Donovan scores big with Patric Young

For the second time in two weeks Billy Donovan has scored big on the recruiting trail. A week ago it was Kenny Boynton, the jewel of a very strong 2009 recruiting class. Friday night, it was Patric Young of Jacksonville Paxon who said yes to Donovan and the Florida Gators.

A 6-8, 200-pound power forward out of Jacksonville Paxon with impeccable grades and a work ethic that is already somewhat legendary, Young and his family sat behind the Florida bench Friday night as the Gators opened their season with an 80-58 win over Toledo in the first round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Long thought to be a strong Florida lean, Young elected to go ahead with the commitment so he can concentrate on basketball and his studies the remainder of his high school career.

“It’s a good fit for Patric and for Florida,” said Ryan Delafield, the director of scouting for the Jax Lee Bulls AAU program for whom Young plays on the spring and summer circuit. “He’s so raw and so explosive. He’s very good now but he’s only going to get better. I ‘Baby Al’ because he reminds me of Al Horford and that’s about as high a compliment as you can give a young big man.

“If you remember, Al came to Florida as a raw talent with a willingness to work harder than anyone else. He left with two national championships and a first round draft pick in the NBA. I think Patric is that same kind of kid. Billy Donovan has a good one.”

After a very good sophomore season at Paxon, Young exploded onto the AAU circuit in the spring of 2008. What impressed college coaches that followed his development was the way he seemed to improve measurably with each tournament.

Delafield said that the improvement is a direct result of coachability and work ethic.

“His strength is his work ethic,” said Delafield. “He’s never satisfied that he’s done his best. He’s always looking for a way to improve. He’s very analytical about his game and he’ll pick your brain after a game looking for every detail on what he needs to do to get better.

“What’s so great about that is the next day he’s in the gym putting everything you talked about to work and when he’s through with the workout, he’s asking you how he can improve some more. He’s one of these kids that’s early to the gym and late to leave.”

Because he’s so coachable and he’s such a good student in the classroom, Delafield believes that Young is a great fit at Florida.

“He’ll do everything Coach Donovan, Coach (Larry) Shyatt, Coach (Rob) Lanier and Coach (Shaka) Smart will tell him to do and then some,” said Delafield. “He’s their kind of guy. He just can’t get enough coaching and they won’t have to worry about him off the court. He’s a great student and he’s coming to a great academic institution so he’s going to get challenged in the classroom and I know that’s important to him and to his mother.

“He’s a very family-oriented kid and he’ll fit in well with the family atmosphere Coach Donovan has built at Florida and when he needs to see his mama, he’s only 75 miles away. I can’t think of a better situation for Patric.”

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.