Eli Carter broke his leg last season at Rutgers, and while the injury is fully healed, Billy Donovan fears that it is still in the back of his mind and causing the guard to play slow.
The coaches have been able to ‘throw him in there and see what he can do’ during practice, but he continues to fight through soreness and shin splints.
“He’s fully healed, so he’s not in harm’s way of reinjuring himself,” Donovan said. “He’s fully healed, but he needs to get more strength in his foot, more strength in his calf. He needs to be more explosive. He needs to lose a little more weight. There’s things he needs to do to get back to that level. “
Forward Will Yeguete is cleared for contact and practicing with the team. The coaches are being smart with him and easing him into practice, but the senior forward doesn’t feel he will be able to scrimmage against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Late last week, sophomore guard Dillon Graham sprained his ankle in practice. He was expected to return to practice on Wednesday, but after taping it up before practice, he wasn’t able to run or cut comfortably. Donovan hopes to have him back at practice on Monday.
Without Graham during Saturday’s scrimmage, guard/forward Dorian Finney-Smith would see time at point guard, but he’s dealing with a strained tendon in his ankle. Donovan called the injury day-to-day and is unsure if he’ll be involved in the scrimmage.
Forward Casey Prather also missed three days with a hamstring injury but is back in practice.
Forward/center Damontre Harris recently returned to practice after missing a week while battling a hamstring injury. He’s back in practice, but according to Donovan, the redshirt junior is ‘really out of shape’ and has a ways to go before being back in basketball shape.
While sitting out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, Harris wasn’t able to practice after tearing his labrum. He has missed most of the basketball activities since getting to Gainesville and needs time to get in shape.
“He has missed a lot of conditioning and practice time,” Donovan said.
The Gators got good news late last week when sophomore guard Michael Frazier’s tests for mono came back negative. The team received the results on Thursday, and Frazier was back in practice that day.
“I’m 100 percent, been practicing,” Frazier said. “I’m trying to get my wind back. That’s the thing I’m trying to work on now.”
The Florida roster is starting to get healthier as the exhibition opener on November 1 gets closer, and Donovan continues to challenge the players to fight through smaller injuries if possible.
“Coach Donovan talked to us before practice and said we have to be tough and have a level of toughness,” Florida center Patric Young said. “If you’re dealing with an injury, ask yourself, ‘if it was Joakim Noah or Al Horford, would he try to play through this kind of thing?’ We just need that level of toughness and knowing the difference between being injured and being hurt.
“It’s a long season. If we’re not ready at the beginning of the season, it’s OK, we have plenty of other games down the road. As long as we peak at the right time, that’s all that matters.”