Florida Dismisses Damontre Harris; South Carolina Transfer Never Plays for Gators

Florida has announced the dismissal of forward Damontre Harris. The transfer from South Carolina leaves the program having never played for the Gators. Florida will allow Harris to transfer without any restrictions.

Damontre Harris, Florida Gators

Harris transferred to Florida from South Carolina hoping to play two seasons with the Gators after sitting out during the 2012-13 campaign. He was suspended before the 2013-14 season began and, just recently, head coach Billy Donovan said he didn’t believe Harris would ever play for the Gators. On Saturday, that became true.

At 6’9″, the forward/center was expected to play behind senior Patric Young this season and then take over for him in 2014-15. An SEC All-Defensive Team selection with the Gamecocks, Harris was a welcome addition to the Gators roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to put it all together and get himself in Donovan’s good graces.

The timing of Harris’s dismissal is one to note as it will give him the ability to join another program for the spring semester. When he’ll actually be able to play is up to the NCAA.

Florida Gators 77 – Memphis Tigers 75: Gators Winning Close Games This Time Around

One season ago, the Florida Gators turned in a 0-6 record in games decided by less than 10 points. With a 77-75 victory over the Memphis Tigers on Tuesday night, the Gators improved to 4-2 this season alone in such games.

Casey Prather, Florida Gators

While not technically a road game, Florida traveled to New York, NY to face Memphis in the Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden. It was the Gators third-straight game against a ranked opponent and second-consecutive victory. Florida improved to 2-2 this season against ranked opponents. As the polls stand today, the Gators won’t face another ranked opponent until February 4, 2014 when they host the Missouri Tigers.

The player of the game was a no-brainer as the honor goes to senior forward Casey Prather. Prather shot 8-of-13 from the field, a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, and led all scorers with 22 points. He put in the final eight points the Gators would score and made four free throws in the final 1:20 to help Florida to the win.

To say Prather has been a surprise this season would be a gross understatement. The senior was expected to see more playing time and showed flashes last season that proved he would be able to answer the call with increased minutes; however, he has performed at a higher level than any would have expected. He leads the team with 18.7 points per game and has already surpassed his points total from last season. Prather was expected to be a contributor, but has surpassed that expectation and has become a vital part of Florida’s success.

Of the three transfers eligible to play for the Gators this season, redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith is the one continuing to make a name for himself. (Of course, Eli Carter is redshirting while injured and Damontre Harris isn’t likely to ever play for the Gators.) In 29.0 minutes per game for Virginia Tech during the 2011-12 season, Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. In almost four less minutes per game for Florida, he is averaging 11.4 points and 7.5 rebounds. While Carter heals and Harris possibly looks for another opportunity elsewhere, Finney-Smith is taking every possible advantage of the opportunity to play for the Gators and head coach Billy Donovan and is performing admirably.

Freshman guard Kasey Hill isn’t back to his old self just yet, but he was able to play 20 minutes or more for the second-consecutive game since returning from injury. Hill had his ups and downs during the win, struggling early. Sometimes it’s hard to remember he’s just a freshman and still has a lot to learn. Missing four games didn’t help the process, but Hill will continue to grow. The Gators will need him at his best if they hope to make a deep tourney run come March.

Florida improves to 8-2 with the win. With three non-conference games left before SEC play begins, the Gators are in a good position to have a nice streak riding into the new year. Florida will travel to another neutral site on Saturday to face the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL. The 4:30pm game can be seen on Fox Sports Net.

Gators Lose Kasey Hill for a Month in 67-53 Win over Southern

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team won on Monday night, but they may have actually lost. Early in the second half of the Gators’ 67-53 victory over the Southern Jaguars, freshman guard Kasey Hill rolled his ankle sidelining him for a month. The injury turned out to not be as bad as it looked, but we still have to add a hopefully to the end of that statement. Hill suffered a high ankle sprain that could keep him out for the remainder of the 2013 calendar year.

