Updated: Friday, Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m.
Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin will not be the only Florida Gators basketball player suspended to start the 2013-14 season as head coach Billy Donovan announced Thursday that redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith and redshirt junior center Damontre Harris – both transfers that sat out the 2012-13 campaign – have also been suspended indefinitely for violations of team rules.
Donovan said all three players will sit out Friday’s exhibition game against Florida Southern and have their suspensions include regular-season games.
Three separate sources, including two close to the program and one close to the player, told OnlyGators.com separately over the last three months that Wilbekin will be suspended for a maximum of six games. He may have the opportunity to reduce the overall number of game he misses based on a variety of factors.
Finney-Smith and Harris will also miss at least one regular-season game but should both be back on the court sooner than Wilbekin, who violated team rules for the second time in a seven-month span back in June.
“There’s some things that they need to do as well, and hopefully they will do it, and then we’ll see how that translates going forward. … A lot is going to depend on how those guys handle themselves,” said Donovan on Thursday.
The absence of all three players from Florida’s opening-night roster leaves the Gators with just four completely healthy scholarship players in seniors F Casey Prather and C Patric Young, sophomore guard DeVon Walker and freshman PG Kasey Hill.
“Those are the only four guys that have been constants every day,” Donovan noted. “Almost every day, it’s a different allotment of guys.”
Senior F Will Yeguete (knee), junior G Eli Carter (leg) and sophomore G Dillon Graham (ankle) are each hobbled by injuries and questionable for the Nov. 8 opener against North Florida. Sophomore G Michael Frazier II was recently diagnosed with mononucleosis and has already been ruled out for the game.
Carter, who Donovan said looked “labored” while running with a limp despite being fully healthy and cleared, will play in Friday’s exhibition game. It is believed that Graham will be able to suit up as well. Yeguete will be able to make the call on his own availability as he did not feel like he would be ready to play earlier in the week.
“I’m going to talk to him before [tip-off] to see where he’s at mentally,” said Donovan.
Walks-ons redshirt junior Billy Donovan and junior Jacob Kurtz are expected to see action as reserves, though the younger Donovan is also dealing with an injury of his own after tearing the labrum in his shoulder back in August. He decided to forgo surgery and play the entire season with a brace instead.
Kurtz may even wind up starting Friday, according to Donovan.
“We’re just trying to go with the guys we know are going to be available, going to be there to play,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of different health issues. From day to day, it’s really been very, very different for all of our guys.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Harris missed a couple days of practice this week with the flu.
» On the state of the team: “Right now, we’re not a very good team. … We’re not the same team you looked at on paper before the season started. … Our team is not that team that is on paper. … I would say we’re not even remotely close to being 10 in the country right now.”
» On how Hill has looked in practice: “By far the best thing I love about him is he’s really, really coachable. He’s a great kid. He’s eager to learn. He’s got incredible humility. He’s a great teammates. I think the basketball piece, in terms of his skill on the floor, he’ll only get better through experiences. … He’s been really, really impressive to me with his attitude.”
» On what Kurtz brings to the table: “First thing, he’s a really good player. … He’s not the most talented, athletically-gifted guy, but he’s really smart. He knows exactly what’s going on, everything that we’re doing. He’s a really good passer. He’s extremely reliable. He’s got a very, very high basketball IQ; if not the highest on our team, one of the highest on our team. I really, really trust him is probably the best thing I could say. I know that if I put him out there, he’s not going to take shots he can’t make. He’s not going to do things he’s not capable of doing. And he’s going to grab some offensive rebounds, he’s going to be in the right spots defensively, he’s going to take a charge, he’s going to do a lot of different things that make our team better.”
» On how Walker has improved: “The one thing that’s been great with DeVon is I have really noticed he’s made a huge jump from last year to this year. He’s physically stronger. He’s done some good things. … Even with a full allotment of players, he’s going to earn himself into some type of role this year. That would be my feeling.”
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