On Sunday, Billy Donovan announced that senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was reinstated and will rejoin the team for Monday’s home game against Jacksonville.
In mid-June, Wilbekin was suspended for a “violation of team rules.” What makes this so concerning is that it’s the second time he’s been suspended; last season Wilbekin missed the first three games of Florida’s season.
According to Donovan, Wilbekin seems to have turned the corner and made the necessary changes to return to the team:
He’s playing. He’s going to play [Monday],” Donovan said. He’s done everything. I’m really proud of him…He’s shown an incredible commitment to get back on the team and to do the right things and more so than anything else to really prove to his teammates that he’s committed to the team. So I’m not going to hold him back at all.”
With Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario no longer patrolling the Florida backcourt, the onus was on Wilbekin to take over the starting point guard role this year.
Florida has relied on freshman Kasey Hill at point guard in the early going, but he injured his ankle against Southern University. Against Middle Tennessee, the Gators were forced to go with a point guard by committee. Donovan explained how unique of a situation it was to enter a game without a true point guard:
Certainly the Middle game was a unique situation because it was the first time I can remember as a coach not ever having a game where we just didn’t have a pure point guard, the whole entire game. That’s really never happened.
Wilbekin’s return comes at an opportune time as the Gators have a brutal four game stretch upcoming with games against Florida State, Connecticut, Kansas, and Memphis.