Harris practicing, will miss the year

Damontre Harris has begun the process of getting on the court in a game for the Gators, but it won't happen until next season. He's working out with the team and helping No. 3 Florida prepare for games as a member of the scout team. Harris decided over Christmas break that he didn't want to transfer and would like to earn his way back on the team in Gainesville.

There's no question that Florida could use one more big man on this year's roster. It could come in the form of freshman Chris Walker if the NCAA clears him soon, but Damontre Harris could also fill the void. Billy Donovan was quick to rule that out on Monday.

"I think it would completely devalue what our core values are here in terms of what we are trying to do each and every day," Donovan said.

The Florida coach won't back off making Harris earn his way back onto the team. It's similar to what Scottie Wilbekin went through in the offseason before being cleared the play this year.

For Harris, there's a history. He took a redshirt last season while sitting out after transferring to Florida from South Carolina. He was facing a suspension at the beginning of the season, but instead of working his way back onto the team and being accountable off the court, he started to disappear.

Harris eventually decided to transfer and leave the program before having a change of heart of Christmas break. He reached out to Donovan, admitting he made a mistake and asking for another chance. Donovan allowed it to happen, making sure Harris knew he would have a long way to go before getting back on the court in a game. The road to making that happen continues and is the reason why he won't be on the court this year.

"We have too many guys like Patric Young and Yeguete and Prather and those guys who have been committed for years, really working and doing the right things," Donovan said. "And for us to all the sudden inject (Harris) back in there because he may be able to help our team -- we've done fine without him. He'll have to work to get better and improve, but no we're not going to play him this year."

FINNEY-SMITH MATURING: It took time for Donovan to get through to Dorian Finney-Smith. After a missed shot or missed assignment on defense, the redshirt sophomore would be worthless during the next few possessions as he continued to beat himself up for the mistake.

Things have finally started to change mentally for Finney-Smith, helping him become more of an impact player for the Gators.

"He's a guy who has to do a better job moving from one play to the next," Donovan said. "What I like about coaching him, he's very accountable and very responsible, and at times I think he's almost too hard on himself. He screws up and makes a mistake or does something wrong, sometimes it has a tendency to stay with him and linger after the play has happened. It's hurt our team and it's hurt him."

He has served as a difference maker on the glass for Florida. Even when Patric Young has been out of games and the Gators don't have as much size, Finney-Smith has shown a nature ability to rebound and defend up front.

"He does rebound the ball very well," Donovan said. "He gives us a guy, skill-wise, who can put it down on the floor, shoot it from behind the line. Defensively, he can do some different things with him because he can guard multiple positions. But the best thing he's done for us so far is rebound."

Fightin Gators Top Stories