With just one day until the Florida Gators‘ 2012-13 basketball season gets underway, the first half of OGGOA‘s series – The Countdown – takes a look at those scholarship players on the roster wearing jerseys ranging from No. 33-11.
10 – Dorian Finney-Smith (Portsmouth, VA)
Sophomore transfer forward
6’8” 205 lbs.
Quick Bio/2011-12 Season: A former four-star recruit and the No. 31 overall player in the country, Finney-Smith spent his freshman season playing for Virginia Tech. He made 30 starts and played in all 33 of his team’s games, averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. For his efforts, Finney-Smith was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team. He chose Florida over a list of possible destinations including Memphis, Louisville and Iowa State. He is from the same town as Vernon Macklin; the two are friends.
2012-13 Outlook: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Finney-Smith will be ineligible to play this season and will instead take a redshirt. He will, however, be able to practice with the Gators. “I think Dodo is a guy that creates a level of competitiveness,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “Dodo’s played in the ACC, so he has an idea [of what it takes to play at this level].”
5 – Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL)
Junior point guard
6’2” 176 lbs.
Quick Bio: A two-star recruit coming out of high school, Wilbekin skipped his senior season and accepted a scholarship to UF as a junior. A lifelong Florida fan, Wilbekin proved to be a capable backup point guard as a freshman. He posted the best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team (2.2), led the Gators in assists five times, earned one start and was the first player to come off of the bench in 16 of the team’s games.
2011-12 Season: Wilbekin again backed up Erving Walker at point guard but had a much more impressive campaign, improving his shooting by 10 percent and three-point shooting by nearly 20 percent. He only averaged 2.6 points, 1.6 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game but shot 45.7 percent from downtown and proved that he could be a capable player for Florida.
2012-13 Outlook: Moving into the starting lineup, Wilbekin is being counted on to play the majority of the minutes at point guard even though he will be spelled at times. Donovan praised the way he played during fall practice, noting that the team is going to try to take advantage of his size and athleticism. “In practice I’ve been shooting a lot more than I did the last two years. It’s coming pretty natural,” Wilbekin said a few weeks ago. Donovan was not so keen on Wilbekin one day before the team’s season opener as he learned of some news early in the morning and decided to suspend him indefinitely beginning with Friday’s game against Georgetown. Donovan said Wilbekin feels remorse for his mistake, and the coach expects the player to be better in the long run when he learns to take responsibility for his actions.
Read about FOUR more players in The Countdown…after the break!
4 – Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL)
6’9” 249 lbs.
Quick Bio: A 2010 McDonald’s All-American, Parade Magazine second-team All-American and a five-star recruit out of high school, Young was the Gators’ top recruit three years ago. With a veteran frontcourt set as starters, he served as the primary reserve, playing 17.8 minutes per game off the bench and averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds while also blocking a team-high 31 shots. That effort earned him a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. He even had an opportunity to leave school early but decided to return for his sophomore season
2011-12 Season: Moving into a starting role in his second year, Young became Florida’s primary frontcourt presence. His size, strength and athleticism made him tough to defend, but his offensive game was once again a work in progress. He averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 boards and shot a team-high 61.8 percent from the floor in 26.5 minutes per game. Young was dominant at times but also showcased some inconsistency, which made him less effective during long stretches on the court.
2012-13 Outlook: Young has a big-time chance to shine during his junior season, and head coach Billy Donovan said he has improved in a number of areas in which he struggled previously. “I think Patric really learned a lot,” he said. “He learned a lot about his conditioning, about how hard it was for him to sustain intensity for a long period of time. … The biggest thing for Patric in all this stuff is mentally being in the right place to be able to deal with the confrontation every day of pushing himself to go to the next step physically.” Young will once again start at center for the Gators and will be counted on even more as a part of Florida’s shallow frontcourt. Donovan wants him to get his rebounding numbers up while concentrating on cleaning up things around the basket and being a dominant offensive presence deep in the post.
3 – Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ)
Redshirt senior guard
6’3” 183 lbs.
Quick Bio: A four-star recruit out of high school who signed with Rutgers and played there for two years, Rosario was just the second sophomore in team history to hit 1,000 career points. He was named a freshman All-American and Big East All-Rookie in his first when he set the team’s all-time freshman scoring mark with 517 points. As a sophomore, Rosario scored 16.7 points per game and led Rutgers in scoring 19 times with 28 double-digit scoring games and nine games in which he posted 20 or more points. He transferred to Florida one year ago and sat out the 2010-11 season.
