Florida PG Scottie Wilbekin suspended indefinitely

Florida Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin has been disciplined by the team for the second time in a seven-month span as the school announced Monday that he has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Wilbekin, who spent his first two years with the Gators as a reserve but averaged 9.1 points and a team-high 5.0 assists in a team-most 31.9 minutes per game as Florida’s starting point guard last season, missed the first three contests of the 2012-13 campaign after he was suspended by head coach Billy Donovan just one day before the team opened its season against Georgetown.

That was also termed an indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules.

“Scottie is a great kid who I think made some choices and did some things that I’m not going to have him a part of,” Donovan said on Nov. 8, 2012. “Like all these guys are in college, they’re all growing and maturing and trying to make decisions and get better and find out and discover who they want to be as people. I think Scottie will learn from this; he’ll grow from this. I think he’ll be better from it.”

Wilbekin was likely to enter the 2013-14 season as the Gators’ starter at point guard though some believe five-star incoming freshman Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) is a better all-around player. Donovan had recently indicated that Wilbekin and Hill could both start, if the latter earned the opportunity, with one of the two playing off-guard.

Should Wilbekin’s latest suspension carry over into the season, he could miss a significant amount of action considering the length of his previous suspension.

The other two point guards on Florida’s roster last season are no longer with the team as Kenny Boynton graduated and Braxton Ogbueze transferred to Charlotte after barely seeing the court as a freshman.

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SIX BITS: Ogbueze, Donovan, Elam, Beal, Banks

1 » While sophomore guard/forward DeVon Walker changed his mind about his decision to transfer and returned to the Florida Gators basketball program, sophomore point guard Braxton Ogbueze remained steadfast in his desire to leave and officially transferred this week. Ogbeuze, who committed to Florida out of Charlotte, NC, decided to return to his local community and play for the Charlotte 49ers. He will sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2014-15.

2 » Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan sat down for a wide-ranging interview with former long-time NBA coach Brendan Suhr on his Coaching U LIVE podcast. The interview, which is reminiscent of a conversation with Inside the Actors Studio’s James Lipton, covers a variety of topics including why Donovan is a coach, how he describes himself as a coach, if he would play for a coach like himself and how college basketball players have changed over the years.

3 » Baltimore Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam met and spoke with Dwyer High School’s current football players recently, telling the members of his former team that using life’s difficulties to propel them on the football field can benefit their lives in the long run. “I feel like with me going [in the draft], it was a big motivation for the kids because they come from the same neighborhoods, the same program,” Elam told the Palm Beach Post. “I got the chance, and I took advantage of the chance. That makes the kids feel like they’ve got the chance. That’s what it’s all about.”

4 » It was announced on Wednesday that guard Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards, will represent his team at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery set for Tuesday, May 21. Washington has won the draft lottery twice (2001, 2010) and has a 2.8 percent chance (eighth-best out of the field) of once again receiving the No. 1 overall selection.

5 » Florida’s director of on-campus recruiting, Brendan Donovan, has left the program to accept a position with the Cleveland Browns as the team’s college scouting administrator. Donovan has done a fine job with the Gators’ recruiting as of late but obviously saw an opportunity he could not pass up on the NFL level. 24/7 Sports first reported Donovan’s departure from the program.

6 » Those not tuned-in to Florida’s golf program may not know about sophomore Eric Banks and his brave return from a four-hour heart surgery that was performed to treat a congenital hole in his heart called an atrial spetal defect. Check out this feature from GatorZone.com’s Scott Carter, which goes in-depth on Banks’s heart scare and looks at how he is trying to help the Gators in the 2013 NCAA South Regional Tournament.

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DeVon Walker changes mind, returns to Gators

Just one week after coming to the conclusion that transferring would be the best thing for his career, forward DeVon Walker has reversed course and instead decided to remain a member of the Florida Gators basketball program.

“Florida is such a great place, and the more I thought about it, I just realized this is where I want to be,” Walker said in a school release. “The coaching staff has helped me get better on and off the court over the past year and I really enjoy being around my teammates, so I’m excited to refocus on my future here in Gainesville.”

Walker played in 24 games as a true freshman but averaged just 4.0 minutes per contest. He scored 20 points in 99 total minutes during the 2012-13 campaign, making just 4-of-22 shots (1-of-7 threes) while grabbing 17 rebounds.

He was the second Florida freshman to transfer this month – point guard Braxton Ogbueze announced his intent to leave the program on May 1 – but made his feelings about the program, the coaches and his teammates known at the time.

