With the Florida Gators‘ 2013-14 basketball season getting underway in just a few hours, the second half of OGGOA‘s series – The Countdown – takes a look at those players on the roster wearing jerseys ranging from No. 10-0.
10 – Dorian Finney-Smith (Portsmouth, VA)
Redshirt sophomore forward (transfer)
6’8” 212 lbs.
Quick Bio: A former four-star recruit and the No. 31 overall player in the Class of 2011, 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 Season: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Finney-Smith was ineligible to play and took a redshirt. He was, however, able to practice the Gators and did just that as he helped prepare Florida for its Elite Eight run.
2013-14 Outlook: Finney-Smith has the intangables that could go a long way to helping the Gators break through the Elite Eight ceiling and get to the Final Four for the first time since 2006-07. Unfortunately for Florida, he starts the year suspended due to a violation of team rules and it is unknown when he will be allowed to return to the court (likely in a game or two). Head coach Billy Donovan spent most of the offseason trying to take pressure off Finney-Smith’s shoulders because the expectation level for his contributions is so high. He is just happy to be at UF. “I fit right in. I picked up the plays quick like the pick-and-rolls, I like the pick-and-rolls. My teammates, they helped me out with it, so I’d say I’ve adjusted pretty good,” Finney-Smith said.
5 – Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL)
Senior 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 Florida as a junior. A lifelong Gators 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 UF 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. As a sophomore, Wilbekin again served as back-up but was more impressive overall, 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.
2012-13 Season: Moving into the starting lineup, Wilbekin doubled his minutes but tripled his production, averaging 9.1 points, 5.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He hit 35.9 percent of his three-pointers and was better at getting to the hoop than Erving Walker had been the previous four seasons but was still not consistent in that regard. He was suspended for the first three games of the season but came back with gusto. He struggled mightily in the Gators’ final two games, however, combining to go 4-for-17 in 56 minutes. Two months after the season ended, he was suspended for the second time in a seven-month span.
2013-14 Outlook: Once Wilbekin comes back from his suspension, which could last up to six games, he will return to being an on-court leader for Florida, one that has supposedly taken his game to another level this offseason. Word out of the program is that Wilbekin took his latest discipline to heart and has been laser-focused on basketball over the last few months, which is great news for the Gators. Some of the pressure to put the ball in the hoop, at least as the primary ball-handler, will be taken off his shoulders, meaning he can concentrate on putting his teammates in position to score and spotting up for three-pointers. “He’s pretty unstoppable in practice, honestly. He knows the game. He’s extremely talented point guard,” said the next person featured on The Countdown. “Even though he’s had his issues this past summer, he’s still done a great job developing his game. I believe, when his suspension is over, he’s going to help our team tremendously right off the bat.”
Read about FIVE more players in The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida basketball (10-0)