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Gators center Patric Young to return for junior season

Already a projected first-round draft pick before he ever set foot on the floor of the O'Connell Center, Florida center Patric Young has faced questions about when his time at Florida would be up before it ever really began.

With the Gators in the midst of last week's Southeastern Conference Tournament, it hardly seemed a fitting time to discuss his future. But Young did just that following Florida's second-round win against Alabama in New Orleans.

While fielding a question about winning the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year award, Young said he couldn't wait to come back and win it again next year. Afterward, I followed up with him.

You said you want Scholar Athlete of the Year again next year, that means you’re coming back, right?

"Yeah"

100 percent?

"Yeah. I don’t know – Brad (Beal has) got a 3.9 (GPA) right now, so I gotta worry about him. Hopefully it'll stay within Florida’s hands though"

Do you think both of you will be back next year?

"I’ll be back. I don’t know about Brad, but I hope he is"

So 100 percent, I'm going to quote you on this, you’re back?

Yeah, I’m back next year.

I posted the news on Twitter, but with stories to file by deadline, I hurried back to the media room to start writing without following up further. The next day, Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post asked Young to clarify why he made the decision to return to school for the 2012-13 season. This time, he was somewhat noncommital, saying, "I really haven't thought about it because the season's not over yet."

But today, during a post-practice session with the media, Young reportedly confirmed to Lieser that he intends to come back, thus ending the Dwight Howard-esque back and forth of the past week.

So there you have it. The Gators will have their big man back next season.

For Beal, the decision will not be made until the season is over. The deadline to declare for the NBA Draft is April 10.

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