Patric Young working to NBA goals while watching Gators

Patric Young is accustomed to hard work.

It’s what helped him earn multiple awards in his senior year at the University of Florida, including SEC Defensive Player of the Year. It’s also what led him to securing a spot with the New Orleans Pelicans as an undrafted free agent.

Furthermore, it’s also what he believes will allow him to achieve his goals of All-Star games and great play in the NBA.

“I have no doubt in my mind I’m going to be able to reach my goal, and I’m going to work everyday. Make sure that good days or bad days, I’m going to bounce back and continue pursuing that relentlessly,” Young told Gator Country.

Currently, the former Florida Gators center has not played in a regular season game, but has focused on learning the offensive and defensive schemes, as well as bringing a good attitude to the team. Young said he wants to be ready to go whenever he is called upon to play.

While Young is working hard to make it on the court soon, he has enjoyed the journey he is on thus far. The rookie said he is loving New Orleans and being in the league, and has found it cool to practice against All-Star center Anthony Davis.

“He’s just been blessed with so much natural talent and he works his butt of as well, so when you have a guy that talented and that works hard, I mean, the sky’s the limit for someone like that,” Young said.

Another group that will have to work hard like Young are the players on his alma mater. As the Gators prepare for their season opener Friday against William & Mary, Young said he’s talked with his former teammates and assistant coaches, such as Mark Daigneault, who now coaches with the Oklahoma City Blue NBA D-League team. While Young has been told the team isn’t going to be the same as last year, he believes the team is capable of success because of Donovan and the players buying into the system.

Last year, the Gators had four seniors in the starting lineup– Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete– all providing experience and serving as the leaders on the team. This year, as new players fit new roles, Young said it is up to players like Kasey Hill, Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Frazier II and Jacob Kurtz to make sure the team is staying on top of what they need to do to win games.

“Coach Rashon Burno would always as say, ‘Closed mouths don’t get fed,’ and that’s a great motto for a team,” Young said. “If no one is willing to push each other and challenge each other, then no one is going to be able to reach the goal as a team, wherever you want to be.”

After last week’s preseason game against Barry, the lack of a post presence was acknowledged by Donovan. However, Young thinks the team will be fine with Finney-Smith, Alex Murphy and Chris Walker. The former Gator finds it more important that the players buy into his former coach’s defensive schemes, as it led to success during his time at Florida.

Young said the team’s understanding of what their roles and buying into Donovan’s system. The dedication led to players working hard through drills, as they knew they would help get them where they wanted to be.

“My junior year we would count up every time we held a team to 40 points or less and we took great pride in that, so if we put the second unit in and we had a team to 30 points with five minutes left, we’d expect that second unit to be able to hold them from getting those 10 points,” Young said.

As Young keeps a sharp mental focus to make his NBA goals come to fruition, he will be watching for the same from his alma mater this season. While a lot of the attention has been on the players missing from the 2014-15 squad, Young said a the ability to stay on task and play in Donovan’s system will be key to success this year.

“I’m looking for this team, most importantly, just to be able to stay together and not listening to what people say that they can’t do and they’re not going to be able to do this, but just being able to say within themselves and play to their strength and defy the odds by just doing that,” Young said.

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_