Kasey Hill - Florida Gators

The Gators have now won two in a row since falling to Wisconsin last week. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we really have no idea who will be on the court for Florida going forward. With Hill gone for at least a month, Dillon Graham out for the season (head coach Billy Donovan announced this on Monday), Eli Carter possibly out for an extended period of time, and Scottie Wilbekin still suspended, there may be an open call for any student that can play the guard position.

After Hill went down on Monday night, the Gators’ offense looked lost and Donovan looked for ways to fix it. While the Gators’ scoring output didn’t change much with the loss of Hill—Florida scored 35 with him available in the first half and 32 without him in the second—they weren’t able to control the flow of the game. Southern actually outscored Florida 34-32 over the final 20 minutes.

We’ll go with what we’ve got. We’ll have to do some different things, make some lineup adjustments and changes, protect some guys in foul trouble and probably have multiple guys handle the ball. We’ve got to be able to flow and function on offense.

– Billy Donovan, Florida Gators Head Coach

One of Florida’s three incoming transfers—Dorian Finney-Smith—has seen his playing time increase from his first game to his second, but he is solely a forward. One of the others—Damontre Harris—remains suspended and from the sounds of it, he will remain so for quite some time. With Carter’s minutes limited, the Gators may move forward with just two scholarship guards—Michael Frazier II and Devon Walker. Immediately, Florida may be able to handle it, but a four-game stretch with contests against Florida State, Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis is right around the corner.

Six of the Gators’ top seven scorers remain available despite the injuries and suspensions, but who will get them the ball? Frazier II is a pure shooter and Florida’s primary weapon from behind the three-point line. Now, he may be the one bringing the ball up the court. What started as a top-10 team may quickly become a roster pieced together by out-of-position players. While talent is still available, plenty of it will be watching from the bench.

It’s too early in the season to curse the football team for passing along its whatever bad mojo it has just yet, but if anyone else is carried off of the court or suspended any time soon, we may be seeing significant minutes from names that are new to us. For instance, we know who Jacob Kurtz is, but before this season, his career high in minutes played was 4 against South Carolina on January 30, 2013. In four games this season, Kurtz is averaging 18.5 minutes per game. That’s not to say he hasn’t earned more playing time, but his story would be different with a full roster.

The Gators get two days to process Hill’s injury and Carter’s future. On Thursday, they host Middle Tennessee. A win is expected, but no one has any idea what form it will take.

2013 Basketball Recruiting: Florida Gators Watching Schuyler Rimmer

Billy Donovan, Matt McCall and the Florida Gators are keeping an eye on 2013 power forward Schuyler Rimmer. Although the Gators have yet to offer a scholarship to the Orlando, FL (Boone) forward, one could come in time.

Depending on where you look, Rimmer is anywhere between 6’8″ and 6’10” and weighs in at about 230 pounds. He’ll look to add strength before heading off to college, without losing speed and the ability to get open away from the rim. The Gators see Rimmer as someone that could fit into Erik Murphy’s role in the future. He’ll need to work on his outside shot, but with time could fill that role well.

Rimmer has talked with McCall many times, but only recently got a chance to have a long conversation with Donovan. He was impressed with Donovan’s honesty and felt comfortable with the head coach’s projection for him. With Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith becoming eligible to play in the 2013-14 season, it’s unlikely Rimmer would see much time as a freshman. That’s alright with the recruit though; he’d like to find a program to grow in.

A three-star prospect, Rimmer will look to improve his stock during the AAU season and then his senior year. He currently holds a number of offers including ones from Miami, Penn State and Tennessee. Rimmer has spoken favorably of the Vols ($), but hasn’t rule anyone out regardless of whether he has received on offer or not. He hopes to get to Gainesville for an unofficial visit sometime this summer.

Dorian Finney-Smith Transfers To Florida; Gators Add Former Virginia Tech Forward

While the Florida Gators may have trouble convincing forwards to sign with the program out of high school, the transfer market seems to be wide open to Billy Donovan. Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith has chosen to transfer to Florida over Iowa State, Louisville and Marquette. The 6’8″ forward was a Florida target during the 2011 recruiting cycle, but decided to stay in his home state and join the Hokies. He had a productive freshman season during which he appeared in all 33 of VT’s games, starting 30 of them. Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds during his only season with the Hokies.

