Lots of wing options for Gators

As Florida continues to get a couple of guys healthy and back to a full basketball roster, head coach Billy Donovan knows he has some options on the wing. The Gators return forward Casey Prather from last year's team and also have transfer Dorian Finney-Smith that can play the small forward spot. Guard Michael Frazier also returns with his long range shot. Then there are more options available.

Florida went to more of a guard oriented offense a year ago running with point guard Scottie Wilbekin, and guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario. While they continue to work through Wilbekin's punishment for off-the-court issues, they can move ahead on the wings.

At small forward, Prather returns where he had a junior season that built his confidence as a player. He will be expected to step his game up even more as a starter this season and Billy Donovan can see him at either small forward or power forward. He says the same about transfer Finney-Smith as well.

"I think because of Casey being able to play the three and the four he knows those positions," Donovan said over the weekend. "I think Do-do (Dorian Finney Smith) is very versatile and we can play those two guys together. They are long, rangy, athletic, and can do a lot of different things. I think those two guys together they can bring a different element to our team.

Behind Prather at the three (small forward), would be Finney-Smith or sophomore Dillon Graham.

"Right now we would probably be looking at (Dorian Finney-Smith) or Dillon Graham, they would probably be the most logical right now," Donovan said. "I don't know if a guy like Mike Frazier, if it would take away too much of what he does well in terms of shooting the ball and putting it in his hands. Dillon is a good passer and has good speed. Same with Do-do, he is a good handler, a good passer.

Michael Frazier is the leader of the pack at the shooting guard spot. A long sharp-shooter, Frazier has looked good in the early going.

"He's done (well)," Donovan said of Frazier. "His attitude has been good and he's worked hard. His body has changed and he's a lot more confident than he was a year ago. He's shot the ball very well in practice the last two days. He has done a good job for us."

Frazier had the bonus of working with Donovan in the Team USA Championships this summer where Donovan was the head coach of the Under-19 team and Frazier was a part of the roster. The sophomore seemed to lose his touch early on in the tournament and Donovan says that likely helped him become more of a complete player.

"I think it helped a lot," the Gator head coach said. "Michael didn't shoot the ball very well there. When you take a player and his greatest asset and take it away and he's playing with a lot of other good players. I think he learned a lot.

"We were out there competing for a gold medal and he started to do some other things that helped our team. Later in the tournament he started shooting a lot better. In the first few games he was 0-4, 1-5, 2-8, and was having a hard time. We faced a lot of zone in the first few 4-5 games and figured you throw Frazier in there and he will be able to stretch the zone and make some shots and it didn't go that way. Guys were encouraging him to shoot. He didn't lose confidence but he was thinking ‘geez, I have all of these good players around me, and the balls aren't going in the basket'.

"I think he went through some adversity and learned a lot. I think he handled it in a way that really helped him grow."

Unil transfer guard Eli Carter is healthy enough to play, Frazier will get help at the two from guard Scottie Wilbekin, Graham and sophomore guard DeVon Walker. Donovan likes what he sees early out of graham and Walker.

"Both guys have gotten physically stronger," Donovan said of graham and Walker. "Both come in as freshmen last year and with a lot of veterans coming back, we had Scottie, Kenny, Mike (Frazier), and Rosario… we had a lot of different pieces to our team in the backcourt. With the way Mike Frazier played last year we moved forward with those four guys.

"Those guys are a lot more confident and have a better understanding of what we are doing. They have gotten stronger. They are such good kids that they have always been great team guys. I think now they feel more comfortable in exerting themselves so to speak and being more aggressive.

With Rosario, Boynton and forward Erik Murphy all gone due to graduation, the Gators are going to have to find more scoring. The above players are going to have to be prominent in scoring, along with everyone else.

"I think we are going to have to do it by ball movement, player movement, run good actions, being unselfish," Donovan said about being able to put points on the board. "I think it starts with good defense. Last year we were really good defensively and we need to get to a place where we are good defensively. I think this can be a very good transition team and the more stops you get the more opportunities you get to run.

"We have to be a team that is not going to have just one guy. We have to get good spacing, good ball movement, extra passing. Right now, nobody is standing out as a big time scorer on our team, but when put in the right situations they all have the ability to score. We have to put them in the right situations." The three seniors from last season were also all good three-point shooters. This team will be a lot different without them, but Donovan doesn't want to give up on the long range shot.

"I think we have to take three's that are good shots for our guys," he said. "Kenny Boynton over his career showed he could take some difficult shots, where some of the others, it really isn't their forte. As long as those guys are taking good three's, open three's, rhythm three's, three's that are shots that they can take, we will encourage those. Sometimes a defense requires guys taking shots to keep the defense honest."

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