“I’ve grown a lot this year, and I’m grateful to Coach [Billy] Donovan, the staff and my teammates at Florida for everything,” Walker said in a school release on May 6. “One of the best years of my life. New friends, new experiences, & new knowledge. Thankful for the opportunity at UF. Goodbye,” he subsequently tweeted.

When Walker decided to transfer, Donovan said the player had “a bright future” and wished him the best going forward. He shared similar sentiments on Monday.

“We always encourage guys to do what they feel is best for their future, and we’re glad that DeVon will be continuing with us here at Florida,” Donovan said.

Minutes may once again be hard to come by for Walker during the 2013-14 season as Florida’s roster is stacked, especially in the frontcourt. Nevertheless, the Gators’ coaching staff is bullish on Walker’s future and see him as an athletic player who can be a contributor off the bench ala Casey Prather.

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DeVon Walker decides to transfer from Florida

Florida Gators forward DeVon Walker informed the team late last week that he had decided to transfer, and the program officially announced his decision on Monday.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan wished Walker well in a school release.

“DeVon has a bright future, and we hope for the best for him wherever he chooses to go,” Donovan said.

Walker played in 24 games as a true freshman but averaged just 4.0 minutes per contest. He scored 20 points in 99 total minutes during the 2012-13 campaign, making just 4-of-22 shots (1-of-7 threes) while grabbing 17 rebounds.

The second Florida freshman to transfer this month, Walker joins guard Braxton Ogbueze as 2012 commitments hoping the pastures are greener elsewhere.

“I’ve grown a lot this year, and I’m grateful to Coach Donovan, the staff and my teammates at Florida for everything,” Walker said in the same release.

Over the last two offseasons, the Gators have added three transfers including forward Dorian Finney-Smith and center Damontre Harris in 2012 and guard Eli Carter on April 30. Finney-Smith and Harris will both be active for the 2013-14 season, while Carter is hoping the NCAA approves a waiver that would allow him to play immediately without sitting out a year.

Florida also has a pair of five-star prospects – point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) and F/C Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) – joining the program next season.

Minutes would have been hard to come by for both DeVon Walker and Ogbueze. The Gators will have just 11 scholarship players on the roster for the upcoming season should Hill and Chris Walker both be cleared academically.


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PG Braxton Ogbueze to transfer from Florida

Florida Gators guard Braxton Ogbueze informed the team that he had decided to transfer and was granted his release from the school on Wedesday.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan announced in a press release that Ogbueze, who averaged 4.7 minutes per game during his true freshman season last year, will no longer with the program going forward.

“Braxton has been a hard worker with a great attitude, and we wish him nothing but the best as he moves on,” Donovan said.

“I’ve appreciated the opportunity here at Florida and have learned a lot that will help me in the future,” Ogbueze said in the same release.

The player’s family had been murmuring about a transfer when Ogbueze failed to see significant court time during the 2012-13 season. With UF adding Rutgers transfer guard Eli Carter to the fold on Tuesday, Ogbueze obviously felt that he would have a better chance to succeed elsewhere.

A four-star prospect in 2012 and the No. 78 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals, Ogbueze originally chose Florida over Baylor. He committed on March 9, 2011.

The Gators now have an open scholarship for the 2013-14 season though it is unlikely to be filled over the summer. Carter will file a waiver with the NCAA to skip his redshirt transfer season and be eligible to play immediately for Florida.

Ogbueze is the second true Gators transfer (Walter Pitchford) since Florida lost four members of its 2008 recruiting class (Allan Chaney, Kenny Kadji, Ray Shipman, Eloy Vargas). Cody Larson gave up basketball before the 2012-13 season and Nimrod Tishman, after joining UF for the 2009-10 campaign, moved back to Israel.

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Freshmen must help as Florida visits Tennessee

No. 6/8 FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Record: 22-4 (12-2 SEC) Record: 16-10 (8-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 21,678]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: -8.5 | O/U 124.5

On the road again, the No. 6/8 Florida Gators will play in yet another hostile environment on Tuesday and do so this time with a roster depleted even further than it has been in most contests this season.

Florida takes on the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, TN – where it is 5-11 all-time under head coach Billy Donovan – with just six healthy members of its normal rotation as junior forward Will Yeguete recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery and freshman guard Michael Frazier II sits out a game after suffering a concussion on Saturday.

