The Florida Gators basketball team last season was short on depth at guard. They had basically three guys and a backup, point guard Scottie Wilbekin. In his first two seasons, Wilbekin’s primary role was to spell long time starting point guard Erving Walker, provide energy, and get the ball to the playmakers on the perimeter.
Sliding in to the starting point guard slot this season, after the graduation of Walker, Wilbekin’s role hasn’t changed much. This season his charge is to provide energy, get the ball into the hands of the Gators shooters, with a talented freshman class providing depth, and occasionally take his shot when it’s there.
Wilbekin hasn’t been an extremely efficient shooter in his first two years averaging 38 percent shooting overall and 37 percent from three. His shooting averages did increase last year, however, from his weak freshman year to 43 percent overall and 45 percent from three point range. In the offseason he’s worked extremely hard at increasing his offensive efficiency shooting between 400 and 500 shots per day.
However, his shooting isn’t what Billy Donovan needs the most from him this season. That would be interior penetration, distributing the ball to the perimeter shooters in rhythm, and making what he calls “energy plays”. According to Donovan,
“He’s got good size and strength, good athleticism, he’s got good speed, he’s a pretty good loose ball guy.”
Perhaps Wilbekin’s biggest asset is his quick hands and quick feet as demonstrated by the 58 steals he has already in his Gator career and he’s a very tenacious on-ball defender.
“Everybody’s just going to see something different than what they’ve seen from a Florida point guard in the last three years,” said Wilbekin. “I love playing defense and I love making energy plays.”
Scottie’s quickness will be relied upon heavily this year to not only breakdown interior defenses which should get some open looks for his perimeter guys, but also to facilitate the fast break, a major component of Billy Donovan’s offense throughout his time in Gainesville.
While the 5’8″ Walker was good at the dribble drive, once he got into the lane he had a difficult time scoring over much taller defenders. Wilbekin at 6’2″ with good ball skills should have an easier time getting to the basket when he drives into the lane. That should not only create more scoring opportunities for him but should also get the perimeter shooters more open looks.
So realistically, while Wilbekin’s role won’t change dramatically this year, they will need him to be more efficient on the offensive end, continue with his fantastic assist to turnover ratio which is over two for his career, and keep providing his chaotic and disruptive play on the defensive end. They will need him to be effective in all three if they wish to achieve their stated goal of getting to the Final Four this year.