SEC notes: Florida's Young takes wait-and-see approach with UK freshmen

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 17, 2013 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Might Kentucky's heralded freshmen rest on their considerable laurels? Florida center Patric Young hopes so.

"I hope they think that they can just walk on the court and beat everybody," he said at the Southeastern Conference Media Days on Thursday. "I hope that's what they think. As soon as they step on the court and play a real top team, they are going to see that it's not just a walk in the park. One-and-done is not for everybody."

Young also adopted a wait-and-see attitude about UK freshman Julius Randle, who won a media vote for SEC pre-season Player of the Year.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "Coming out of high school, there's all the hype and whatnot. It doesn't really mean too much. The one that counts is the one at the end of the year. This guy, he hasn't gone through any adversity or played a single minute yet. We'll see how things turn out."

Florida Coach Billy Donovan, who worked with Randle on a USA U18 team, raved about the UK freshman."Oh, I love him," he said. "He has a really, really high basketball IQ. I think he's a pass-first guy. He was very, very unselfish. I think maybe the best skill he has is passing the basketball. He's got great vision.

"He's as quick a 6-9, 240-pound guy as I've ever seen."

'Overshadowed'

Florida's Young saluted Kentucky's history while wondering if the Gators' success had been fully appreciated.

"The program has so much history," he said of UK. "But I believe some of the things we accomplished have been overshadowed."

Less is more

Young has his weight down from 255 to 242. "Eating really clean," he said.

"I thought he got too big and too strong last season," Donovan said. "He's moving better. He has more flexibility. He doesn't look as tight and rigid as he did maybe a year ago."

Eclipsing Rupp

Last March, Donovan passed Adolph Rupp in NCAA Tournament victories. The Florida coach has 31 to Rupp's 30. Donovan said he was unaware of the milestone.

"It just means Kentucky's in another league or the NCAA Tournament was not around when (Rupp) was the coach," he said, "because he certainly won a lot of games."

Cal saluted

South Carolina Coach Frank Martin saluted John Calipari as a "relentless recruiter who coaches as well as anyone in the country."

When asked about UK's haul of six McDonald's All-Americans in this year's freshman class, Martin noted how the hamburger chain puts up a sign claiming two billion servings. "Cal is going to have to put up 200 billion McDonald's All-Americans served," he said.

'Good problem'

While Tennessee boasts a veteran roster, UT Coach Cuonzo Martin noted that UK's talent deserves recognition, too. "Talent is talent," he said. "When you have talent, that's a good problem to have."

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Mississippi State Coach Rick Ray noted Calipari's "rock star status."

Then Ray made another observation about UK's team. "And the guys coming in, they're like the Beatles."

Nashville

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive likened the decision to make Nashville a quasi-permament site for the league's men's basketball tournament to other sports. Atlanta is home to the SEC's football championship game and Hoover, Ala., to its baseball tournament.

Fans like the routine and familiarity of a permanent site, he said.

Nashville rated high because it's centrally located within SEC boundaries. It fulfills the fans' preference to see the tournament in an arena rather than a dome. It also affords fans the chance to watch the games, eat at restaurants and enjoy music entertainment without having to drive to several locations, Slive said.

On Wednesday, Calipari suggested another factor: UK fans attended sessions throughout last year's SEC Tournament even though the Cats lost their first game.

When asked if Calipari was correct, Slive said, "I don't remember any discussion of any set of fans."

Media daze

Here's a comparison of numbers from the SEC's football and basketball media days this year.

The two-day basketball affair included 67 media members and a total issuance of 284 credentials. In football, the SEC issued 1,239 credentials.

Participants in the basketball media days consumed 800 bags of potato chips, drank 2,000 cups of soda and ate 575 meals. In football, it was 2,000 bags of potato chips, 7,500 cups of soda and 1,600 meals.

Slive acknowledged the gap in those numbers. He noted smaller media resources (human and financial) as a factor in the lightly attended basketball media days. He also cited the midweek dates in the middle of football season.

The SEC is trying to promote basketball through its challenge series with the Big 12, featuring the sport on its soon-to-launch TV network, the assigning of Associate Commissioner Mark Whitworth to the sport full-time and the hiring of former NCAA Tournament official Greg Sheheen as a consultant, Slive said.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton.Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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