The Florida Gators were picked to finish second in the SEC and could end up winning the conference if the freshmen in Lexington do not mesh as expected. But there are plenty of concerns in Gainesville, even beyond Billy Donovan having lost each of his top three scorers from last year. Several Gators are recovering from surgery and others may face a suspension, while one freshman will not be academically eligible until December at the earliest.
Still, Donovan fields a team that opens the season ranked No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and with good reason. The Gators have a ton of talent on the roster; it's just a matter of putting it all together.
Eli Carter: Carter was cleared to play immediately after transferring from Rutgers, where he averaged 14.9 points per game for the Scarlet Knights. He suffered a broken fibula last February in a game against DePaul and still has not been medically cleared, but once he is, he will be asked to provide an experienced hand in the Gators' backcourt.
Kasey Hill: The six-foot Montverde, Fla., guard comes in as one of the most decorated recruits in the country. He was a McDonald's and Jordan Brand All-American and ranked 10th overall on ESPN's list of 2013 recruits. Next, he'll be asked to run the offense for Florida behind starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Hill is a true point guard who can create for his teammates or use his athleticism to score on his own.
Michael Frazier II: Frazier's status to start the season is in doubt. He was held out of practice earlier this month with a virus that doctors feared could be mono. Thankfully tests came back negative, but it's still not clear when he will be ready to play. The guard shot 47 percent from three last season and earned a spot on the United States U19 national team this summer.
Scottie Wilbekin: Wilbekin is fresh off his second suspension at Florida and after being reinstated earlier this month, he'll likely be the team's starting point guard. He posted nine points and five assists per game last year while seeing his playing time jump from 15 minutes to over 30 minutes per contest from his sophomore to junior seasons. Provided he stays out of trouble, the only question should be how Donavan splits playing time between Wilbekin and the phenom Hill
Dorian Finney-Smith: Finney-Smith is another transfer for the Gators. He comes from Virginia Tech, where he played in 2011-12 and pulled down seven rebounds per game. He might not project to be a starter for the Gators, but should be one of the first options off the bench.
Damontre Harris: The transfer from South Carolina sat out last year but hopes to play for Florida's first game this season. Unfortunately for the Gators, he is dealing with a hamstring injury that will keep him out of practice indefinitely. This comes after he suffered a torn labrum and sprained ankle while ineligible in 2013. When he finally is ready to go, Harris will add another big body to a guard-oriented Florida team.
Casey Prather: The rising senior took on a much larger role last year than he had in his first two seasons in Gainesville, but rumors have surfaced that he will be suspended for multiple games to start this season. Finney-Smith and Harris have also been rumored to face suspension and while no credible reports have surfaced yet, Donovan did not deny it.
Chris Walker: Walker is one player who knows his status for sure for the start of the season: He will not be able to play. Walker will not be academically eligible, but is confident that he will be able to play after the first semester. The five-star freshman was also a McDonald's and Jordan Brand All-American.
Will Yeguete: Continuing with a familiar theme for this year's Gators, Yeguete is not ready to play quite yet and his status for the season opener is still in doubt, according to Landon Watnik of the Tampa Bay Times. The senior is recovering from knee surgery but has given the Gators steady production each of the last two seasons.
Patric Young: Young is the Gators' leading returning scorer, having put up 10.1 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds. This year, though, he will need to do even more. He came to Florida touted as a big-time scorer, but has yet to display his full potential at Florida. A dominant Young would go a long way toward Florida's SEC title hopes.