The computer systems absolutely loved the Florida Gators last season, ranking them as the No. 1 team in the country for most of year. The Gators came up short of their ultimate goal in March, and while they lose a lot from last year's Elite 8 bunch, there are plenty of reinforcements on their way to Gainesville.
Could another deep run in the NCAA Tournament be on the way? Let's take a look.
Here's all you need to know about the 2013-14 Gators:
2013 Record: 29-8, 14-4 in the SEC
2013 Postseason: Lost in Elite 8 to Michigan
The Gators are going to look nothing like the team they were six months ago. The departures of Rosario, Murphy and Boynton cannot be overlooked; these players were not only leaders on the floor, but three guys Donovan could trust to lead his team off the floor. There will likely be some growing pains early in the season as the team begins to gel.
This being said, there will be no shortage of talent. Along with the Kentucky Wildcats, Florida will be considered a favorite to win the SEC in 2014.
Wilbekin and incoming freshman Kasey Hill, a consensus five-star recruit, will likely handle the point guard duties. Wilbekin has the experience advantage, although Hill has a much higher upside. It will be interesting to see how Donovan adjusts his lineup to get both of these talented floor generals on the court at the same time. With no shooting guard on the roster looking like a lock for the starting lineup, there will be plenty of minutes for both.
Where the Gators will have the advantage over just about every team in the country is in the frontcourt. There's depth, size and talent at all three positions.
Young will anchor the paint. The senior is a force on both ends of the floor, and his experience will be counted on when the going gets rough for UF. Yeguete will likely start alongside him at the four, and after turning in an efficient and promising junior campaign, he will try to take the next step forward as he begins to play more minutes.
At the small forward spot will likely be Chris Walker, another five-star prospect with a high ceiling. He's more of a combo-forward at 6'10, but has the skill to make plays happen with the ball in his hand. Walker finishes around the rim with authority and really likes to get out in the open court and run. Backing Walker up will be senior Casey Prather, a hard-nosed, versatile player who can cause some real matchup problems for the opposition. These two will solidify one of the forward spots very nicely for Donovan.
Two transfers who sat out last season provide important depth for Florida. Dorian Finney-Smith comes over from Virginia Tech and will provide a presence immediately on the defensive end. The same goes for Damontre Harris, who transferred from South Carolina last summer. He's an excellent shot blocker and strong rebounder and should fit right in with the Gators' defensive scheme.
It's not going to be easy to replace three seniors who meant so much to the program over the past few years. It's going to take some time for the Gators to come together as a team, but there's no denying the talent is in place for another run. If Hill and Walker are as good as advertised and Young and Yeguete continue to get better around the rim, the ceiling is very high for this team. Look for the Gators to compete for the SEC title and make yet another deep run in March.