Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Tampa's Frazier lands SEC player of the week

GAINESVILLE — In his mind, Michael Frazier is nowhere near the player he hopes to become. He's still working on improving his defense, and admits he's sometimes too hard on himself when his shots aren't falling.

But that doesn't mean he's not playing well, particularly this past week.

On Monday, the Gators' sophomore guard from Tampa was named SEC player of the week.

Frazier averaged 17.5 points, three rebounds and 2.5 assists in wins at Alabama and against Tennessee. He hit 48 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and against Alabama had five 3-pointers for the fifth time this season, more than any UF player had last year. He also matched a career-best three assists in the game. He made every free throw in both games.

"It's a great honor," Frazier said Monday. "But it just shows that hard work pays off. Continue to strive to get better each and every day. Continue to focus on the team."

Frazier is averaging 12.3 points and 3.4 rebounds.

"He can shoot the ball," senior F Will Yeguete said. "He's quite a leader. I think he's going to be able to lead us, as well. He's loud. And he's been a better defensive player. The way he shoots the ball, that helps us a lot."

RISE IN POLLS: Florida moved up three spots on Monday to No. 3 in the AP poll, and is ranked No. 4 in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll. The No. 3 ranking is the highest for the Gators since they were No. 2 the week of Feb. 4, 2013 — before losing to Arkansas that week.

QUICK TURNAROUND: For the second straight week, the Gators have a 48-hour turnaround between games. Florida will play at Mississippi State on Thursday, then host Texas A&M on Saturday. Florida is 17-1 under coach Billy Donovan in Thursday-Saturday games. He said he doesn't know the reason for that success, but having a group like his four seniors is a positive.

"You've got to have a group of guys that if you can't drill it as hard as you want to because time, fatigue doesn't allow it, I think you've got to have a group of guys that can get through those things with an understanding of what they're going to have to do and need to do with that situation," Donovan said.

WALKER NO SAVIOR: Gators freshman Chris Walker continues to await word on his playing status from the NCAA Clearinghouse, but in the meantime he's practicing with the team and working on getting college-ready. He's also gaining a cult-like status with Twitter followers using the hashtag #freechriswalker. And that, Donovan said, has him more concerned than anything.

"My biggest fear for Chris is you have a highly explosive player and sometimes when the guy's not playing, the legend of Chris Walker grows greater than who he really actually is," Donovan said.

"It's the same thing with Doe-Doe (transfer Dorian Finney-Smith) last year. He's sitting out, and everyone's talking about this guy like he's Magic Johnson. Chris Walker now, it's like, my God, this guy is going to end up being Kevin Garnett. I mean, he's not that. And I think if anybody, whenever he gets able to play, if that's your expectation of Chris Walker, then you're going to be very, very disappointed.

"And my biggest fear for him is there's a level of anticipation or excitement whenever he gets cleared to play, but I hope that there is at least a level of understanding in terms of how much he's missed coming in to where he's coming in and if anybody's expecting him to be a savior, it would really be unfair."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TBTimes_Gators.

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