"We love the silence," Casey Prather said, after Florida silenced the Rupp Arena crowd in the Gators' first win at Kentucky in years in February 2014.
On Thursday night, that's all the Gators' NBA hopefuls heard.
Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, and Patric Young — along with Will Yeguete, who has returned to France, and is, by all appearances, not pursuing a professional career in the NBA — won 120 games and three SEC titles at Florida, while anchoring a senior class that never missed the Elite Eight and went to the 2014 Final Four, but all three players went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Young, the biggest snub, was thought of as a likely second-rounder, especially after he produced at a remarkably consistent level over his final three years, averaging about 10 points and six rebounds in all three seasons. But concerns about Young's relative lack of height for the center position, lack of wingspan, and lack of offensive game likely helped keep him from hearing his name called.
Prather and Wilbekin were less surprising omissions. Prather came into his own as a junior and senior, becoming a slashing terror deployed beautifully in Florida's offense, but is likely too small to play small forward at the NBA level and lacks an NBA shooting guard's tough. Wilbekin, as tough as point guards get, didn't do anything but play tenacious defense at an NBA level, and lacks great size or athleticism; if he catches on, it will be by impressing in camp.
The good news for all three is that they will have some control over their futures now, at least in choosing from likely offers to play on NBA teams' Summer League squads and potentially play their ways into a contract. But that's cold comfort, surely.
They did great things at Florida, as we well know, and we will love them for that forever. But they had to move on, eventually, and I'm heartbroken for Pat, Casey, and Scottie because their first step was a faulty one, perhaps through no fault of their own, and that makes it a little more difficult to make an NBA career happen.
I still believe they'll live the dreams of playing pro ball, especially Young.
But having drreams deferred has to hurt.