Last week I discussed the two new freshmen that will be joining the Florida basketball team in 2013. Now let me introduce to you to the two fresh faces that have transferred to join the Gators next season, Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris. Florida struggled to sign an impact big-man in their 2011 recruiting class but made up for doing so with two impressive transfers.
The big news Monday was the return of Patric Young, who will bolster an already strong lineup heading into 2013. The Gators were already aligned to have a great frontcourt next season and with the newly added additions may have one of, if not the best, frontcourt in the country in 2013 due to their depth and talent.
Let us start with Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith, or “Doe-Doe” as he is nicknamed. Finney-Smith comes to Florida after spending one year at Virginia Tech. After a coaching change, the 6’8”, 210lb small forward decided to transfer. In a down year overall as transfer markets go, Finney-Smith was considered the gem, as he had some serious raw talent as the 22nd ranked player in the country coming out of high school. Dorian chose the Gators over Marquette, Georgetown, Iowa State, Villanova, Texas and Alabama.
A starter and ACC All-Freshman performer in 2012, Finney-Smith was an immediate starter for the Hokies. The Portsmouth, Va. native’s combination of athleticism and 6’8” frame for a small forward present numerous matchup issues for opposing defenses. “I think Doe-doe’s a very versatile player,” Donovan said of his new transfer. “He can play a couple different positions.” Think Erik Murphy but less of a shooter, and more of a drive to the basket type player who can also provide the Gators with a strong-bodied rebounder. Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and seven rebounds as a freshman for the Hokies.
Despite clearly being talented, the reason Finney-Smith didn’t stand out much at Virginia Tech was that he wasn’t developed enough physically to be a dominant presence in the college game early on. That’s the same problem I expect incoming-freshmen Chris Walker to experience when he first plays against division one caliber talent. That being said, I have heard numerous reports from players saying that Finney-Smith was the best player on the practice court multiple times during last season, that’s saying something. Finney-Smith will have three years of remaining eligibility to play at Florida and could develop into a premier player before his time is done in Gainesville.
Billy Donovan’s second transfer of 2012 was center Damontre Harris by way of the University of South Carolina. Harris is a bulky 6’10”, 230lbs that is a load to move under the basket. Harris posted similar stats to Finney Smith in the 2011-2012 season, averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during his sophomore season. Harris chose the Gators over the Kansas Jayhawks when transferring.
Where Harris really shines is on the defensive end, a trait that must have Billy Donovan smiling for ear to ear. Elected to the SEC All-Defensive team player at South Carolina in 2012, Harris averaged 2.3 blocks per game, second in the SEC only to future number one NBA draft pick and block guru Anthony Davis at Kentucky.
Donovan highlighted the defensive abilities in his press conference Wednesday, “Probably the first time in a while we’ve had shot blocking center, you know, with Damontre if he can remain healthy.” Harris has a body structure and style of play I’d probably compare most similar to former Florida Gator and Georgetown-transfer Vernon Macklin. Harris will provide the Gators with a solidified five spot, allowing Patric Young to maximize his incredible athletic ability more on the court. Harris will have two years of eligibility left at Florida entering next season.
Finney-Smith and Harris will both contribute for Florida next season. Minutes will have to be earned next season, as Florida will have a host of talent with Finney-Smith, Harris, Prather, Young and Yeguete all staking a claim to starting spot in the frontcourt. I expect Finney-Smith to start at small forward and Harris to come off the bench. Both players fill roles for Florida that they simply didn’t have last season. Harris is a tough defensive center and Finney-Smith is a matchup nightmare, attack-the-rim type small forward.
What will be interesting to watch next season is if Billy Donovan switches out of his traditional three-point shooting barrage “Billy Ball” offense. With the amount of talent the Gators will have down low, they will be able to punish most teams they face down low if they want to. Couple a strong post presence with two versatile point guards in Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin, as well as a three point machine with Michael Frazier, and the Gators will be a force to be reckoned with in 2013.