Donovan, who has been hesitant to give his other freshman playing time this season as he still views them as developmental players, will be forced to play some of his underclassmen on Tuesday. He said during his weekly press conference on Monday that the Gators will not survive with just six players seeing the court in Knoxville but that he is not exactly sure what he can expect from his freshmen at this point.

Continue Reading » Freshmen must help as Florida visits Tennessee

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Florida trounces Arkansas 71-54, Frazier injured

Fresh off its second league loss in five games, No. 4/5 Florida Gators basketball (22-4, 12-2 SEC) extended its lead in the Southeastern Conference standings to two games with a dominant 71-54 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-10, 8-6 SEC) on Saturday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida, in its second meeting with Arkansas during regular season play for the first time in program history, earned a measure of revenge for the initial showdown in which the Razorbacks upset the Gators 80-69 on Feb. 5 in Fayetteville, AR.

Four Florida players scored in double figures, all of whom gave complete efforts throughout the contest. Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario led the way with a team-high 15 points, but junior center Patric Young made a bigger impact with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

Ensuring that Arkansas did not take the upper hand out of the gate like it did two weeks ago, Florida opened the contest on a 7-0 run but was soon tied with the Razorbacks at 8-8 after the visitors matched the Gators’ intensity with a 8-1 scoring stretch including seven-straight points from forward Marshawn Powell.

Minutes later, Powell found his way to the bench as Florida junior F Casey Prather entered the game and drew a pair of charges on the big man. The Gators completed a 9-0 run to take a 23-13 lead before being given a taste of their own medicine.

Young left the court with 5:53 to play in the first half after committing his second foul, and Arkansas took advantage with a 6-0 run to get within four of the hosts, a margin that would hold until halftime.

Continue Reading » Florida trounces Arkansas 71-54, Frazier injured

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1/14: Injury updates, 400 wins, Boynton’s career

With No. 9/10 Florida Gators (12-2, 2-0 SEC) set to begin a challenging week of action including a road game at Texas A&M on Thursday and a home contest against Missouri on Saturday, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Monday to provide injury updates and discuss his team’s issues heading into its next two games.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators are banged up. Juniors point guard Scottie Wilbekin (finger) and forward Erik Murphy (rib) are playing through broken bones, and junior F Will Yeguete (knee tendinitis) has also remained on the court while dealing with an incredibly sore and sometimes swollen joint. Donovan updated the statuses of two more players on Monday, noting that redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario (ankle sprain) will probably be back for Texas A&M but junior G/F Casey Prather (high-ankle sprain) is out for the game and will most likely be sidelined for at least “10-14 days” by the training staff’s best estimation. The injury is Prather’s third (concussions, split lip) this season.

“Rosario’s got an ankle sprain. I’ll probably find out a little more here this week of his availability for A&M. I would say that right now Prather is out. He’s not playing. It doesn’t look like it. He’s got a high-ankle sprain. We’ll have to see how he progresses. I’d say right now going into the A&M game, he’s probably out,” Donovan said. “Yeguete is still dealing with some tendinitis and swelling there [in his knee], so I don’t know how much we’ll get out of him here this week. Right now I would say that there’s a good chance that Rosario and Yeguete would play, and I would probably say Prather is out.”

He also said Yeguete’s injury may be worse than the team originally thought and that X-rays will be taken on Monday to determine if there is anything else going on in and around the joint aside from the tendinitis. Donovan said one other potential diagnosis may be chondromalacia, which is an irritation under the surface of the kneecap that can cause pain at the front and inner side of the knee. Any of these diagnoses would not keep Yeguete from playing; he would have to determine his own pain tolerance.

“It could be something more than [tendinitis]. We’re going to find that out [Monday],” he said. “I don’t know what else it would necessarily be. They just want to take an X-ray because he’s got some swelling in his knee. Whether or not it’s anything more than that, we’ll have to wait and see. The first diagnosis by our trainer and doctor was that it was tendinitis. It could be more than that. What? I don’t know.”

Though Florida has been injury-riddled this season, Donovan is impressed with the way the team has come together and fought with a limited lineup.

“The one thing that helps is we do have some experience. Really for this year, I think there’s probably only been two or three games this year for us out of our first 14 that we’ve had a full compliment compliment of players available to play,” he said. “It’s just been something you have to deal with. Injuries are part of the game. You have to e able to get your guys that are going to have to step up in different roles prepared to play how we’re going to need them to play to put ourselves in a position to win.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/14: Injury updates, 400 wins, Boynton’s career

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