Finney-Smith’s suspension is over, but he is unlikely play in the Gators’ game against Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday due to an illness.
In his absence, Florida head coach Billy Donovan has been pleased with how Finney-Smith has comported himself, as reported by The Associated Press: “He’s done a very, very good job up until this point taking care of responsibilities. I feel bad for him just that he’s ill. We don’t know what it is. He has some kind of virus.”
The good news is that Finney-Smith is back.
The bad news? Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and center Damontre Harris remain suspended indefinitely, and it doesn’t sound like Harris is close to returning anytime soon as he hasn’t been practicing with the team: “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.”
While Harris still has a ways to go, Wilbekin at least seems to have gotten back on Donovan’s good side: “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.”
Considering that all three of these players missed Florida’s second game of the season against Wisconsin — a 59-53 loss — the Gators actually played fairly well against a tough Badgers team, all things considered.
Florida’s next true test comes at home against in-state rival Florida State on November 29th.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.