Finney-Smith is the second forward to transfer to Florida this offseason. He joins former South Carolina forward Damontre Harris as one of the newest Gators. Like Harris, Finney-Smith will sit out the 2012-13 season. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after using a redshirt during the season he must sit out.

Although the Gators weren’t able to add big bodies to help during the upcoming season, both Harris and Finney-Smith will be vital pieces of Florida’s success when they’re eligible. They’re both proven commodities that have faced good competition at the college level. While Donovan is having some trouble convincing larger forwards to come to Florida during the recruiting process, maybe future prospects will see the transfers coming in and realize there’s a place for them in the Gators’ system after all.

Florida Gators Add Damontre Harris; Billy Donovan Snags South Carolina Transfer

Former South Carolina forward Damontre Harris has made his decision and it’s a good one for the Florida Gators. The 6’9″ SEC All-Defensive Team forward will transfer to play for head coach Billy Donovan and the Gators. Harris chose Florida over Kansas. He will watch the 2012-13 season from the bench and then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In desperate need of big man help wherever they can get it, Harris is a get of the biggest kind for Donovan and Florida. Despite a track record of bringing in great big men over his time in Gainesville and then leading a number of them to the NBA, Donovan has had trouble convincing taller players to play for the Gators in recent years. Not including the 6’9″ Walter Pitchford (who has since transferred), Florida hasn’t added anyone over 6’6″ since the 2010 recruiting class. To say Harris made a decision important not only for him, but for the Gators would be an understatement.

Although we won’t see Harris in action until the 2013-14 season, we know what he can do and that he can play at the college level. He’s a proven commodity that will come at the perfect time when big men will be in need in Gainesville.

South Carolina’s Damontre Harris Trims Possible Transfer List To Florida And Kansas

Sophomore forward Damontre Harris has made it clear he will leave the South Carolina Gamecocks and continue his college basketball career elsewhere. On Tuesday, Harris narrowed his list of potential transfer candidates down to two – the Florida Gators and the Kansas Jayhawks.

The 6’9″, 214-pound Harris was a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team this past season and will bring experience at the forward position to whichever program he ends up choosing. The Gators have to like their chances given a number of factors, including familiarity with SEC play and Florida’s need for a big man in the 2013-14 season when Harris will be eligible.

Of course, Kansas can’t exactly be written off as a destination for Harris. Bill Self leads one of the nation’s best programs and is coming off of a national championship game appearance. Either program would be a good fit for Harris and it will surely be a tough decision for him to make.

2012 Basketball Recruiting: Anthony Bennett Eliminates Florida Gators From Finalists

In a surprising move, 2012 basketball recruit and high school star Anthony Bennett eliminated the Florida Gators from his list of finalists earlier this week. The 6’7″, 230-pound forward from Henderson, NV (Findlay Prep)* was thought to be down to Florida and the Kentucky Wildcats at one point, but that is no longer the case after he made it clear the Gators were out of the race.

Bennett filled a definite need for Billy Donovan and Florida. You have to go back to the 2010 class to find a Gators commitment over 6’6″ (2011’s Walter Pitchford came in listed at 6’9″, but he has since left the program) and to 2008 to find a player with as much size – Kenny Kadji was listed at 240 pounds – as Bennett. It’s no secret that Florida needs big men and the highest ranked uncommitted recruit in the 2012 class seemed like a perfect fit.

In another surprise of sorts, with Florida out of the picture, Kentucky may not even be the favorite. Some believe it will come down to Oregon and UNLV for Bennett.

With Bennett headed elsewhere, Donovan and the Gators will set their sights on that final roster spot. Many believe it could come down to Bradley Hayes – a 6’11”, 250-pound forward from Jacksonville, FL (Sandalwood) – or Damontre Harris – who will transfer from South Carolina and has Florida among his favorites ($).

*Yes, I’m quite aware Bennett is from Canada. Let me rephrase that OF COURSE I’m aware Bennett is from Canada.