“Nobody really knew who he was when we first heard of him.”
Kasey Hill looks back on what he thought of Coach White once he heard his new coach’s name after Billy Donovan left for the Oklahoma City Thunder. But as Coach White’s first season went on, the players started to get more comfortable with him.
And that led to the players being as comfortable in the system as they are now.
Kasey Hill, a senior point guard for the Gators, has had a long career with the team. Hill was a part of the team that made the Final Four in the 2013-2014 season, and also was with coach Donovan before he left the team. So it’s no surprise he has emerged as a leader for this Gator team looking to reach the Elite Eight for the fifth time in seven years.
When Hill first came to Florida, he was a fast and scrappy guard who was an offensive force. His freshman year, the team made it to the Final Four. Soon, he would find out how quick things could change for a team in the NCAA. The next season, the Gators went 16-17 and missed tournament play for the first time in 17 years.
Then after that, Donovan announced his move to the NBA, accepting the head coaching job with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team had to find its new identity under coach Mike White, and after one year of the team learning the system, and being more comfortable, the team is in the Sweet Sixteen preparing to play Wisconsin in Madison Square Garden. Hill had to make a turnaround in his playing style, moving from being a complete offensive force, to a defending force, and one of the best defending guards in the NCAA.
Return to the Tournament
This year, the team turned it around behind Hill’s leadership. They went 14-4 in the regular season and came in a 4th-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The team started the tournament against East Tennessee State University, winning 80-65. Hill finished the game with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
In the round of 32, Florida played defensive powerhouse Virginia. Hill only had 3 points in 1-4 shooting, but his value was seen on defense. Virginia’s guards could not score against Hill, with Virginia’s guards combining to go 2-16 shooting against the Gators.
Now, they play against Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen in New York City. Wisconsin came in an 8-seed, but Wisconsin upset Villanova in the previous round, so this will not be an easy game.
Hill says he is excited to play in Madison Square Garden and try to get a win. Hill also has high hopes for this team to continue in the tournament, even saying that this team is better than the one that reached the Final Four in his freshman year.
Wisconsin Up Next
This Friday, Kasey Hill and the Gators play the Wisconsin Badgers. The game is at Madison Square Garden in New York City, at 10 p.m. on TBS.