Florida's Will Yeguete cleared
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida will have a full roster of healthy players for its game against Alabama on Saturday, but how much forward Will Yeguete and guard Michael Frazier II will play remains uncertain.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Thursday that doctors have cleared Yeguete (knee) and Frazier (concussion) to return. Yeguete has been out since having arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right knee on Feb. 8. Frazier suffered a concussion in Florida's victory over Arkansas last Saturday.
And in another bit of good news for the eighth-ranked Gators (22-5, 12-3 SEC), Donovan said doctors also have determined that swingman Casey Prather did not suffer a concussion against Tennessee on Tuesday night and also can play against Alabama.
But Donovan said he's cautioning his team not to get too caught up in having an eight-man rotation again for the first time since Feb. 2.
"Our guys that have been through the grind of most of the last month or so, they can't rest and relax," Donovan said. "They've got to understand that they've got to step up and they've got to play and they cannot take the approach of, 'Well, we're a little bit deeper. We have more guys available.' Because I just don't know if Frazier and/or Yeguete are going to be really able to be able to really provide some significant minutes for us."
The 6-foot-7 Yeguete, who is Florida's second-leading rebounder (6.3 per game) and a key part of the Gators' full-court press, ran sprints last Thursday and Friday, began cutting and shooting on Friday, and participated in pregame warmups on Saturday and Tuesday. Doctors monitored his knee for swelling each day, and cleared him to move forward when none was noted.
Thursday was his first full-contact practice since before his injury.
"My expectation on him going into the game is not very high just because I haven't seen him play," Donovan said. "Obviously he's got two days to practice, but I would be hard-pressed to believe he's going to be the same player before he was when he went down with his injury. It'll probably take him some time to get back but at least he can start working to get back in shape and get back in rhythm and timing and those kinds of things."
Yeguete doesn't have very high expectations for himself, either. He said he's not worried about Saturday yet and just wants to get through practice on Thursday and Friday. But he admitted he's excited and nervous to return.
"I feel like a little kid right now," he said. "I'm a little excited to get back out there. I feel like it's been a minute since I played with those guys and just be on the court and compete. But at the same time I'm not going to be 100 percent and not going to be able to go up and down for 30 minutes like a regular practice. So it's going to take time. It's going to be a process. I think [trainer] Duke [Werner] and the coaches know that, and I'm ready to go whenever they want me to go."
The 6-4 Frazier, who is Florida's top 3-point shooter (48.9 percent) and is shooting 54.9 percent from long range in SEC play, was injured when he dived for a loose ball with 11:42 remaining in UF's 71-54 victory against Arkansas. He passed concussion tests on Wednesday.
Prather suffered a cut on his forehead in the final minutes against Tennessee on Tuesday night. He also passed concussion tests on Wednesday.
"Obviously it's great to have those guys back," forward Erik Murphy said. "It gives us back a full team at full strength. But I think that doesn't give us any reason to expect anything out of them. Will's been out for, I don't even know how long at this point. But the guy hasn't played in a while and obviously he's going to come back, he's ready to come back, and he's going to get to where it was.
"But that may not be the case right away. It might take a little time. Frazier coming back, what he's able to do, his was a lot shorter. But we can't expect too much out of those guys. Everybody's got to stay on edge, continue to stay focused and do what they're doing."
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