If you’ve ever watched a Florida basketball game on television, you’ve probably heard someone gushing about center Patric Young. Maybe it’s the arms he claims he doesn’t really work out. They were so tantalizing to ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes that the play-by-play man took this picture with Young before Florida played Vanderbilt:
Best set of arms in college ball. The dude on the right pic.twitter.com/SnobVS8kwc
— Jimmy Dykes (@JimmyDykesLive) February 25, 2014
If it’s not his body, it may be a comparison to another sport, mainly football and an obsession with seeing if he could play the tight end position. He’s also gotten compared to a competitive swimmer coming out of the blocks and an MLB outfielder after making an athletic dive after a loose ball in Florida’s victory over Tennessee.
Soon, there will be no Young in a Florida basketball uniform as his career winds to a close in Gainesville. Monday, he told reporters that it took him awhile to get to the point he’s at now; a juncture in his career when he finally realized it wasn’t all about him. With that mindset entering the 2013-2014 season, Young was ready to make it the best year of his career.
“I knew this was my last chance to do something great here,” Young said. “I just really wanted to give it my best shot by putting in the work during the offseason. I’ve been focused on doing whatever I can to be more connected to my teammates, being a better teammate and trying to improve myself mentally for the ups and downs that come during the season and focus in on working harder each day.”
He speaks of “the process,” and the commitment to it being the main reason for his success. He is channeling his head coach Billy Donovan in these moments, when a commitment to the journey is more important than the destination (something Donovan himself has admitted didn’t come easy for him). In the late stages of a player’s four year journey statements like that show the impact of influences around him.
“The process can be boring at times when you do the same things over and over again,” Young said. “You have to embrace that because the foundation you lay early in the season or the offseason is going to bear good fruit hopefully when the season moves along.”
The fruit this season through 30 games is very sweet indeed. A school record 22 game winning streak continues to be extended, a No. 1 ranking atop both the AP and coaches polls continues to be defended and soon UF will venture into the NCAA tournament. The stakes get higher in March, and for Young and his fellow seniors the elite-8 has been just as much of a house of horrors as the O’Connell center is for UF opponents: three straight trips to the doorstep of the Final Four, three straight disappointments.
“We have to stay in the moment if we get another opportunity to go to the Final Four, hopefully. And not take any team for granted or the opportunity for granted. Just go moment by moment and know that we’re not going to get this chance again, especially me.”
UF is seemingly a lock to be a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament, if not the No. 1 seed. They’ll have what conventional wisdom would say is the easiest path through the tournament. Those things conspire to offer Young and his fellow seniors that last opportunity to do “something great” one last time at the University of Florida.