Dorian Finney-Smith will return to Florida to play his senior season for the Gators, the school announced in a release late Thursday afternoon.
Finney-Smith, aka “Doe-Doe,” made the decision to come back for his fifth-year senior season Tuesday after a long meeting with Coach Billy Donovan and enlisting the input of NBA scouts regarding his draft potential.
"I got all the information I needed to make a decision," said Finney-Smith, who led the team in both scoring (13.1 points per game) and rebounding (6.2 per game) and garnered second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors during the 2014-15 season. "He didn’t pressure me into anything, but rather let me be a grown man. Coach D is a mentor to me, I trust him and I’m happy and anxious to have another year with him."
"I feel like we’ll have a great team coming back and we’re going to do what it takes to lift the program back and play basketball the Florida culture way,” Finney-Smith said. “I got better, but it was a learning experience being a leader. Now, I’m anxious to build on everything I learned."
Finney-Smith's return comes as a bit of a surprise given the momentum of the program at the moment. Michael Frazier II's decision to leave Florida for professional basketball was surprising in its own right, but it was also seen as a hint that Finney-Smith and others might be out the door.
And on this Thursday, with rumors swirling anew about Billy Donovan's interest in the NBA — despite a report about him signing a contract extension through the 2019-20 season — it is striking to read Finney-Smith quotes about how Donovan "is a mentor" to him, and how "anxious" he is to play for him again.
Finney-Smith's return means the 2015-16 Florida roster will have one of the two players who scored more than 10 points a game for the Gators in 2014-15 on it, regardless of the coach in charge of that group of players. But it also means there's still more attrition expected: Florida will need to shed one more player currently projected to be on a basketball scholarship in 2015-16 to bring its outlay to the maximum 13 scholarships alloted by the NCAA.