Standing 6’9″ and a chiseled 249 lbs with a 7’1″ wingspan, Patric Young looked the part of the Stone Cold Beast. A McDonald’s All-American his senior year of high school, one of three in the Florida Gators starting lineup, high expectations preceded him.
Perception, however, is often not reality.
Coming out of high school many thought he might be a one and done or at most two and done before moving on the NBA. Some labeled him a can’t miss prospect, a label tossed around loosely by writers and analysts but rarely lived up to.
There’s no denying his physical attributes and his basketball skills.
A man among boys in high school there were few who could defend him or challenge him in the paint. The SEC however is a different animal. In the SEC every school has athletic big men who can post up, rebound, and block shots.
Here Patric Young was a BIG fish in a very big pond. No longer was he bigger, stronger, and tougher than the guys he was playing against. No longer could you just feed him the ball and watch him turn and dunk.
Here you’ve got to have ball skills, you have to move well, and you have to play fast.
His freshman year was an awakening. Playing limited minutes as he learned not only the nuances of Billy Donovan’s system but also how to practice and play consistently he struggled averaging a little over 3 points per game and just under 4 rebounds per game.
Where was this Stone Cold Beast that Gator fans were longing for? Where was Dwight Howard Junior that would control the paint and make people forget about Noah and Horford? For the most part he was on the bench, watching, waiting, learning how to play at this level.
You see it’s not about measurables. Patric certainly had those from the get go. Size, strength, chiseled guns, quickness. It was all there. And yet there he was watching, waiting, learning.
Young’s freshman year was largely forgettable as the Gators relied on veteran guard/forward positions for the bulk of their scoring and leadership.
By the start of his sophomore year Patric was ready to break out. Or so we thought.
Oh, his stats certainly increased, how could they not? His minutes increased from 18 to 27 per game, his scoring increased from 3 to almost 11 points per game and his field goal percentage went from .556 to an incredible .618.
Yet at times fans still wondered where he was.
There were big games.
25 points against Arizona, 19 against Alabama, and 21 versus number one Kentucky.
Still there were 12 games that he attempted less than 5 shots per game. 5, in a game, by your big man. I don’t care who your center is, if he’s not attempting over 5 shots in game then that’s a problem. Even if you never feed him the ball, he should be getting at least five offensive rebounds per game.
Herein lies the problem. As talented as he is, as great a physical specimen as he is, he is inconsistent and tends to be passive at times. You like your center to be more like Charles Barkley, ready to jump in head first at all times regardless.
Young is physically gifted. He’s a fantastic shot blocker, powerful rebounder, and has a good post move. He just needs to be more assertive more consistently.
While he’s a great bigs defender underneath the basket he also needs to work on defending bigs away from the basket. He’s easily beaten off the dribble and gets confused at times defending the pick and roll.
Going into his third season in Gainesville, I look for Patric to come into his own making the leap from solid, but inconsistent, player to consistent player on both ends of the floor.
The last two years most of the Gators scoring and leadership have come from the guard position and that looks to continue this year. Their ability to put three point shooters on the floor should give plenty of opportunities for Young to make plays in the post both offensively and on the rebound.
Gator fans are eager to finally see the Patric Young they expected when he signed with the Gators. Dominant big man who controls the paint, rebounds and dunks with authority, and who can operate the inside/out game to perfection.
With the Gators expected to play a lot of three guard again this year, they will need an inside presence to command double teams giving their outside shooters some open looks. They’ll also need him to be able to create offense when the shots are not falling. That’s something that hurt them in big games in the regular season last year when their shooters struggled he was unable to create his own shot and carry the team.
This should be the season where his potential starts to be realized. NBA draft experts are expecting to see it this season as he’s projected to go mid to late first round in the next draft. Of course, if he plays as I expect him to this season that stock could rise quickly to lottery status.
There’s no denying he has the physical size and tools to be an NBA player. All that remains to be seen is if he has the mental skills and the work ethic to put it all together and become the consistent player Billy Donovan needs him to be.
If so this could well be a special season, a potential third straight elite 8 appearance, and maybe even Final Four or better.