After winning 36 games, running the table in the SEC and reaching the Final Four, the Florida Gators are faced with the task of accounting for the graduation of three of their top four scorers from 2013-14. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, forward Casey Prather and center Patric Young (and foward Will Yeguete) are all gone, leaving junior Michael Frazier II (12.4 ppg) as the team’s leading returning scorer.
One of the players expected to step forward in 2014-15 is guard Eli Carter, who began his college career at Rutgers and suffered a broken leg late in his sophomore season. Florida head coach Billy Donovan hoped to have Carter at some point in 2013-14, but the guard’s slow recovery resulted in the decision to redshirt him.
Having that time to recuperate means that Carter will be ready to go when practice for the 2014-15 season begins, right? Not exactly, with Donovan stating at an Atlanta Gator Club meeting that Carter still has some work to do in order to reach the level he played at prior to suffering the injury.
“Right now, we’re trying to get his leg stronger,” Donovan said according to Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. “It was a really difficult injury. It’s fully healed, but there is some dysfunction there. We’re hoping we can get that back. We don’t know right now whether he can be an everyday guy at practice. That’s the biggest question mark.”
Frazier and point guard Kasey Hill, who backed up Wilbekin at the point, are expected to lead the way on the perimeter for the reigning SEC champions and there are other options as well. Freshmen Chris Chiozza and Brandone Francis are both talented players capable of helping Florida, and the same goes for Carter. Carter averaged double figures in each of his two seasons at Rutgers, scoring 14.9 ppg as a sophomore, and his ability to score is something the Gators will need given the personnel losses mentioned above.
But Carter’s ability to help Florida is limited if he isn’t playing at full strength. And with that being the case, it’ll be interesting to see how Donovan handles Carter’s practice reps and playing time in early-season games if the leg continues to be an issue.