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Gators Casey Prather named to Wooden Midseason watch list



Florida forward Casey Prather is among 25 players named today to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list.

The senior from Jackson, Tenn. leads the Gators in scoring with 17.3 ppg and also averages 5.5 rebounds. Prather has scored in double figures in all 15 games he's appeared in this season.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for a player who struggled the first three seasons with injuries and an inability to find a specific role on the team.

Prather has scored 259 points this season and needs just 17 more to match his scoring total throughout this first three seasons with the Gators (276).

His .636 field goal percentage ranks No. 4 in the nation and is No. 1 in the SEC.

“I think he’s playing with a clear head," Florida coach Billy Donovan said this week. "I think he knows who he is. I think he’s playing to his identity. I think so much earlier in his career he was trying to be somebody he was not. It’s amazing to me with young players, a lot of times they have a tendency to focus on their weaknesses. And Casey was a guy that I think everyone told him with his athleticism and his speed and his quickness and the way he can jump and finish in transition that if he can really prove that he can be a deep long-range jump shooter, that he’s got a chance to play in the NBA. So inevitably that became the focus for him early in his career, you know, shooting the basketball, shooting the basketball. And it was probably the fifth or sixth thing he did best in his game. There were a lot of other things that he did so much better than shoot the basketball. And I think now as he’s gotten older, he’s playing to that identity. He’s slashing to the basket, he’s getting to the free throw line, he’s offensive rebounding, he’s getting out in transition (and) he’s taking pull-up, mid-range jump shots. He hasn’t taken a lot of threes but when they’re wide open and they’re there, he’s going to take them. So I think he’s kind of played to his identity and that’s kind of helped him, I think, evolve into who we thought he could be when we recruited him here. And I think the other piece of it too was when you know you’re going to play, you know you’re going to be in that rotation, that also relieves a lot of pressure, too.”

Here are the other players on the Wooden Award midseason list:

Player                    Pos.      School
Kyle Anderson          G/F       UCLA
Keith Appling            G          Michigan St.
Cameron Bairstow     F           N. Mexico
Jordan Clarkson        G           Missouri
Aaron Craft             G           Ohio State
Sam Dekker             F           Wisconsin
Cleanthony Early      F           Wichita St.
Tyler Ennis             G            Syracuse
C.J. Fair                 F            Syracuse
Aaron Gordon          F            Arizona
Rodney Hood          F             Duke
Nick Johnson          G             Arizona
DeAndre Kane         G             Iowa St.
Doug McDermott     F             Creighton
Shabazz Napier       G             Connecticut
Jabari Parker          F              Duke
Adreian Payne        C              Michigan St.
Julius Randle          F             Kentucky
Marcus Smart        G              Okla. St.
Russ Smith            G              Louisville
T.J. Warren           F              N.C. State
Andrew Wiggins     G              Kansas
Chaz Williams        G              UMass
Joseph Young       G              Oregon


[Last modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 1:22pm]


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