Fricke’s return

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A bright spot to what has been a disappointing Florida basketball season was Wednesday night’s return of walk-on sophomore guard Hudson Fricke.

Fricke was medically cleared to play Wednesday morning after breaking both wrists during a freak weight-lifting accident. It happened when Fricke was bench pressing fee weights on an exercise ball last November during a strength and conditioning drill. Fricke said the exercise ball burst as he was bringing the bar down.

“Any time I’m going to get underneath a bench press like that, with that accident, it’s kind of in the back of your mind,” Fricke said. “I definitely won’t be on one of those exercise balls again.”

During the trip to the hospital, Fricke re-assured everyone he was going to be OK, and told them he was glad it was him and not Florida junior forward Dan Werner, who was next up on the drill.

“It was fortunate for our team at the time because Dan was playing really well,” Fricke said. “We would have been completely down without Dan for sure, looking back at all he has done this year. If it was him sitting out, we’d be a lot further behind, that’s for sure.”

Fricke said it was tough sitting out all season, but has found solace in spending time with teammates Adam Allen and Vernon Macklin. Allen has been out the entire season with knee problems. Macklin, a transfer from Georgetown, is practicing but can’t appear in games this season because of NCAA Division I transfer rules

“I’ve learned to be very patient,” Fricke said.

So it was somewhat surprising when Fricke got his chance Wednesday night late against Jacksonville, he didn’t shoot the ball. Fricke had two opportunities in the closing seconds, but would up turning the ball over instead of launching a shot toward the basket.

“We didn’t need to score too many more points,” Fricke said. “I know I had some chances. I was just trying to hold it out run out the clock.”

Other NIT notes:

* Florida coach Billy Donovan said Thursday that freshman Eloy Vargas could again see more playing time against Miami if freshman center Kenny Kadji is still not 100 percent. Kadji played just five minutes against Jacksonville after being limited in practice due to a knee problem and a bout with the flu. In a season-high 11 minutes against Jacksonville, the 6-foot-10 Vargas had one rebound, one blocked shot and three fouls. “He was OK,” Donovan said. “It was good for him to get a chance to play.”