Florida F Dorian Finney-Smith reinstated but ill; Wilbekin still suspended, Harris off team

By Adam Silverstein
November 15, 2013

After missing three games due to suspension (including the exhibition contest), Florida Gators redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated as an active player, head coach Billy Donovan announced on Friday.

However, even though Finney-Smith is now officially eligible to play in games, he may still miss Saturday afternoon’s showdown with Arkansas-Little Rock – UF’s third game of the regular season – as he is in the process of overcoming an illness.

“Doe-Doe is back on the team but he is ill right now, and I would say he’s unlikely to play. If he was healthy and available, I would play him [Saturday],” Donovan said.

“He’s done a very good job, up to this point and time, taking care of all his responsibilities. I feel bad for him just that he’s ill right now. We don’t know what it is. He’s got some kind of virus. He actually went over to the doctor [Friday] to get some blood work done. Probably not going to know exactly what it is probably ‘til later [on Friday].

“It’s one of those things where he didn’t practice [Thursday], he’s not going to practice [Friday]. It would be very, very difficult to play him [Saturday] just based on the way he’s feeling, how far behind he is, just preparation-wise going into this game. So I would anticipate right now that he wouldn’t play, but he is available if for some reason he had a miraculous recovery and felt better.”

Florida will play three games in the next six days, hosting Southern on Monday and Middle Tennessee State on Thursday. If Finney-Smith does not suit up over the weekend, he will likely be in uniform for the Gators at some point this week.

The former four-star prospect, who transferred to UF from Virginia Tech prior to the 2012-13 season, has yet to play in a game with the Gators.

Though Finney-Smith has been reinstated, Florida’s two other suspended players – senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin and redshirt junior center Damontre Harris – remain out of action and unable to play in games for the Gators.

Wilbekin is expected to miss up to three more games before returning to the court (like Finney-Smith, he has practiced with the team since fall camp), but Donovan painted a darker picture regarding Harris’s future with the program on Friday.

According to Donovan, Harris is not currently considered a member of the Florida basketball program.

“Well, right now, he’s not even on the team. He’s off right now. He’s not even in practice. He’s got a long, long way to go before he gets back on the team,” Donovan said. “Damontre’s doing things apart from our team, so he has things set in place for him in order to get back on the team. But right now, he’s not practicing with us, he’s not there every single day, he’s not doing any of those things.”

As he explains it, Harris has a long way to go to not only become more mature as a person but also earn his spot back on the Gators’ roster.

“There’s certain things in life that you’re going to have to do when you have a job. There’s responsibility, there’s an accountability. I think sometimes as a coach when you don’t hold guys accountable for things that you know, if they did them later in life, they would come back and bite them – cause them to get fired, lose a job, lose an opportunity – that becomes a learnt behavior where they just live their life with no level of accountability,” he said.

“Eventually, at some point, it’s going to catch up with you. I’m not going to take these guys and use them to win games. I hope in some time, whenever their time is done here, that they would say their time at Florida was challenging, it was difficult, but you know what, it prepared me for the real world.”

“[Harris is] not a bad kid, but he’s not accountable at all and he’s not responsible enough to take care of the things he needs to take care of. I’ve always believed this: if I can’t expect somebody to be accountable off the floor, to do what they’re supposed to do in all areas of their life, how can I expect them to guard a pick-and-roll, remember a play, to go get a rebound and do those things. If you can’t be accountable there, it’s not like you turn it on and turn it off. Either you have the wherewithal to be accountable [or you don’t].”

Donovan is much more positive and upbeat about Wilbekin’s upcoming return and ability to impact the team both on and off the court when he gets back.

“Scottie has been there every day. He’s been doing great. I’ve been really, really proud of him,” he said. “Scottie is a totally different person, totally different leader, totally different attitude, totally different. The strides he’s made – no one’s obviously had a chance to see him play – but for me as a coach, it’s been very, very rewarding for me to see where he is. I’m not so sure, if he didn’t go through some of the difficulties and challenges that he went through, that he could even be the kind of person and player he is today. There’s some drastic, drastic improvements that I’ve seen him make.”

Overall though, he hopes his players understand his general message – playing basketball at the Gators is a privilege, not a right.

“All these guys, they want to play. They want to get on the court and they want to play. But there’s no shortcuts to doing that right now,” Donovan said. “I’ve got to put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I’m doing right by the … other guys in the program.”

He added: “There are certain things that are right and there are certain things that are wrong. I think as a coach, when you look the other way when things are wrong, there’s also 26 eyes looking at me to see the way I’m handling situations.

“If all of a sudden I’m making concessions for different people, I think you lose credibility as a coach. And I’m not going to do that with these guys. I’ve always believed that the guys that are available to play you go out and do the very, very best with the guys that you have. Certainly our team has been greatly impacted by some of these guys not playing. But we got to use the guys that are there and available to play.”


  1. Frank says:

    Thank you, Billy Donovan, for being a builder of young men first and foremost. I know that you and Coach Muschamp both value this coaching trait and that years from now these young men will cherish there time under your leadership and the positive results in their lives. Keep up the good work and thanks again.

  2. cw says:

    Get over yourself Frank

  3. Tractorr says:

    Well I assume that whatever Harris did deserves his being removed from the team but we went from being a team with tons of big men to pretty much just Patric, great.

  4. GSORob says:

    Please don’t ever equate Billy D with Muschump. If WM was such a builder of young men, why do we continue to have the stupid penalties we do?

  5. TST says:

    Looking for our Gators to have a very good year . Fingers crossed ! Go Gators

  6. HeadOfficial says:

    The “infractions” not being spoken is academic eligibility. Being a poor student myself, it cost me the chance to go to UF as an athlete after high school. I ignored what teachers were telling me about academics being as important as athletics but I was wrong. I believe all three suspensions are a result of academic failings with Wilbekin and Finney-Smith finally seeing the “light” and Harris still stuck in the “dark”. I’m glad that the Gators have great “lightkeepers” in all their athletic programs! I’m sure the recruiters go to prospective players homes and use this “standard” of ensuring their son or daughter will be expected to perform in the classroom as well as on the playing field!

  7. gatorhippy says:

    @GSORob…Florida has had penalty issues since Spurrier…its not anything new…

    • MAR says:

      True, but the penalty issues were not this bad. And Spurrier would answer a dumb penalty with a call to the end zone, something WM is not willing to risk.

  8. Gator boys says:


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