MAYPORT, Fla. -- In the belly of the USS Bataan, UF coach Billy Donovan made official Thursday the suspension of junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, citing violation of team policy.
Wilbekin, who was set to enter the 2012-13 season as the playmaking heir to Erving Walker, met with Donovan earlier in the day and told he would not make the trip to Naval Station Mayport to face Georgetown Friday night for much-anticipated opener on the battleship in the Navy/Marine Corps Classic.
“How long it lasts, I don’t know,” Donovan said of the suspension. “Right now, I felt like he didn’t need to be here on this trip.”
According to the coach, some information was made available to him minutes before the team boarded the bus to Jacksonville. That's when the decision was made.
As for details behind the ban, Donovan provided none in fairness to Wilbekin, who starred at The Rock School in Gainesville and had waited patiently the last two seasons for the opportunity to run the team.
“It can get to a point where a really, really good kid is portrayed in a poor way,” Donovan said of speculation behind the suspension. “Scottie is a great kid who made some choices and did some things that I’m not going to be a part of.”
The loss of Wilbekin, who figured to up his averages of 2.5 points and 1.4 rebound considerably as a starter, further depletes a UF roster that already lost forward Casey Prather to a concussion earlier this week and backup forward/center Cody Larson, who quit the team last week.
It also takes away the team's best on-ball defender against a Hoyas team known for its physicality.
Senior Kenny Boynton will slide from his normal shooting guard position to play the point spot, but whether that means the 10th-ranked Gators will roll out a freshman -- probably Michael Frazier -- and maintain their three-rotation or deploy backup forward Will Yeguete to start in the frontcourt are dilemmas Donovan said his team would discuss.
“The biggest thing for me,” Donovan said, “whoever is playing needs to understand their responsibility.”