Florida freshman Casey Prather admitted it’s been tough at times sitting on the bench with little playing time this season.

“It was kind of frustrating at first,” Prather said. “I just tried to work hard and develop as a player.”

Prather was rewarded with his first career start Sunday at LSU. Though the soft-spoken, 6-foot-6 swingman from Jackson, Tenn., didn’t score, he finished with 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 assist in 15 minutes. Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin played the lion’s share of the minutes (30) left by the absence of senior forward Chandler Parsons.

It looks more and more like the 6-foot-10 Parsons will return Thursday against Georgia. A source told me he made it through Wednesday’s practice with no ill-effects from the deep thigh bruise he suffered Feb. 12 against Tennessee.

But Florida coach Billy Donovan said Prather will probably get another start Thursday night, with Parsons coming off the bench. Prather is a similar athlete to Georgia swingman Travis Leslie. Both are big-time leapers who can get and up and down the floor and finish in transition.

Prather looked tentative offensively at times against LSU. But Donovan was pleased that Prather played hard defense and stayed within the framework of the offense.

Though Prather hasn’t scored much this season, he feels like he’s becoming more confident offensively.

“I feel like (my offense) it’s developing,” Prather said. “It’s getting better in practice, each day, going against players like Chandler Parsons. I think it’s developing well.”

— Senior power forward Alex Tyus will play the final game of his career at the O’Connell Center on Tuesday night against Alabama. But Tyus, a St. Louis native, will be replaced on the roster next season by another highly-touted player from his home city.

Incoming 2011 McDonald’s All-American freshman guard Bradley Beal also is from St. Louis. The sharp-shooting Beal recently scored 40 points in a nationally-televised high school game. Tyus said he’s talked to Beal a few times.

“I really don’t know him that well but I’ve seen him play a couple of times,”Tyus said. “He’s really, really good. I have friends back home that see him play all the time and say really, really good things.”

Beal is the third St. Louis native recruited by Donovan, joining Tyus and former All-SEC power forward David Lee. Lee was picked by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft and is now playing for the Golden State Warriors.

“There could be some tradition with that,” Tyus said, when asked about the St. Louis connection. “Also, (kids want to) get out of the Midwest, get out of the cold weather. Coach Donovan, he’s a great coach and the team is really family-oriented. Guys stick together. So I feel like that’s some of the things kids see when they visit Florida.”

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