When Michael Frazier II entered the basketball practice facility for the first time this season, he observed new surroundings.
Wearing his new Gators away jersey he looked around relaxed, smiled and laughed all the while being fully aware that the four starting seniors he played every game with last season weren’t there.
Frazier is the lone returning starter to return in a Florida jersey this season and as he glanced around he noticed the new faces on his team. But beyond that was a new role waiting for him to live up to.
That role is going from being a spot-up shooter every trip down the court to now evolving his attributes to take on a bigger role and find different ways to score.
In other words, Frazier is Florida’s No.1 option on offense now. He is the new leader that has experienced it all from last year’s journey and needs to implement that to the new faces on this year’s team.
Head coach Billy Donovan expressed that he’s waiting for some of the players to step up and evolve to the next level. That is something Frazier seeks.
“Definitely,” Frazier said with much conviction is his face. “Nothing but motivation. I’m the type that I don’t really need outside motivation. I’m so motivated internally, but things like that help adds to my fire. I’m ready.”
When Donovan approached the lectern for Florida’s basketball media day, he quickly addressed how his lone returning starter was going to be key.
But one thing Donovan said Frazier has revealed the most above any other player is consistency. In fact, he is the only player to have shown consistency.
Being consistent is something Frazier has learned and developed being under Donovan’s wing for years playing at Florida and playing on the Team USA U-19 squad that Donovan coaches.
Donovan now seeks for Frazier to take the next step forward, but is aware of the challenge.
“He [Frazier] was able to do the things he does well and that is shoot the basketball. This year is going to be different for him,” Donovan said. “I think he has worked really hard in understanding that. I think he understands what he’s up against this year. It’s a little bit different when you take the floor and you’re the fourth and fifth guy in the scouting report and maybe possibly move into the number one guy in the scouting report.”
Donovan added that there are circumstances that Frazier has never dealt with before and as a coach he has to help him through that process.
What we know of Frazier’s abilities is that he is arguably one of the best shooters in the country when it comes to the three-pointer.
Last season he certainly displayed that, averaging 12.4 points per game, making 118 three-pointer’s, which is a UF single-season record, shot a .447 clip from the three-point arc and scored 482 total points which more than doubles his freshman year total of 202.
Reflecting on those numbers only means the junior needs to increase again what he has done during his career at Florida.
There’s a couple of new things Frazier has been working on to add to his versatility on the court and that is his medium-range game, finishing at the basket and playing in the pick ‘n’ roll a lot more.
Although not practicing yet as a team this year, Frazier already has an idea of how the offense can operate this season compared to last.
“I think we are going to get up and down more,” Frazier said. “Trying to get more transition, easy buckets and just playing in the open floor more because we have so many good athletes on this team as opposed to last year. But we’re still going to have to execute in the half court.”
In some ways Frazier has already understood his role and knows much of the skill around him.
He believes this is the most talented team he’s been on since he has been playing basketball and he said he’s been on some good teams.
Besides that — as the only starter returning — Frazier believes his leadership is what will guide the other players toward the team’s first practice and throughout the length of the season.
It’s time for Frazier to be the rock and lead the Gators as their new leader and he’s prepared for it.
“I think guys are going to look at me and see how I respond to certain things and I have to lead by example,” Frazier said. “When things don’t go well I can’t get down on myself because if I do that other guys might look at me and get down on themselves and we can’t have that as a team. Doing what I do, working hard and the rest will take care of itself.”