Donovan pleased with ability of freshmen


Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 11:59 p.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said he doesn't expect any impact players to emerge in the 2012 freshman class.

“Do I see any of those guys like I did at this point in time last year like Brad Beal? No,” Donovan said. “But he was the third player taken in the (NBA ) draft.”

But Donovan has been pleased with the attitude of the freshmen and their ability to push through fatigue. Whether that translates into any of the four serving a significant role this season remains to be seen.

“Their heads are spinning right now,” Florida junior center Patric Young said. “It's so much with the pick-and-roll coverages and the help defenses and all of the new plays. It's tough to tell right now, but coming closer to the exhibition games, we'll see.”

Here's a quick look at Florida's four incoming freshmen:

Dillon Graham, guard (6-4, 197): Graham grew up a Gator fan and was known for his deep shooting range at Orlando First Academy. He said he's still adjusting to the speed and physicality of the game in practice.

“These guys are a lot bigger than high school guys,” Graham said. “You've got to be able to adjust pretty quick.”

Graham said his shooting skills have carried over in the first week of practices.

“I've shown I can definitely shoot the ball pretty far,” Graham said. “I'm working on my dribbling and attacking the basket and finishing at the hole.”

Michael Frazier, guard (6-4, 200): A Tampa native, Frazier grew up a big Ray Allen fan and has emulated his game after the NBA sharpshooter.

Frazier said he gets between 300-400 shots up each day at different spots on the floor.

“Just go around the 3-(point arc), do different off the dribble stuff, catch-and-shoot movements,” Frazier said.

Frazier credited his senior year in high school at Montverde Academy in Clermont in helping him grow to become a more well-rounded player. Montverde coach Kevin Boyle said Frazier has become a better on-the-ball defender.

“I'm getting better at it every day because (Coach Donovan) is preaching we've got to be a defensive-minded team,” Frazier said. “We've got to get stops to be successful.”

Braxton Ogbueze, guard (6-0, 182): Ogbueze was known as a strong mid-range shooter and solid point guard at United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C.

Donovan said Ogbueze will start the season as a combo guard, playing some off the ball and some at the point until he gains command of UF's intricate motion offense.

“Point guard is a tough position but I know at the University of Florida, I'm getting great teaching,” Ogbueze said. “I'm taking it in day-by-day and it's making me a better player.”

DeVon Walker, guard/forward (6-6, 191): Walker, a Winter Haven native, was a former point guard who went from 5-10 as a high school freshman to 6-6 in his senior year.

Walker said he feels he still has the handling skills as a point guard, but will be counted on more to bring depth and athleticism to the small forward position. Walker averaged 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists as a senior at Winter Haven High.

“I'm not going to sit here and say I want to be one certain thing,” Walker said. “Whatever coach wants me to be, I'll be right now.”

FREE THROWS: Florida junior forward Will Yeguete added bulk has helped challenge Young in practice. The 6-foot-7 Yeguete is at 240 pounds, up 16 pounds from last season. Yeguete also said his body fat percentage dropped by one percent compared to last season. “It's a big improvement compared to last year,” Young said. “He doesn't get pushed around anymore. He's made his presence known, especially in the post offensively and defensively. It's really hard to push that guy anywhere anymore.” … With the shoulder injury to junior transfer center Damontre Harris, Yeguete is going head-to-head more with Young in practice at center. Yeguete said he's also playing power forward but not much at small forward.

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