When you go 21-0 against conference foes, you deserve to be named the league’s coach of the year. The player who guided you through perfection should take player of the year honors. That’s exactly what happened for Florida’s Billy Donovan and Scottie Wilbekin. The Associate Press announced their selections for the SEC Coach of the year and Player of the Year, and Donovan and Wilbekin took the honors. Both earned these honors just a week after the conference coaches voted them with the top awards.
Donovan deserves a ton of credit with the Gators going 32-2 on the season and sweeping the SEC regular season and tournament championships. He’s built a juggernaut at Florida and he’s convinced some good players to play very unselfishly. Donovan’s also convinced them to play defense, something that was lacking during the three-year absence from the NCAA Tournament after the 2007 National Championship. This is Donovan’s second straight time winning the award and third time overall (winning in 2011, 2013, and now 2014). Florida became the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament yesterday, the second time in school history (2007). The Gators are riding a school-record 26 game winning streak and have set all sorts of win records, including consecutive wins at the O’Dome, SEC wins in a row, SEC road wins in a row, and also finished the regular season with the best record ever at UF (29-2). He’s still in the running for the USBWA Coach of the Year award as well.
Wilbekin, meanwhile, deserves this award more than anyone else. He’s guided this team through close games (see: Kentucky SEC Tournament Final) and has played smart, controlled basketball. He’s earned the nickname “Scottie Ice” because he’s usually money from the free throw line to ice games down the stretch (Sunday notwithstanding). Wilbekin averaged 13 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.6 rebounds on the season. He upped his game during conference play, thrice setting career-high’s for scoring. Wilbekin averaged 13.4 points and 44.6% from three-point range during SEC play, improving from 36.3% during the non-conference schedule Florida’s only losses this season were without Wilbekin. He was suspended in the loss at Wisconsin and hurt his ankle with three minutes to play in the loss at UConn. Wilbekin also just won the SEC Tourney’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Patric Young was also named to the AP All-SEC Second Team after an impressive senior campaign. Young averaged 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds during the season.
Florida will next be in action in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday at around 4:10 pm. The game will be played at the Amway Center in Orlando.