Forward Dorian Finney-Smith to return to Florida Gators for fifth season

The Florida Gators on Thursday announced that forward Dorian Finney-Smith has decided to remain with the team for his redshirt senior season.

“I got all the information I needed to make a decision,” said Finney-Smith after meeting with head coach Billy Donovan, according to a release on the school’s website. “He didn’t pressure me into anything, but rather let me be a grown man. Coach D is a mentor to me, I trust him and I’m happy and anxious to have another year with him.”

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Report: Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan seriously considering NBA jump amid interest

Following up on a comment he made in a March column, ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein expanded on his reporting Thursday, noting that Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan is giving serious consideration to moving on from college to coaching in the NBA as soon as next season.

According to Stein, who is citing league sources, NBA executives have been led to believe that Donovan is “looking to make the jump to the NBA more than ever before.”

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Florida coach Billy Donovan extended one year through 2019-20, average salary of $4 million

For the second time in as many seasons, the Florida Gators have extended the contract of two-time national championship-winning head basketball coach Billy Donovan with the parties signing a new deal in December.

According to The Gainesville Sun, which obtained the contract information through an open records request, Donovan’s revised deal runs through the 2019-20 campaign and will average $4 million per year. Florida confirmed the contract extension on Thursday.

Donovan reportedly earned $4.2 million in 2014-15, will bring home $3.9 million in 2015-16 and will see a flat salary of $4 million over each of the final four years of his new contract. (All monies not including incentives.)

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Limited oral history of the Final Four-winning 1999-2000 Florida Gators basketball team

Exactly 15 years ago today, then-34-year-old head coach Billy Donovan led the Florida Gators to the first Final Four victory in program history.

The 1999-2000 Gators were a special group, which included four NBA players (three of whom are still in the league), a young but hungry coaching staff (every assistant went on to be head coaches elsewhere) and a 10-man rotation that allowed Florida to be relentless on both ends of the court throughout entire games.

Those Gators captured just the second Southeastern Conference regular-season title in school history, played in the national championship game for the first time in school history and were ranked wire-to-wire that season for, you guessed it, the first time in school history.

It was a transcendent Florida team that came together to overcome tremendous obstacles, including a overall No. 1-ranked team in Duke – with Shane Battier, Jay Williams, Carlos Booser, Chris Carrawell and Mike Dunleavy – that would go on to win the national title the following season.

OnlyGators.com wanted to tell the story of these Gators through the eyes of those who were actually there. As such, we reached out to guard Teddy Dupay and forward Brent Wright to recount one of the biggest moments in program history on its 15th anniversary.

With the 2014-15 Final Four being played in Indianapolis – the same site as the 1999-2000 Four – and featuring two of the same teams (Michigan State, Wisconsin), the stars could not be better aligned for a look back.

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Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II comfortable and confident in decision to turn pro

Though his decision to leave school early for the 2015 NBA Draft was met with disappointment from fans, Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II feels comfortable and confident that the time was right for him to take the next step in his basketball-playing career.

Frazier, who many believed would remain in college for one more season to hone his skills and help the 2015-16 Gators rebound from the program’s worst campaign in nearly two decades, spoke exclusively with OnlyGators.com on Friday about his decision to leave Florida and try his hand at being a professional.

“I [made the decision] a couple days ago,” he said. “I felt like I had accomplished a lot and had a lot of success, had a positive experience, broke a couple records at Florida. I just felt like it was time for me to take my game to a professional level and see how good I can actually be. I felt I was ready to take that next step.”

Two points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career, Frazier holds two Gators program records: most three-pointers in a game (11 at South Carolina on March 4, 2014) and most consecutive games with a made triple (41). He is also seventh all-time at Florida in three-point field goal percentage (.432), attempts (525) and makes (227).

While Frazier feels like he has performed well for the Gators, he did not take his decision to leave school lightly. He consulted his family and sat down with head coach Billy Donovan to go over his options.

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Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II set to declare for 2015 NBA Draft

Updated on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Florida Gators junior guard Michael Frazier II has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NBA Draft, a source close to the player confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Thursday.

Frazier, Florida’s second-leading scorer in 2014-15 with 12.1 points per game, is expected to make his decision official on Friday, a source said.

He will sign with Andy Miller and Matt Ramker of ASM Sports, according to a source, as first reported by Darren Heitner of Heitner Legal.

Update: Frazier released the following statement via his personal Twitter account on Friday afternoon …

“Thank you to my coaches, teammates, and the entire Gator Nation for 3 special years of my life. I will be pursuing a career in professional basketball and have signed with Matt Ramker of ASM Sports. I will never forget my time in Gainesville and look forward to returning each summer to complete my degree. I will always be representing the Gator Nation. Go Gators.”

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Florida Gators announce $1.2 million upgrade to basketball practice facility weight room

As referenced last month by athletic director Jeremy Foley, the Florida Gators have followed through on plans to make a significant upgrade to the weight room at the Basketball Practice Complex.

The two-story facility – which spans nearly 48,000 square feet and was built for $10 million in 2001 before being renovated to include pieces of the Final Four courts and additional technology at a cost of $1.8 million in 2007 – will receive a $1.2 million upgrade to improve its weight room.

According to the school, the area of the facility designated for health and fitness will be doubled to more than 3,000 square feet, a “nutritional bar” will be added and extra office space will be provided for training coordinators for men’s and women’s basketball, golf and tennis (all of which utilize the complex).

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The Silver Lining for March 24 on Billy Donovan, NBA interest and Florida Gators basketball

You never say ‘never,’ and you never say ‘forever’ either

With the end to another college basketball season comes another offseason of questions about the future of Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan.

A two-time national champion who has led Florida to four Final Fours and 10 SEC titles (six regular season, four tournament) over the last 16 seasons, Donovan has spurned overtures from other programs (Kentucky – twice, NC State, etc.) and the NBA (Orlando Magic) to remain with Gators.

His second stint with Florida – if you consider his six days as Orlando’s coach to be a break of sorts – has included Donovan taking on additional challenges, such as serving as the head coach of USA Basketball’s Under-18 and Under-19 National Teams, to fill the void of not coaching basketball year-round.

Donovan’s international record? Just 19-0 with three gold medals and an average margin of victory of 43.7 points per game. He is returning to coach the U19 team this summer.

But back to that void. Donovan has long stated and never shied away from the fact that he has felt the lure of the NBA – not simply because he wants to test himself on a professional stage (he does) or coach the best athletes in the world (that too) but due to the fact that the NBA is all basketball, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Some of the NBA stuff, as I’ve said before, is intriguing in a lot of ways – the basketball part of it,” Donovan told the Orlando Sentinel last May.

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