Parsons Stepping Up at the Right Time

Chandler Parsons and Vernon Macklin

The next step for the Gators came when their most versatile player took his game to the next level. Chandler Parsons has pulled down double-figure rebounds in the last six games, and Florida has won five of those. The emergence of the reigning SEC Player of the Week has given the Gators one of the most unique skill sets in the country.

"He's one of the most versatile players I've ever played with in my life," senior center Vernon Macklin said.

Chandler Parsons has averaged 13.5 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the last six games. It doesn't stop there. The senior has also found his stroke from behind the three-point line, shooting 41% (9-22) from behind the arc in the last six games.

The offense has been effective with the ball in Parsons' hands, allowing him to create off the dribble.

"I just realized to let the game come to me," Parsons said. "I'm not just trying to score, but get my teammates shots and our big guys the ball down low."

Early in the season, Parsons struggled. After getting double figures in the first four games, the senior's season looked like it was in the tank. He scored double figures one time in the next nine games and seemed to be forcing the offense.

Part of that could have been forced by off the court issues. He admitted that some of the pressure from off the court got to him. Talks of his future in the NBA and even expectations that talked about him as SEC Player of the Year started to cloud his mind from play on the court.

"There was definitely talk about my future," Parsons said. "You hear that stuff, but you try to block it out and not listen to it. Maybe it did get into my head and maybe it didn't. I just know I'm doing my best to block it all out and play my game."

The game started to slow down near the start of conference play. Parsons saw that he didn't have to dominate every game for his team to win. The Florida defense was playing well enough that the pressure was off him from scoring.

"It came when I understood it wouldn't take me scoring all these points for our team to be good," Parsons said. "Sometimes it may, but I'm doing whatever it takes to win. Lately I've been hitting shots and that's great, but I'm going to do some other things as well."

His teammates are glad to have him back. His play early in the season was similar to his sophomore year, when everyone expected him to make a big jump. The increase in production has finally happened since the Gators opened SEC play.

His ability to control the ball and run the offense makes it easier on point guard Erving Walker, who is more comfortable playing off the ball. Walker can then become the scorer he is best as, and that was clear as he put up 25 points against South Carolina on Wednesday night.

"That's what we've expected from him the whole time with him being 6-10," Walker said. "He's just so versatile because he can pass, shoot and rebound. He's playing with a lot of confidence."

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