University of Florida Gators Scottie Wilbekin hauls in a rebound against Norfolk State University Spartans Brandon Wheeless during their NCAA basketball tournament game in Omaha

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin won’t be playing on Friday night

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With Erving Walker having graduated the keys to the Florida offense were to be handed to junior Scottie Wilbekin, who may not be as explosive as Walker but he also isn’t considered to be as unpredictable.

But head coach Billy Donovan has decided that Wilbekin has some things to learn still, as he’s made the decision to bench his point guard for their season opener against Georgetown tomorrow night.

Chris Harry of reported the news this morning, and the move means that senior Kenny Boynton will run the show for Florida on the USS Bataan.

Wilbekin averaged just 2.6 points per game last season, but with the scoring options that the Gators have scoring points won’t be his most important job.

Setting up the likes of Boynton, Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy and Patric Young while also spearheading things defensively are the duties that Wilbekin will have to perform if Florida is to contend in the SEC.

Wilbekin averaged 1.6 assists per game, but it’s his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8 last season and 2.2 as a freshman) and the fact that he’s more of a distributor than a scorer that makes Wilbekin a solid option to run the show.

“Scottie is a pass-first point guard, not a scoring guard, but that’s not to say he can’t score. He can,” senior guard Mike Rosario said. “Erv came down the floor looking to score. Scott will take good shots when they’re there, but he knows this team needs a guy who can run the offense and distributes shots. And we need his defense.”

But with this decision by Donovan it’s apparent that there’s some work to be done, and not solely from a basketball standpoint.

Florida could be down two players for tomorrow’s match-up due to the concussion suffered by forward Casey Prather in Monday’s practice, and on Tuesday it sounded as if the Gators weren’t expecting him to be ready to play.

“He is totally healed from the first one,” coach Billy Donovan said of Prather. “Obviously now, he’s gotta go through a series of baseline tests and those things. They don’t think it’s as bad as it was before, but I would say that he, right now, is probably not going to play on Friday.”

With Wilbekin out and Prather doubtful the Gators will need a fifth starter. Freshmen Michael Frazier II, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and DeVon Walker all factor into the equation, with all seeing between 15 and 19 minutes of action in their 101-71 exhibition win over Nebraska-Kearney last Thursday.

Frazier was the most productive offensively, scoring 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, and both Ogbueze (15 points) and Graham (12 points, three assists) were solid as well.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.