The curious case of Patric Young was apparent in Florida’s 79-59 Elite Eight loss to Michigan.
With a gameplan that featured dumping the ball to him and Erik Murphy inside, Young picked up two early fouls and never got in the flow of the game, finishing with 8 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes. He was 4 of 8 from the floor and missed several bunnies around the basket.
Should we be surprised? Maybe not. Here’s what Florida coach Billy Donovan had to say about Young’s junior season last October.
“What people don’t realize in 80 percent of NBA players are role players,” Donovan said. “They fill a role. A lot of people have talked to Patric about his post moves, it’s not about that. Ive told him to try to get himself in the best shape of his life. If Patric runs the floor, gets deep post ups with his size and strength, goes to the offensive glass, he’s putting himself in position to be a scorer. But if we’re going to throw the ball to Patric in the low post two steps off the lane line, that’s not probably his strength.”
Then it was interesting that with a Final Four berth on the line that the Gators employed a strategy to dump the ball in the post to Young and Murphy, who clearly wasn’t himself all week. It wasn’t a banner day strategy-wise for UF’s coaching staff, from the offensive gameplan to the Gators leaving Michigan freshman Nik Stauskas wide open in the corner when he was the hot hand. But that’s another subject for another day.
The bigger issue is Young, who is mulling whether to return for his senior season. Young finished his junior season with 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, about the same as his sophomore year (10.2 ppg, 6.4 rebounds). And we never really saw the explosive scoring ability that Young displayed as a sophomore, when he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds over eventual NBA first-overall pick Anthony Davis.
Florida’s track record of producing big men is strong, but much of that occurred when Alabama coach Anthony Grant was a UF assistant. Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey works with the bigs now.
Young talks about wanting to be great, but it’s fair to question if he is putting the work in to be great. His free-throw shooting has regressed since his freshman season (from 75 percent, to 59.5 percent as a sophomore to 48.9 percent as a junior). He had four double-doubles as a sophomore, and six as a junior. His defense in the post improved, but his field goal percentage (.618 as a sophomore to .586 as a junior) dropped.
Young could decide to enter the NBA draft, but he’s clearly not ready. Most NBA scouts love his body (6-foot-9, 247-pounds), but joke about his limited game. One NBA scout who watched Young at Texas A&M could predict a typical offensive sequence in the right block of the post — dribble, dribble, hook shoot. “I’d love to see some something different,” the scout said.
Young is a great student who has the right attitude, but perhaps a little more time alone in the gym to refine his skills would suit him well. Champions never stop working on all facets of their game.