NCAA BK

Gators' Young will return for 2013-14

Image: Florida's Patric Young (© Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)
Florida's Patric Young averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)

Patric Young's first three seasons at Florida ended one victory shy of the Final Four. He'll take another shot at getting there.

Young announced Monday that he's staying in school for one more year, a decision that should make the Gators one of the favorites in the Southeastern Conference.

Young's choice was no big surprise since he has talked for weeks about wanting to get his degree. But he had been projected as a second-round pick in this summer's 2013 NBA draft, causing some speculation that he might turn pro.

But Young said he wants to finish out his college career, which has ended in the regional finals in each of his three seasons.

''I have the chance to finish my degree and play another season for coach (Billy) Donovan with great teammates and friends at a place I love,'' Young said in a statement. ''These first three years have gone by in a flash, and I can't believe it is my senior year already. I have gotten better as a player and better as a man at the University of Florida.

''I believe God has my future in his hands, so all I am worried about now is getting better this summer and making it the hardest I have trained in my life.''

The 6-foot-9 junior from nearby Jacksonville averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds this season. With seniors Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario graduating, Young could be the focal point of coach Billy Donovan's offense in the fall.

''We're excited that Patric will continue with us for his senior season,'' Donovan said. ''This was Patric's decision to make, and he ultimately had to do what he felt was best for himself and his future.''

Although Florida is losing its top three scorers, the defensive-minded team should be in good shape in 2013-14. The Gators return forwards Will Yeguete and Casey Prather, and guards Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II. They also get two big men in the mix, with former Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith and former South Carolina center Damontre Harris becoming eligible.

Throw in incoming freshmen Kasey Hill (point guard) and Chris Walker (6-10 forward), both of whom made the McDonald's All-America team, and Young should have plenty of talent around him for another NCAA tournament run.

Many believe Young, whose stamina has been a question mark, might be better by playing fewer minutes. He averaged 26.5 minutes as a junior.

Although he shot nearly 59 percent from the field, he struggled from the free throw line (48.9 percent) and had nearly as many turnovers (56) as blocked shots (58).

So Young has plenty of room for improvement. So does his postseason resume. Young and the Gators blew double-digits leads against Butler (2011) and Louisville (2012) in regional finals before getting blown out by Michigan in the South Regional final last week.

Tagged: Florida, Patric Young

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