Macklin feels fortunate after rookie NBA season

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Former Gator center Vernon Macklin described his rookie season in the NBA as both “up and down” and “rocky.”

But although the 6-foot-10 Macklin didn’t play as much as former UF teammate Chandler Parsons, he said he felt like his first season with the Detroit Pistons was a learning experience.

Macklin, the 52nd overall pick in the second round by the Pistons in last June’s NBA draft, played 23 games as a rookie. He averaged 2 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in limited minutes.

“I was put in a good situation,” Macklin said. “There were a couple of guys that were drafted ahead of me that didn’t make their teams out of training camp. It was a good regular season. I learned a lot. Hopefully sophomore (second) year will be better.”

Macklin said he and Parsons were able to keep in touch during their rookie seasons. Parsons, picked 38th overall in the second round by the Houston Rockets, started 57 of 63 games for the Rockets, averaging 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

“It was actually fun watching him on TV, all of the tip-in dunks,” Macklin said. “I would call him all the time.”

Florida has gone the transfer route of late to fill holes in its team. Macklin, a Georgetown transfer, helped lead the Gators to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in his two seasons (2010, 2011) at UF.

The Gators are again looking for another big man after getting spurned in recruiting. South Carolina center Damontre Harris visited the UF campus last week. Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith also recently announced he’s leaving Virginia Tech. According to the Washington Post, the 6-foot-8, 192-pound Finney-Smith has interest in both Florida and Old Dominion.

Macklin and Finney-Smith are both Portsmouth, Va., natives and close friends. But Macklin said that Finney-Smith has yet to set any visits up.

“There are a lot of rumors out there right know with him,” Macklin said. “It was the same situation with me when I was at Georgetown. He doesn’t have any favorites right now. He just got his release (from Virginia Tech).”

Though the two have a close friendship, Macklin said Finney-Smith will need to make his own decision.

“He has to do what’s best for him,” Macklin said. “I’m very protective of him. I consider him like a little brother.’

Finney-Smith averaged 6.3 points and 7 rebounds per game, earning All-ACC freshman team honors. He went though a prolonged shooting slump during his freshman year, but has the ability to guard multiple positions.