A key for new Florida basketball coach Michael White will be to establish relationships with players he inherited.
One of those notable players is versatile fifth-year senior power forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who led the Gators in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg) last season.
The 6-foot-9 Finney-Smith contemplated declaring for the NBA draft, but opted to return to UF in early April. In a statement regarding his return, Finney-Smith said he was “excited” to work with Billy Donovan. A month later, Donovan left UF for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
White has made getting to know Finney-Smith and other players on the roster a priority in his first month on the job.
“It’s been positive,” White said at SEC spring meetings in Destin. “It was obviously it was setback for him and for a few other guys, probably for all the guys on the roster, really. But Dorian and I have had extensive conversations. He’s a great young man and I think he’s very open.”
Finney-Smith overcame a broken hand in November to become arguably UF’s most consistent player during a disappointing 16-17 season in 2014-15. He also sat out three games due to a disciplinary suspension in February, but came back to average 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in his final five games, including a pair of double-doubles against Tennessee (20 pts, 10 rebounds) and Alabama (23 points, 11 rebounds).
Finney-Smith’s biggest growth in 2014-15 was from the perimeter. His 3-point shooting improved from 29.3 percent as a sophomore to 42.6 percent last season. That should fit with White’s style, who, like Donovan, gives his players freedom to shoot from beyond the arc.
“He understands there was a setback, but what’s he to do? He’s just, he’s going to deal with the situation at hand,” White said. “He’s got a chance to have a really strong senior year. I think he’s excited about getting to know us better and taking advantage of workouts and finishing as strong as possible.”