Center Patric Young likes to call them the Core Four. The Florida Gators' four seniors have been the backbone of a record-setting team that heads into this week's Sweet 16 hoping to join the iconic '04s of Joakim Noah and Al Horford as national champions. Collectively, the winningest senior class in school history has proven to be greater than the sum of its parts. Yet, one member of the Core Four, senior power forward Will Yeguete, has operated in the shadows more than others. Following Saturday's 61-45 win against Pittsburgh, Yeguete might not be able to hide any longer. "He's invaluable," Young said. "You can't put a price tag on how important this guy is to our team. We're not the same team without him." Yeguete lifted the Gators whenever he was on the floor and stood his ground all day against the physical Panthers inside game. While Young struggled to 0 of 5 shooting during the first half, Yeguete had two key early baskets as the team's traded the lead eight times in the first 13 minutes. As the Gators began to establish control during the second half, Yeguete stole the ball from Pitt star Lamar Patterson and found senior forward Casey Prather with a behind-the-back pass for a layup to ignite a pro-Gators, sellout Amway Center crowd. "I knew Casey was there," Yegeute said. During his four years at UF, Yeguete has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, even if the stat sheet does not always reflect it. Yeguete's eight points Saturday were more than he had scored his previous three games (five points) and the most since Feb. 8 against Alabama. But the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Yeguete's defense, rebounding, interior passing and effort has been vital during a 28-game winning streak. "It's hard to find guys that really kind of [hang] their hat on being kind of a dirty-work guy," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "He's not our headline guy. But he really does a lot for our team." Young long has been the face of the Gators' inside game; Prather is the team's leading scorer known for his highlight-reel dunks; and senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had a team-high 21 points against Pitt, continues to establish himself as one of college basketball most valuable players. Yeguete's impact has been more subtle, but his importance never has been more evident than the 2013 postseason. When a minor knee surgery sidelined Yeguete early last February, the Gators were one of the nation's best defensive teams. When Yeguete returned, he was not 100 percent. Meanwhile, UF had lost some its edge and much of its momentum entering tournament play.
Will Yeguete 'impacts winning' for Sweet 16-bound Gators
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Mar 25