Scottie Wilbekin enrolled at Florida as a 17-year-old because the Gators were thin in the backcourt.
But next season, the 6-foot-2 Wilbekin could find minutes harder to come by. Even though Wilbekin emerged as a defensive specialist and was invited to the Team USA Under-19 tryouts, he’ll be part of a Florida team with five guards capable of starting at most Division I programs throughout the country.
It’s a positive dilemma for Florida coach Billy Donovan, who has been trying to rebuild his backcourt depth since Nick Calathes unexpectedly left as a sophomore for Greece at the end of the 2008-09 season.
UF’s starting backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton return next season. But added to the mix in 2011-12 will be Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario and incoming freshman Brad Beal. Beal, a McDonald’s All-American, is a soft-shooting 6-foot-3 shooting guard ranked third overall in the country in 2011. Rosario, meanwhile, was sixth in the Big East in scoring at 16.1 ppg in his last full season at Rutgers.
“There are going to be some great guards here next year,” Wilbekin said. “We’re all going to come in here and work hard. Whatever Coach D wants to do, I’m all for it.”
Added Florida teammate Patric Young: “We have so many guards with this team, it’s possible that we could have one of the best backcourts in the (Southeastern Conference) or maybe in the country possibly. We have fast guys.
“We’re going to be a really good pressing team possibly. We’re going run the floor a lot more, maybe go four guards, one big man for something like that. But it’s up to Coach Donovan, whatever he sees works best for this team. It’s going to be completely different from the team last year, I’ll tell you that. Maybe a lot more 3s, a lot more shooting.”
Rosario practiced with the Gators last season, but was unable to play due to NCAA Division I transfer rules. Asked what to expect from Rosario, Wilbekin responded: “I can tell you to expect a lot of 3s. He’s a great shooter. He might be the best pure shooter on our team and he’s a scorer, too. He’s efficient.”
Wilbekin recently returned from a two-week stint in Macedonia and Kosovo playing for Athletes in Action.
“I loved it over there,” Wilbekin said. “The games were a little different with the way the refs called it and everything, but I got used to it.”
The Gainesville native said the biggest adjustment to playing under FIBA rules were traveling violations, “They called traveling a little bit more there than over here,” Wilbekin said. “I can’t explain it but I had to get used to it. You have to dribble the ball more before trying to do moves.”
But getting accustomed to the FIBA rules should help Wilbekin when he tries out for the Team USA Under-19 team later this week. If Wilbekin makes Team USA, he would be making his second trip overseas in less than two months. Team USA will travel to the U-19 World Championships in Latvia later this summer.
“To go overseas once this summer is a pretty big deal,” Wilbekin said. “But to go overseas twice, that would be amazing.”