Even after some ups and downs in his first season as a starter, Florida junior center Patric Young could have tested the waters and put his name in the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-9, 247-pound Young was projected as a late first, early-second round pick last April because of his NBA-ready body. But Young said he never contemplated leaving UF.

“I never really thought about it,” Young said at UF basketball media day. “I just love this school so much. I love my teammates. I love my coaches.”

Young earned SEC men’s basketball scholar athlete of the year honors last season. He enjoys school. He has mentioned on Twitter that his goal in the future is to build a school for disadvantaged children in an effort to stamp out illiteracy.

On the court, Young showed flashes of dominance last season, scoring 21 points over Kentucky center and eventual NBA first overall draft pick Anthony Davis. But consistency was an issue. Young finished the season averaging 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. He was bothered with nagging foot and ankle tendinitis, but Florida coach Billy Donovan said last season was more of a case of Young learning to push through fatigue.

“I think going through what he went through last year, I think he realizes the importance of being in great shape,” Donovan said. “I think he realizes the importance of playing with a sustained level of intensity. I think he realizes that when he doesn’t do those things, he puts himself in a position where he picks up fouls and he could be on the bench early in the game.”

Young missed three weeks in September while recovering from mono, but Donovan was encouraged that he passed his preseason conditioning test earlier this week.

“I would say a year ago him coming off of mono, he would have never had a chance to pass it,” Donovan said. “So I’ve seen some growth in him in that area.”

Yes, it’s nine months way, but NBAdraft.net currently projects Young as an early second round pick (34th overall) to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2013 draft. His stock could move up with a big season, which would benefit both himself and the Gators.

But Young isn’t too concerned about that at this point.

“These first two years, I’ve matured and grown so much,” Young said. “I just feel as though when I make that decision, I’ll know right away. I’ll know, Patric, it’s time, you’ve learned all you need to know as a man, as a player, as a professional. I still feel I have so much more to learn. I think this year will help me grow so much more, and we’ll see after that if there’s more to come.”

Other notes:

– Donovan said based on individual drills, it’s too early for him to get a gauge on UF’s freshman class. UF’s four incoming freshmen include point guard Braxton Ogbueze, shooting guard Michael Frazier, forward DeVon Walker and guard Dillon Graham. “Their attitude is very good,” Donovan said. “I think we’ve made some significant progress in the weight room. But I usually find out a lot more once we start getting to practice and it’s an everyday deal that we’re going through.”

– Miss him already? Former Gator one-and-done guard Bradley Beal finished with 15 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds for the Washington Wizards in a preseason loss to the New York Knicks.

– CNN/SI had ranked Florida fifth overall in its preseason Top 25. Here’s a look the preseason rankings, and a pretty cool video of Young pushing a truck during offseason conditioning drills.