Senior Casey Prather has transformed his game from a defensive stalwart with a rim rocking dunking ability to a slashing scoring threat that leads Florida with 14.8 points per game through UF’s first 28 contests. He shoots 60.6% from the field, which is second on the team, leads the Gators in total points (with 386 through UF’s first 28 games) and is third in rebounds per game with 5.4. His efforts are being rewarded as he was named one of 15 finalists for the United States Basketball Writers Association’s player of the year award Wednesday as reported by Yahoo’s Pat Forde.
He burst on the scene this season as a scoring threat in the season opener against UNF when he scored 28 points, he then went on a streak of having double figures scoring in Florida’s first 20 games.
Should he win the award, he would be the first Florida player to ever do so. Florida head coach Billy Donovan spoke about his players’ pursuit of individual awards Monday.
“I don’t think that our guys are playing for individual accolades or awards and I don’t think our guys are playing for necessarily rankings,” Donovan said “I think our guys are in the process of competing in a very, very tough SEC race right now. Then the SEC Tournament will come and postseason play will come.”
Donovan has his own individual accolade to go after since he was named to the USBWA coach of the year watch list, one of 10 names. Donovan has never won the award, and would join Kentucky’s Tubby Smith and Missouri’s Frank Haith as the only SEC coaches to win it in the 21st century.