- Jason King
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Editor's Note: In the buildup to Midnight Madness, we are taking an in-depth look at Joe Lunardi's top five seeds in a series called Countdown To Madness. In addition to the Insider pieces, Eamonn Brennan will offer Three Big Things about each team and we'll have Five Questions with a player or coach from each squad.
Brad Beal’s pit stop at Florida lasted less than a year before the guard decided to enter the NBA draft, where he was the third overall selection last summer. Erving Walker is gone too, after three seasons of manning the point in Gainesville.
Still, anyone who believes Florida’s backcourt will take a dip because of the departures needs to consult with Kenny Boynton.
“Actually, I think we’ll be just as good as last year,” Boynton said. “We’ve still got a lot of guys who can play.”
None better than Boynton.
After averaging a team-high 15.9 points for UF’s Elite Eight squad as a junior, Boynton is hopeful his senior season is his best. The shooting guard chatted with ESPN.com last week about the upcoming season, as well as the Gators’ new-look backcourt.
What encourages you the most about this season’s squad?
Kenny Boynton: The best thing I can say about this team, compared to previous teams, is that we’re 16 deep. One through 16, we can all play, we all work hard. Whenever I come into the gym late at night to shoot or whatever, there’s always someone else in there. We have a huge upside if we can jell and put everything together.
How will the backcourt be different?
KB: The styles will be similar. Right now, I’m not sure who the starters will be. Mike Rosario is a great scorer. He didn’t see a lot of minutes last year, so he’s hungry. Scottie Wilbekin has been looking really good, and Braxton [Obgueze], the freshman, is working really, really hard. I like him. He’s got a big upside. Overall I think we’ll play the same kind of style, which is getting up and down the court.
As a senior, what are you doing differently?
KB: Being more vocal. I’m talking a lot more than I did in the previous years, when I kinda took a back seat to some guys. I’m definitely telling guys where to go and what to do. And offensively, I’m just focused on making better plays and making better decisions instead of taking tough shots. I need to make sure I’m making the right play.
Who is the toughest player to go against in the SEC, and who is the toughest team?
KB: The toughest guy to guard, off the top of my head, is probably B.J. Young at Arkansas. Actually, I better go with two guys, because Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at Georgia is a tough matchup, too. As far as a tough team, Tennessee returns just about everyone from last year, and they were coming on really strong there at the end. They’re going to be really hard to beat.
What’s the best thing about playing for Billy Donovan?
KB: He pushes you. Even when you don’t think you have anything left, he finds different ways to push you. I also like that he stays positive. Overall, he instills a mindset in us that we’re going to have to work hard for everything we do in life.