Gators earn four major SEC basketball awards
Three days after becoming the first SEC team to go 18-0 in league play, Florida earned four major conference awards, voted on by the league's coaches.
Florida coach Billy Donovan was voted SEC Coach of the Year and senior guard Scottie Wilbekin is the SEC Player of the Year. It is the second consecutive season Donovan has been voted Coach of the Year.
Senior center Patric Young was named Defensive Player of the Year and junior Dorian Finney-Smith was named Sixth Man of the Year. Senior F Casey Prather joined Wilbekin as an All-SEC First Team selection.
Wilbekin is only the second Florida player ever to be named SEC Player of the Year, joining Chandler Parsons. His award comes in a year of redemption after Wilbekin was suspended twice - once in the offseason and again at the start of the season - for off the court behavior.
“It feels good," Wilbekin said. "I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates, Coach D believing in me and Jeremy Foley (UF athletic director) giving me a second chance. All of my teammates had faith in me, and obviously as doing as well as we did in the SEC, being 18-0.”
Young, who was an All-SEC second team selection, also earned a league-record third consecutive Scholar Athlete of the Year award.
"I’m grateful to my teammates for playing such terrible defense so I could pick up the slack," Young jokingly said. "It’s a reflection of our coaches, their belief in me and how I’ve been coachable and apply it on to the court ... just to be able to see what’s happening before it does and rotate properly. I think everyone on our team – it’s been a team effort. If there was an All-Defensive Team award, I would think that would be something more that should be praised. We’ve played tremendous defense all year and hopefully we can keep that going."
After never receiving Coach of the Year honors during his first 14 seasons at Florida - which included two national championship seasons - Donovan has now won the award three of the past four seasons. He is the first coach to win the award in consecutive seasons since Don DeVoe did so at Tennessee in 1981 and ’82. Donovan joins DeVoe, C.M. Newton (Alabama, co-1975, ’76) and Adolph Rupp (Kentucky, 1968-72) as the only coaches to win the award in back-to-back seasons.