Posted: 12:34 p.m. Monday, June 10, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
With Florida basketball's announcement that Scottie Wilbekin has again been suspended for a violation of team rules, it seems that the Gators defender most likely to rip meat off a bone has once again found himself in Billy Donovan's doghouse.
Scottie Wilbekin has been suspended indefinitely (violation of team rules).— Gator M-Basketball (@GatorZoneMBK) June 10, 2013
If this seems familiar to you, it should: Wilbekin was also suspended "indefinitely" for a violation of team rules before the 2012-13 season, and ended up missing three games before his reinstatement. Florida went 2-0 in the two full games it played without Wilbekin, and earned a big victory over Wisconsin without the junior who would become Florida's starting point guard, but Wilbekin actually missed parts of three games, thanks to the cancellation of the Gators' game with Georgetown on the U.S.S. Bataan.
It would be reasonable to suspect a suspension of at least that length in 2013-14 — especially if you believe the theory that Wilbekin missing "three" games qualified as the 10 percent of a season a Florida athlete loses for a second positive drug test, because a third positive test costs an athlete 20 percent of the games in a season.
Florida is scheduled to play 31 regular-season games in 2013-14, assuming 18 SEC contests to go with 13 non-conference games, and missing six or seven would get Wilbekin to or over the theoretical 20 percent threshold. This would mean missing the first month of Florida's season, including a return trip to Wisconsin — but it would get Wilbekin back on the court right in time for the Gators' ridiculous three-game stretch in December that features a road trip to Connecticut, a home date against Kansas (and Andrew Wiggins), and a game against Memphis in Madison Square Garden.
Either way, an announcement of a suspension now rather than on the eve of the season suggests that Wilbekin has some time to work back into Donovan's good graces, and that incoming freshman Kasey Hill will be even more important than previously expected for Florida this fall. If Wilbekin misses games in the fall, as he well might, Florida will certainly suffer without his suffocating defense, but Hill's talents make him the best point guard recruit Donovan has ever gotten, and he's got the gamer's mentality necessary to respond well to adversity.
I hope Wilbekin doesn't end up missing games, but my reading of the tea leaves here suggests that this is likely an "indefinite" suspension of a certain length, and that he will. More than anything else, though, I hope Wilbekin realizes that his status as a team leader and possible player for a national championship team and his potential to play as a pro if his defense continues to improve are both rather negatively impacted by getting suspended from team activities. I like Scottie, and I want to see him succeed. This isn't success.