2011-12 Season: Rosario was expected to be a big-time contributor for Florida during the first year he was eligible to play. Instead, a combination of injuries, off-court issues and lack of on-court consistency held him to 31 game appearances and 14.4 minutes per game. He averaged nearly a turnover per contest and scored just 6.6 points on 43 percent shooting.
2012-13 Outlook: Said to have made major personal improvements over the summer while practicing with and playing for the Puerto Rico National Team, Rosario earned a starting spot in the exhibition game due to improved behavior, accountability and responsibility. “Mike has done a good job. As far as my trust level for him on the court, I think it’s growing and growing because he’s taking care of his responsibilities. I think the biggest thing right now for him that he needs to take care of on the court when he’s got to get better is just his carelessness with the ball at times. I think sometimes he’s too loose and too lax,” Donovan said. “In terms of him playing hard, being here every day, not missing practice, his attitude, trying to be a positive guy each and every day, how he’s trying to play the game, things he’s doing, I think are things that I’m kind of expecting out of him right now.” If Rosario can do those things, he can hold down the starting role given to him by Donovan. If he plays like he did in the exhibition game, when he committed numerous turnovers, looked sloppy and forced Donovan to say “he thinks his foot is part of his hand,” his starting role and minutes will be gone quickly.
2 – Damontre Harris (Fayetteville, NC)
Junior transfer forward/center
6’10” 228 lbs.
Quick Bio: A former four-star recruit and the No. 64 overall player in the country, Finney-Smith spent the first two years of his career playing for South Carolina. He decided to leave when the administration fired his head coach and joined Florida due to having a previous recruiting relationship with Donovan. He fills a major position of need for the Gators and was an important and effective player for the Gamecocks for the past two seasons. Harris averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game his sophomore season while shooting 55 percent from the field and 80.4 percent from the free throw line.
2012-13 Outlook: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Harris will be ineligible to play this season and will instead take a redshirt. Like Finney-Smith, he was set to practice with Florida but unfortunately tore his labrum a few weeks ago and was forced to undergo surgery. Harris was expected to be a big help for Young in practice as the big man would be able to improve by going up against a capable opponent. Instead, Young will once again practice against undersized players as Harris will not be able to have contact on the court for 4-6 months.
1 – Kenny Boynton (Pompano Beach, FL)
6’2” 190 lbs.
Quick Bio: The No. 3 leading scorer in Florida high school basketball history and a five-star recruit, Boynton was a McDonald’s All-American and Parade All-American who was honored with a SEC All-Freshman nomination in 2009-10. He led UF in scoring his first year and posted a team-high 27 points against BYU in the NCAA Tournament that year. Boynton only shot 37.6 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three in his first season but still managed to be an important part of Florida’s team. He returned as a starter the next year and improved his shooting slightly while averaging 14.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Boynton also scored in the double digits in each of Florida’s last 16 contests that season including every tournament game.
2011-12 Season: Boynton became a much better shooter in his third season, jumping up to 44 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. He averaged a career-high 15.9 points per game, matched a career-best with 2.6 boards per contest and a nearly 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, his best in three seasons. His scoring led the Gators and he also became the second player in team history to hit more than 100 three-pointers in a single season.
2011-12 Outlook: Now in his final year with Florida, Boynton is on pace to become the program leader in starts, minutes, points and three-pointers (he can also set records in a number of other categories). He is the unquestioned veteran and senior leader of the team and has taken to his newfound obligation nicely. “It’s hard to believe that he’s a senior. I remember recruiting him vividly. It just seems like yesterday,” Donovan said. This is his last year. “He’s come in and been a starter from day one. He’s made a great impact in our program. He’s helped us achieved a lot of success. And I’m going to enjoy coaching him because he’s a guy I’m going to miss coaching someday.” Boynton was named a preseason First Team All-SEC member by the media and will also play more point guard this season as he hopes to round out his game and have a future playing professionally in the United States. “Like any of these guys, the goal at the end of this process to have an opportunity to play in the NBA. Certainly, I think for Kenny that’s an opportunity,” Donovan said. “Kenny has been one those kind of quiet leaders where he doesn’t say a whole lot. I think a lot of times it’s done through how he performs and how hard he plays. … I’d like to see him obviously be more vocal but at the same point I don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s uncomfortable being who he has been or who he wants to be.”