The best player on the Gators is not their leading scorer or their second leading scorer. It's not their senior or their center. It is a guy who came to UF to carry the bags for his more famous friend, and has worked his ass off, becoming the most crucial part of the Gator offense.
The emergence of Chandler Parsons has been extraordinary. Given a starting role after sickness and lack of ability forced Dan Werner to the bench, Parsons has become the straw that stirs the drink. If he struggles or cannot get open, Florida will lose. That is why tonight against Auburn and hopefully tomorrow against Mississippi State, the Gators need to get Parsons touches.
You could make the case Parsons isn't that impressive. His scoring has gone from 9.2 to 11.9ppg, but his minutes increased from 26 to 30 per game. However, since last season, his field goal, free throw and three-point percentages have all gone up. Parsons is shooting 50% (4% higher), 36% from the arc (6% higher) and made huge gains in free throw shooting (56% to 67%). You would think with more minutes, those numbers would fall. Parsons is also averaging 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
The increased numbers for Parsons also means increased attention. Since being locked down at the end of the Georgia game when he had to give up a chance for a game winner to the wide open Werner, Parsons is 3-10 shooting. Against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, Parsons had no chances, and the result was hoping Erving Walker would step up. Two losses followed and now UF is in the position of possibly winning the next two games to get to the NCAA Tournament.
Against Auburn on February 18, Parsons led UF with 17 points in the 78-70 win. It may take another 17 tonight for Florida to move on in the SEC Tournament.