Florida reinstates Dorian Finney-Smith from suspension

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In late October, it was reported that redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith — who sat out last season after transferring from Virginia Tech after his freshman year in 2011-12 — would be suspended for Florida’s exhibition against Florida Southern and first two games of the season against North Florida and Wisconsin for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

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.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.