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Thursday November 8, 2012 Patric Young's double-homecoming

Updated: 11:56am, November 9

Pat Young JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Patric Young grew up in Jacksonville and was a high school basketball star here.

Since signing with Florida, he’s played against Jacksonville (the university, and lost), and played in Jacksonville (the city, against Rider, and won). Plus, UF is only 90 minutes away from his home and family, so what’s another homecoming, right?

“Yeah, but this one’s a battleship,” Young said. “That’ll be pretty cool.”

That was Young’s initial thoughts when the Navy/Marine Corps Classic against Georgetown was announced in July. He was excited then and got even more fired up to find the 10th-ranked Gators will have their off-site practice for the game at Providence Christian, where Young starred in high school and was a McDonald’s All-American (photo below).

“Yeah, that’s cool, too,” he said.

Good stuff, yes, but you know what Billy Donovan and his coaching staff would think is cool? Really cool? Young taking the next logical step in his development and upping his rebound productivity.

A lot.

Last season, the 6-foot-9, 260-pounder averaged 6.4 rebounds per game. That was second on the team behind 6-3 guard Bradley Beal (6.6 rg), the third overall pick in the NBA draft, and just ahead of 6-7 backup forward Will Yeguete (6.3 pg).

Every NBA scout that looks at Young -- and that body -- thinks a Dwight Howard Lite (though not that lite), but this is the year Young needs to use that remarkable physique to carve out space in the low post, clear out bodies, chase sky rebounds, and score more than 10.5 points per game.

And he needs to do it night in, night out -- and that includes at practice every day.

Pat at Prov“It was probably easier for a guy like Brad last year to get rebounds, cause most [teams] aren’t trying to block out [wing players] -- and I’m getting killed down there on box outs, and so it’s hard sometimes to squeeze one or two out,” Young said. “But it’s all about willpower and not giving up. I just need to want the ball more than the other guy.”

Friday against the Hoyas, a program for years renowned for its relentlessness and toughness around the basket, would be a good time to start.

Right up the road from home.

“The people in Jacksonville who really know Patric have incredible respect for the kind of kid he is,” Donovan said. “This is great for Patric, to play on this ship in such a unqiue and prestigious game.”

Young, probably more than any Florida player, holds the key to the team getting off to a great start, especially with forward Casey Prather out with a concussion and Scottie Wilbekin, a heady, smart player who is very good at boxing out, suspended for the Georgetown game and maybe more.

Ideal venue, unique stage and fitting locale to make a statement to himself, his teammates and college basketball.

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