Had a chance to speak with Casey Prather, Florida’s top scorer, for a few minutes this morning as the Gators finished practice in Gainesville.
Here are a few tidbits as we wait for the Huskies to finish up their practice at Gampel, with interviews to come about noon.
“This is just a special time for me,” said Prather, a senior, who had been plagued by injuries much of his career. “I’m happy to be able to get out on the court and play without injuries. It’s great to be a part of this team right now.”
He stuck it out, Prather says, “because I love the game of basketball, I love to play. The coaches here and my teammate kept me engaged. Playing for [Billy Donovan] has been a great experience; you’re talking about a guy with a lot of passion, who is very smart. He’s taught me to be a man, not only on the court, but off the court and in general.”
Prather, a 6-foot-6 forward from Tennessee, is a versatile player, perhaps similar to UConn’s DeAndre Daniels, who he knows through AAU circles, though he is not as tall. Prather scored 28 points in Florida’s opener against North Florida, and he is averaging 19.1 points per game. He scored 19 in the Gators’ 67-66 victory over Florida State on Friday night, their biggest win to date.
“That was an important game for us – but because it was the next game on our schedule,” Prather said. “We’re hungry. We know it’s a long season and it’s going to be a process.”
Florida (6-1) is ranked 15th in the AP, but could move up when the new polls comes out Monday.
The Gators start four seniors – Prather, Will Yegette, Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin, along with sophomore Michael Frazier II. Their one loss, at Wisconsin Nov. 12, was an experience with the kind of hostile environment they will face at Gampel Pavilion on Monday night.
“We have a lot of experience,” Prather said, “and we understand when we get out there, it’s going to be our team against theirs, not us against the crowd.”