After being ineligible to participate in team activities, freshman Brandone Francis has now been cleared to partake in practice with the Florida Gators.
Having to sit out the 2014-15 season due to academic ineligibility, Francis wasn’t allowed to practice or be involved in any team activities. The freshman guard was forced to take care of himself throughout the fall term and would find out after if he would be cleared to practice.
Now being allowed at practice with the team throughout winter break, Francis is able to do what he came to do at UF and that is to play basketball.
“Obviously, Brandone has a lot to catch up on, based on what he’s missed. To his credit he did a pretty good job on his own of keeping himself in shape,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He lifted with our strength coach but in terms of the conditioning part he did a pretty good job. And he’s hung in here pretty well these first three days considering he hasn’t had any preseason conditioning or anything in terms of pre-practice or anything like that. He kind of was thrown right in there and he’s doing well.”
Getting another body in practice allows the Gators’ practice to be more competitive, which helps improve the team overall.
Now that the Gators are at their full potential with their entire lineup for this season, Francis has been able to contribute in different ways and hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down while on the court despite the amount of time missed.
Donovan said he’s impressed with how Francis has worked to be where he’s at now academically and that’s the reason why he’s on the court now compared to not being there before.
“The one thing I’m going to say about Brandone is any time you are coming from a different country, you are always dealing with a language barrier there and he’s gotten better, he’s gotten much better at his English,” Donovan said. “The one thing I would say about Brandone academically is he gives really good effort, he really tries.”
Since observing how he’s progressed since he’s been on campus, Donovan said Francis is where he’s supposed to be. Meeting with teachers, tutors and spending extra time studying. He’s very conscientious and very responsible and reliable.
Now being back on the hardwood, the Dominican Republic native has kept up to the pace the Gators are at now. The team has now picked up the tempo at practice and with the addition of another body in Francis, everyone is benefitting.
“Even the past couple days since we’ve been back from break the practices have been really competitive,” forward Alex Murphy said. “With Brandone back, Eli, both teams are sort of like the orange and blue squad in practice now are pretty even keel so it’s been really competitive so it’s brought out the best in a few guys in the last few days.”
Although Francis won’t be able to play this season, Donovan is glad his freshman guard is improving in and out of the classroom.