ESPN's Insider has named the Florida basketball backcourt the best backcourt in the nation ($). No, really:
1. Florida Last season, Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton were the leading scorers on an underrated Gators team that scored 1.12 points per possession against the SEC and came within an overtime period of making the Final Four. Both players are back in Gainesville this season. Walker almost single-handedly willed Billy Donovan's team to the win over UCLA in the NCAA tournament's round of 32. Boynton's 3-point shooting (33 percent last season) still isn't where it "should" be for an 82 percent free throw shooter, but perhaps the junior can draw inspiration from former Ohio State perimeter ace Jon Diebler. After all, both Boynton and Diebler started their college careers making just 29 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc as freshmen. This season, Boynton and Walker will be joined by transfer Mike Rosario (who averaged 16.4 ppg in two years at Rutgers) and 6-3 shooting guard Bradley Beal, who stands a fair chance of someday being the first freshman on this list to hear his name called out by David Stern. (Beal's competition for this honor may well come from Austin Rivers, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist.)
That's quite an honor. Is it deserved?
Hard as it is to agree with praise about Walker and Boynton, who drive me absolutely insane with their shot selection even on their best days, John Gasaway, the author of the Insider piece and a fixture at Basketball Prospectus, knows what he's talking about. And while Boynton's got serious selectivity issues compared to Diebler, Gasaway's right to note that he could improve.
The other thing about this that I forget about: Bradley Beal may be Donovan's first one-and-done since Donnell Harvey, but Rosario was an excellent if inefficient (Rosario shot under 40% from the field in each of his two years) scorer at Rutgers. And the other thing that Gasaway doesn't even mention: Scottie Wilbekin, who goes from being remarkably young to a remarkably young sophomore, was playing great basketball for these Gators at the end of last season.
So yes, Florida will have a deep and promising backcourt in the 2011-12 season. Better than any other in the country, including Duke's, Kentucky's, and North Carolina's? I'm not so sure. But it is nice to reminded that this team will have strengths.