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Gators dominate SEC honors

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GAINESVILLE -- No. 1 Florida was perfect during the 2014 Southeastern Conference regular season (18-0) and it resulted in nearly a sweep of the league's end-of-season awards.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was named the SEC Player of the Year, while coach Billy Donovan collected his second straight SEC Coach of the Year honor, the league announced Tuesday.

“I was happy. My parents were really happy," said Wilbekin, who is averaging 12.9 points, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game for the top-ranked Gators. 

"I’m just more happy for our team to see all the other people who got rewards on our team. I think it’s a reflection of how good this team is and how good we played during the regular season to see this many of us get awards. …  I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates, Coach D believing in me and Jeremy Foley giving me a second chance."

But the awards didn't stop there.

Senior center Patric Young was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and became the league's first three-time recipient of the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

"I’m grateful to my teammates for playing such terrible defense so I could pick up the slack," Young quipped.

"It’s just nice to be recognized for doing the right things by all the coaches on the committee and the people that voted me to win this award.”

Added Donovan: "I think [Young] represents, in my opinion, what college athletics is all about. His education is very, very important to him; going to class is very important to him; he's very active on campus; he's very active in the community. He's got a great personality. I think he, maybe more so than anybody that's ever been in this program, has taken full advantage of everything on this campus and what it has to offer."

Meanwhile, sophomore transfer Dorian Finney-Smith was named the SEC Sixth Man of the Year in his first season with the Gators.

Finney-Smith is averaging a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game to go along with 9.4 points per contest. 

Not to be forgotten, UF's leading scorer (1.46 ppg) senior swingman Casey Prather was named an All-SEC first-team performer. Wilbekin (first-team) and Young (second-team) were also All-SEC selections.

"We come together as a team and do what we need to do each and every night," Prather said. "As far as little things, hustle plays, rebounding, it’s a collective effort between us and not just like individuals.”

The Gators' five (of six) year-end awards is a school record for Florida, with Wilbekin joining Chandler Parsons (2011) as UF's only other SEC Player of the Year recepient.

"I mentioned this to our guys, and I really, really think this, any individual honor to me is just a reflection on your team," Donovan said Monday.  "And whatever awards are given out or whatever honors are given out to any of our guys, I think they would be the first one to say, 'Without my teammates this would not have been possible.'"

Donovan, a two-time national champion (2006, 2007), collected his third coach of the year award in four seasons, but Florida's stoic leader pointed the honor back towards his team.

"I don't think those awards would happen if I had a bunch of bad players on my team," he said.

********** SEC AWARDS **********

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Scottie Wilbekin (Florida)

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Patric Young (Florida)

SIXTH-MAN OF THE YEAR: Dorian Finney-Smith (Florida)

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Julius Randle (Kentucky)

COACH OF THE YEAR: Billy Donovan (Florida)

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Patric Young (Florida)

ALL-SEC FIRST TEAM: Prather, Wilbekin (Florida); Trevor Releford (Alabama); Randle (Kentucky); Johnny O’Bryant III (LSU); Jabari Brown (Missouri); Jordan McRae, Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee).

ALL-SEC SECOND TEAM: Young (Florida); Bobby Portis (Arkansas); Chris Denson (Auburn); Charles Mann (Georgia); James Young (Kentucky); Jordan Mickey (LSU); Marshal Henderson, Jarvis Summers (Ole Miss); Jordan Clarkson (Missouri); Rod Odom (Vanderbilt).

ALL-SEC DEFENSIVE TEAM: Young, Wilbekin (Florida); Mickey (LSU); Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky); Josh Richardson (Tennessee).

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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Congrats and keep going all the way.
Go Gators!!

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