Michael Frazier II emerged as a pleasant surprise for the University of Florida last season as a freshman, shooting 46.8 percent from 3-point range while providing scoring punch off the bench.
Frazier’s poise was apparent in the NCAA Tournament, where he made back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half that helped the Gators rally to a 62-50 win in the Sweet 16 against Florida Gulf Coast University.
This season, Frazier, a former Montverde Academy standout, has prepared for an expanded role. Florida coach Billy Donovan is counting on Frazier to make shots and provide offense with the departures of Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario. With senior guard Scottie Wilbekin facing a suspension to start the season, Frazier is expected to crack the starting lineup when the season opens Friday against North Florida.
“My team is going to need me to have an increased role this year,” Frazier said. “I knew that going into the summer. I’ve been really trying to expand my game.”
Frazier received a confidence boost when Donovan selected him to Team USA’s 19-under World Championship team over the summer. Team USA won the golf medal, but Frazier struggled finding his shooting stroke early before heating up late.
As a shooting specialist off the bench, Frazier finished the tournament just 29.4 percent from 3-point range from the international distance.
Donovan said Frazier’s teammates on Team USA encouraged him to keep shooting despite his early struggles. Frazier, meanwhile, contributed with intensity on defense and rebounding until he found his lost stroke.
“He learned a lot about himself because he went through some adversity,” Donovan said. “It wasn’t like he went out there and shot the cover off the ball and was non-stop, 50 percent 3-point shooter. That was anything from the truth. He had to work through some adversity.
“I think he handled it in a way that really helped him grow.”
Kevin Brockway is the men’s basketball writer at The Gainesville Sun. Contact him at 352-374-5054 or email at email@example.com. The Gainesville Sun and Daily Commercial are owned by Halifax Media Group.