GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Two years ago, Jacob Kurtz walked into the basketball facilities. The Gators were practicing. A normal student, Kurtz found a manager and asked if he could watch.
Walk-on Jacob Kurtz celebrates a three-pointer late in Florida's 77-44 win over Georgia on Wednesday.
"He sat upstairs and watched practice every single day on the balcony," coach Billy Donovan said.
Eventually, Kurtz started helping out the team managers with little things like laundry and getting things ready for practice. One day, Florida was a little short-handed on players, so Kurtz volunteered to play.
"He asked about trying to go down there and play," Donovan said. "Threw this guy in there and he's not too bad."
On Wednesday night, two years of watching and waiting paid off. Kurtz stepped onto the floor for the Gators with 3:11 to play and Florida up handily.
Minutes later, he got the ball on the right side of the floor. A Georgia defender stepped out to check him, and Kurtz saw his opening.
"I saw the big man closing out, so I pump-faked and he went for it, so I just ran around him," he said. "Nobody stepped up, so I was able to lay it in."
With the crowd roaring and his teammates whooping and hollering on the bench, Kurtz sprinted back down the floor. The Gators got the ball back and marched back down to the other end with the clock inside a minute.
A few passes around and Kurtz, the team's center on the floor, found himself with an open look from beyond the arc.
"The last game they were mad that I passed up a three-point opportunity, so I just took it," he said. "Luckily it went in."
The crowd of 11,366 exploded, and Kurtz took one glance at the sideline. It was a moment he said he won't forget for a long time.
"I looked over there and they were going pretty nuts," he said. "It's a dream come true to play here. Nothing to complain about. It's worth it to practice and put on the jersey every day."
As Florida (11-2, 1-0 SEC) rolled to a 77-44 win over Georgia (6-8, 0-1 SEC), Kurtz beamed with a smile that went from ear to ear.
His patience -- and all the blood, sweat and tears that went with it -- had paid off.
"Just being out there, really just putting on the jersey every day and being a part of Florida basketball with my teammates is worth it."
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