanted in clutch time. I think they could never turn the page on that or get over the hump. They did a good job getting to the Elite Eight. I think at this point you need a guy who you know is going to take that shot and make quality decisions. Boynton I know wasn’t that guy and Walker was erratic as well.
LJ: Something I have noticed, the most successful UF players in the NBA have been big men (Joakim Noah, Al Horford, David Lee). I believe it’s because the guards at Florida were never forced to be THE guy and that’s what is necessary to be a star at the next level. As a big man, that is not something you need to in order to be successful at the next level. Have you noticed anything similar?
JG: Yeah, certainly they have had some great bigs. I think Beal would have been that guy had he come back another year. But he had to go obviously, being drafted that high.
*Editor’s Note: Wilbekin could still miss games; his reinstatement could just mean he is allowed to practice.
By The Youngest Gator Blogger You Know