Florida reinstates Finney-Smith
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Dorian Finney-Smith's suspension is over. His season debut is still on hold.
Florida coach Billy Donovan reinstated the forward Friday, but said he's unlikely to play Saturday against Arkansas-Little Rock because of an illness. Finney-Smith caught a virus while the 11th-ranked Gators (1-1) were on the road at Wisconsin earlier this week. He skipped practice Thursday and Friday. He also had blood work done Friday in hopes of speeding his recovery.
"He's done a very, very good job up until this point taking care of responsibilities," Donovan said. "I feel bad for him just that he's ill. We don't know what it is. He has some kind of virus."
Harris seems far from reinstatement. Donovan said he is no longer practicing with the team because he's "not accountable, not responsible at all."
"He's got a long, long way to go before he gets back on the team," Donovan said. "Not going to just use these kids to win games. All the guys want to play. They want to be out on the court and they want to play, and there's no shortcut to that."
Wilbekin, who also was suspended to begin last season, likely will return before Harris.
"Scottie is a totally different person," Donovan said. "Totally different leader, totally different attitude. The strides he has made -- no one has had a chance to see him play -- it's been very, very rewarding to see where he is. There are drastic, drastic improvements that I've seen him make."
Finney-Smith sat out an exhibition game and two regular-season games -- punishment for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
He practiced with the team during his suspension and probably will make his season next week. Florida plays Southern on Monday and Middle Tennessee State on Thursday.
When Finney-Smith does take the floor, it will mark his Florida debut.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Portsmouth, Va., averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds at Virginia Tech in 2011-12. He sat out last year under NCAA transfer rules.
He should provide a significant boost for Florida on both ends of the floor. He has length, athleticism, shot-blocking ability, rebounding prowess and the skills to score inside and out. Teammates said he was one of best players in practice all of last season.
Wilbekin averaged 9.1 points and 5.0 assists as a junior.
Harris, a 6-10 junior from Fayetteville, N.C., averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in two seasons at South Carolina. He also sat out last year under NCAA transfer rules, but was unable to practice because of a shoulder injury.
Without those three, Florida was short-handed in its first two games. The Gators played with just eight scholarship players, including seldom-used guard Dillon Graham, against North Florida and Wisconsin. Making matter worse, forward Will Yeguete (micro-fracture knee surgery) and guard Eli Carter (broken leg) are still recovering from significant injuries and playing limited minutes.