College Basketball Nation: Scottie Wibelkin

Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the SEC, click here.

Five freshmen to watch in the league ...

Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: He is the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, the early favorite for 2013's No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, and the centerpiece of another massive talent haul for coach John Calipari and the Wildcats. He is purportedly one of the best shot-blockers we've seen enter the college stage in years -- including predecessor Anthony Davis. If Noel is even 75 percent as good as that, the Wildcats will be a defensive force yet again.

Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin, Kentucky: I didn't want to make this entire list Kentucky's recruiting class, nor did I want to exclude Poythress and Goodwin, both of whom are worthy of your attention next season. Poythress will bring athleticism and rim-attacking rebounding from the wing. Goodwin is a polished, multifaceted scorer. Both will start, and both will be crucial to Calipari from the outset.

Devonta Pollard, Alabama: The No. 28-ranked player in the Class of 2012, Pollard has drawn rave reviews from scouts, and comparisons to Travis Outlaw, for his end-to-end athletic ability. He'll have to round out his offensive game, but he'll be a tremendous cog in Anthony Grant's defense-first system.

Braxton Ogbueze, Florida: Four-year guard Erving Walker graduated, and conveniently enough, Florida coach Billy Donovan has the No. 7-ranked point guard in the 2012 class signed up to fill the spot. Ogbueze could see starter's minutes right away, or he could fill in behind Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin. Either way, the Gators' backcourt is in fine shape.

Jordan Price, Auburn: After a rather brutal 15-16 season, Auburn coach Tony Barbee desperately needed an infusion of talent. Price and forward Shaquille Johnson, both top-100 players, will help immediately.

Gators to feature revamped frontcourt

July, 1, 2011
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While much of the offseason buzz in the SEC has gone to Kentucky, it is Florida that is the defending regular-season champion in the conference. The Gators return their high-scoring backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton from their Elite Eight team, providing them with invaluable experience in the lineup.

But who will come up big for Florida in the frontcourt now that Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Alex Tyus are now in the pros?

“It’s going to be a little bit of a different team for us than it has been the last two years just because we pretty much lost our entire starting frontcourt,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who last week saw Parsons and Macklin get selected in the second round of the NBA draft.

That means Patric Young, the former McDonald’s All-American who showed flashes of his potential as a freshman, can expect to step into the lineup and play an important role. It also means uncertainty as the status of forwards Cody Larson and Erik Murphy remains unclear.

They are suspended while facing burglary charges, and due to the ongoing investigation, Donovan isn’t commenting much on them other than to say they are enrolled in summer school.

The Gators have some other intriguing pieces as well that will give Donovan plenty of options when forming a rotation. Incoming freshman guard Brad Beal is ESPNU’s No. 4-ranked recruit. Mike Rosario will be eligible after transferring in from Rutgers. Scottie Wilbekin also will continue to fight for playing time in the crowded backcourt.

“It’s a young team that I think has got a great attitude.” Donovan said.
Last week, Florida announced that Scottie Wibelkin, a 6-foot-2 junior point guard from Gainesville, Fla. would be doing something very few high school prospects do. Pending grades and the SAT, Wibelkin would be graduating from high school after his junior year and enrolling at Florida a year earlier than expected. Wibelkin was a 2011 recruit; now he's a 2010.

Wibelkin's addition won't be a game-changer for Florida. He's a good player, but he's not among ESPNU's top 100 recruits for 2011. The real story here is less about Wibelkin and more about this trend. In the future, will other players do this? Is entering college early the new hotness?

Of course, one player doesn't make a trend. But Wibelkin isn't the first hoops player to try this. Last year, Duke recruit Andre Dawkins -- more of an impact recruit than Wibelkin, to be sure -- did the same thing, enrolling at Duke a year earlier than either the Blue Devils or Dawkins had previously expected. Dawkins had an OK year at Duke. He started off very well before his minutes dwindled during the ACC regular season. But the point is that it's been done before, this early entry thing, and it'll be done again. Does that make it a viable strategy, one other players can emulate?

The strategy, in so far as it exists, makes sense. An extra year of high school basketball isn't going to markedly improve a prospect for the next level, so if a recruit can graduate early, get on campus a year earlier, and get his first couple of seasons of college hoops out of the way, he can get into the NBA earlier and become a slightly more intriguing prospect -- NBA teams love that extra year of youth, don't they? -- than he would have been before. It makes sense.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on whether this is something you think shouldn't happen in the first place) this isn't a strategy most players will be able to replicate. It's hard to graduate from high school in three years. It's hard to get ready for the SAT in time to take it early, and it's hard to get the grades in on time, and it's hard to focus on a high-level basketball career while doing both. Some recruits might be able to pull it off. Few will. More will stay for their senior years of high school even if they don't want to -- and if I were in high school, I'd want to stay for my senior year, basketball career or not. High school is fun. (OK, so high school is never as fun as people remember. High school was just OK. But that doesn't mean you want to miss your senior year.)

In other words, Wibelkin and Dawkins do not make a trend. Will more players do this? Yeah. Will it be enough to change college basketball? Probably not.

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