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Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has elevated his game during the postseason.

Friday April 4, 2014Final Four Notebook: One-and-dones vs. four-year players, Wilbekin as leader, more tidbits

Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has elevated his game during the postseason.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The front page of the Dallas Morning News' sports section Thursday featured a large graphic with a "1 and done" headline.

With Kentucky and its loaded roster of elite freshmen in town for the Final Four, the storyline is a popular one.

Wildcats coach John Calipari would rather it just go away. Speaking on his weekly radio show this week, Calipari voiced his weariness over the label.

"I'm on a mission,'' Calipari said. "How do we change this 'one and done?' Because they've created a negative connotation to 'one and done' and tried to tie it to me, even though it's not my rule."

Billy D

While Gators coach Billy Donovan has had players leave school for the NBA after only one season during his 18-year tenure -- most recently Brad Beal in 2012, the third overall pick of the draft -- he said Thursday he doesn't spend much time fretting over the potential of a player leaving after a year when he's on the recruiting trail.

"My recruiting philosophy has not changed,'' Donovan said. "We're going to try to get guys that fit our philosophy, our style of play and how we would like to play. I really am not bothered with it one way or the other. We're looking for people that would fit how we want to play."

What does bother Donovan is when players stay in school such as seniors Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete, and then if they don't have successful NBA or professional careers, people label them disappointments.

Young was projected as a lottery pick after his freshman season based on potential but has seen his draft stock fall over the past three years.

"I saw an article, was really sad, it was about kids that had stayed in college for four years and had unbelievable careers, deep runs in the tournament, Final Fours, and I don't know all the players it mentioned, but they were not in the NBA,'' Donovan said. "They were overseas. They viewed themselves as failures.

"I found that very sad. That's kind of maybe a societal issue where we start to deem what success is for a lot of these kids. And if they don't make it to the NBA, then their college career means nothing. I feel bad that a lot of kids walk off a college campus if they have been there for four years and view themselves as being anything less than successful."

LEADING THE WAY

Wilbekin's play in the NCAA Tournament has gained the attention of the national media. Despite being named SEC Player of the Year, Wilbekin remained under the radar for most of the season.

Scottie Wilbekin

In seven postseason games starting with the SEC Tournament, Wilbekin leads the team in scoring (15.3 points per game) and has 21 assists and only 16 turnovers. There's talk that Wilbekin is playing his way into the NBA draft.

But Wilbekin's leadership is getting as much media play as his on-court skills. He steadied the team in wins over UCLA and Dayton last week by taking charge in critical moments and calming the Gators down.

"It's important to have somebody on the floor that kind of relays what the coach wants and can say from a better perspective on the floor,'' Wilbekin said. "It's important to keep us connected and together as a group. I just tried to grow into more of a leader as I've grown older and just kind of have my mind more into the game."

SHOOTING TO BE FIRST

Florida is the fourth team to reach the Final Four on a 30-game win streak since the NCAA Tournament began seeding teams in 1979.

The Gators join the 1979 Indiana State team led by Larry Bird, the 1991 UNLV team that featured Larry Johnson, and the Elton Brand-led 1999 Duke team. None of those teams won the national title.

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“I think he's in the couple of handful of greatest coaches in the game. He's got two national championships in his back pocket and he's vying for a third, the odds-on favorite to win a third. Even in the years he hasn't won a national championship, he's been to three straight Elite Eights prior to this year. He's always knocking on the door.” -- Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, the AP national coach of the year, Thursday on Donovan's career

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"I think everybody was looking at the 33‑point loss as a problem. We were looking at it as a possibility for us to get better as a team." -- UConn coach Kevin Ollie on the Huskies' 33-point loss to Louisville in the regular-season finale.

QUOTE OF NOTE III

"We know our guys are going to get in front of 75,000, look around and think, 'Oh, my, it's going to be that way.' Then we'll both try to settle down our teams and try to get them to focus on basketball, lose themselves in the game and just play a basketball game. But if you think these 18‑ and 19‑ and 20‑year‑old kids are going to be not cognizant of what's going on around them, they will be." -- Kentucky coach John Calipari on playing on the game's biggest stage

BONUS SHOTS

There will be a watch party at the O'Connell Center if the Gators advance to Monday night's national championship game. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and fans can watch the game on the GatorVision video boards inside the arena. No food or drinks from the outside will be allowed ... Former Gators coach Lon Kruger, who led Florida to its first Final Four 20 years ago, is in town for the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention ... Former UF assistant Richard Pitino, on Donovan's when the team's four seniors were freshmen, won the NIT title Thursday night when his Minnesota team defeated SMU at Madison Square Garden ... Erik Murphy, who played his final game for UF a year ago at AT&T Stadium in an Elite Eight loss to Michigan, was waived Thursday by the Chicago Bulls. Murphy averaged only 2.6 minutes in 24 games ... With the Final Four in the Big D Dallas' three major professional sports teams currently in season -- the Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL) and Rangers (MLB) -- are on the road while college basketball's marquee event is in town.

 

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