Looking to beef up his frontcourt even after obtaining a transfer commitment from South Carolina power forward Damontre Harris on May 26, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan added another big body on Thursday when multiple outlets reported that Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith also decided to join UF next season. A four-star prospect, the No. 8 forward and the No. 31 overall player in the country in 2011, Finney-Smith finished his freshman year averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds while starting 30 of 33 games for the Hokies. He even earned an ACC All-Freshman Team nod. Now Finney-Smith will bring his 6'8" and 192 lbs. frame to the Gators, a team in desperate need of length. Florida does not have any players committed to the program for 2012 or 2013 checking in at 6'6" or taller but have since added two big bodies in Harris and Finney-Smith. Though neither will be able to play next season, as they will be redshirting due to NCAA transfer regulations, both will impact the team greatly by competing hard in practice against senior Erik Murphy and juniors Patric Young and Will Yeguete.
Interested to find out where he will begin his professional basketball career, Gators guard Brad Beal began his pre-draft workouts on Thursday when he performed live for the Washington Wizards. Beal was confident following the workout, which included some drills alongside former three-time NBA champion guard Sam Cassell, and said that he did his best to prove that he is talented enough to be a top-four pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. "I believe it went great," he said. "I made a lot of shots today and really showcased a lot of things I was capable of doing. I listened well, was very coachable and listened to everything coach wanted me to do. And I think I did a pretty good job today." Beal will next work out for Cleveland on Saturday before concluding his pre-draft workouts with Charlotte on Monday.
Not one but two former Florida players who also happen to be members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have had each of their last two seasons cut short due to injury. Center Maurkice Pouncey, who severely injured his ankle in 2010 prior to the Super Bowl and hurt it once again in 2011, had offseason ankle surgery but was able to participate in all four weeks of Pittsburgh's organized team activities. He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week that his ankle feels as healthy as ever. "I'm doing great so far," he said on Wednesday. "It feels awesome - the best I've ever felt." The news is not as good for tackle Max Starks, who was unsigned heading into the 2011 season due to neck and weight issues but wound up rejoining the team in the middle of the season after a number of other offensive linemen were injured. Despite Starks stepping into a starting role upon returning to the team, he has not been brought back this year after tearing his ACL in the last game of the season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a draft-mate of Starks in 2004, honored his unsigned friend by wearing his No. 78 practice jersey in minicamp for the second-straight season.
In his 10th year as coach of the Gators, Mike Holloway won his first NCAA Outdoor Championship and has now also earned his first National Men's Outdoor Coach of the Year award from the USTFCCCA. Holloway had already won three-straight NCAA Indoor Championships (2010-12) and consecutive National Men's Indoor Coach of the Year awards (2010-11) but had never achieved either honor for the outdoor season. He will now spend the remainder of his summer working with the U.S. National Team as an assistant coach in the 2012 London Olympics. Holloway will coach up sprinters and hurdlers heading into and during the games.
Now finally healthy after tearing his Achilles 10 months ago on the last play of a practice in August 2011, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler officially returned to practice this week as he was able to participate in individual drills with his helmet on. "It was a lot of fun and it was football again," he told the team's website. "All the [rehabilitation] stuff you do is meant to get you back playing football. When you get out there and put your helmet on - and I don't know how long it's been since I've had my helmet on - it feels really good. I've wanted to light somebody up since I went down." Siler only signed a one-year deal with Kansas City last year as he wanted to prove that he was a starting-caliber linebacker deserving of a long-term deal in 2012. He never had that opportunity but was pleased the Chiefs extended him for one more year to give him that chance once again.
Gators baseball begins action in the 2012 College World Series on Saturday at 9 p.m. (live on ESPN) as No. 1 Florida is set to take on No. 8 South Carolina in opening round action. UF will be rolling out junior left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson, who has had plenty of success against USC this season, to go against one of the best pitchers in the SEC in righty Michael Roth. The Gators are 3-1 this season against the Gamecocks after being swept by their SEC East rivals in the 2011 CWS Championship Series for the national title. Win or lose Florida will move on to play again on Monday in a to-be-determined game that will be previewed in the next edition of Orange & Blue News.