Florida Gators PG Scottie Wilbekin stepped up on Monday – in more ways than one

By Adam Silverstein
November 26, 2013

It did not take long – just under two minutes, actually – for Florida Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin to find his groove on the court.

With 18:09 left in the first half, Wilbekin made his first impactful play of the season by driving into the paint, drawing two defenders and dishing the ball to senior center Patric Young for an easy two-handed dunk.

He grabbed his first rebound 22 seconds later, registered his first steal 40 seconds after that and pushed the Gators ahead by 10 points after 52 more seconds elapsed by finding sophomore guard Michael Frazier II wide open for an easy three-pointer.

“It seemed like forever. It was just great to get back out there,” said Wilbekin following Florida’s 86-60 victory over the Jacksonville Dolphins on Monday night. “I was a little nervous before the game just because it had been so long, but once the ball got tipped up and we started moving up and down, I got back into it.”

Missing the first six games of the year due to a suspension for a violation of team rules, Wilbekin played for the first time this season and could often be spotted with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, especially while surrounded by his teammates.

In all he assisted on four of Frazier’s five threes, drained two triples of his own and served as the floor general the Gators have been so sorely missing this season even though freshman PG Kasey Hill filled in admirably in his absence.

Wilbekin was not all smiles after the game, however. Head coach Billy Donovan brought the local product out to his post-game press conference, an unusual occurrence outside of a tournament in which the team is participating, and sat alongside him as he delivered a contrite apology to Gator Nation.

“I just wanted to start out by saying that I apologize for my actions over the summer and apologize to the fans. I already apologized to my teammates when it happened. I’m just glad to put that stuff behind me,” Wilbekin began.

“It was great to be out there playing back with my teammates. I’m just looking forward to moving past the suspension and not looking back. I think I’ve really matured a lot as a person, grown in some ways.

“This suspension was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me because I learned a lot over the summer. Through Coach D and just through some work that I did, I really think I progressed a lot as a person. I’m just glad it’s behind me, and I’m looking forward to moving on with the rest of the season with my teammates.”

Wilbekin said he learned the value of things in his life, especially the opportunity he had to play at Florida under Donovan. Before handing down a punishment, Donovan first gave Wilbekin the option to transfer, something the player turned down on the spot.

“[I declined] just because I love this program and I love my teammates and Coach D is a great coach,” he explained. “I think I have a good relationship with him, and I couldn’t see myself playing for anybody else.”

And play is exactly what Wilbekin did on Monday, nearly as well as he has in any other game in his four-year career. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and registered five rebounds while leading the Gators with seven assists and three steals. He also played a team-high 34 minutes.

“He knows what I expect, what I want. He can get us in and out of offense quite a bit,” said Donovan. “Scottie’s got a lot of minutes and a lot of games under his belt.”

The end of Wilbekin’s suspension happened to coincide with Hill suffering a serious high-ankle sprain during last Monday’s game. Coincidentally, Florida only had to make due for one game without a legitimate starting point guard.

It just so happens that as much as Wilbekin needed Donovan pushing him to become a better person and player, Donovan is now counting on Wilbekin to push the Gators to become a more cohesive team, one slowly but surely appearing to be capable of making some major noise this season.


  1. adsfjkldfsljkdfs says:

    So who starts when Kasey Hill is back?

  2. adsfjkldfsljkdfs says:

    Literally or Figuratively because I don’t think you can bench Michael Frazier, he brings a dynamic to this team only Dorian-Finney Smith can try to compare to in his shooting as this team is not filled with shooters as past ones were. Neither Scottie Wilbekin or Kasey Hill are really fit for a SG position and neither are really good shooters so it would be hard to start both of them at the same time.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    Adam, do you know Scottie at all? Did it all seem canned/prepared or do you think he really has got it figured out and matured to be a positive moving forward?

  4. Johnjd says:

    I think Scottie will start and Hill will come off bench. Why would Billy start two pg’s and then rotate them throughout the game, unless that is something he promised Hill to get him to sign- which I doubt. Hill will be behind in development due to lack of experience with injury.

  5. adsfjkldfsljkdfs says:

    Do you think that Michael Frazier or Dorian Finney-Smith can get into the NBA? I look at all of this NBA drafting stuff and it seems like no one has them anywhere inside the top 100 and it just doesn’t make sense. Michael Frazier is an electrifying shooter that is starting to develop more to the game than just 3’s that I’ve seen so far throughout the season such as in the Wisconsin game and Dorian Finney-Smith is a big and long 3 that can dribble and shoot as well as rebound and finish at the rim. They seem like prototypical NBA players, yet no one is looking at them, can you tell me why?

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