Wilbekin reinstated for Sunday

Wilbekin reinstated for Sunday

The Gators will get their starting point guard back for Sunday's matchup with Middle Tennessee State, but he won't take over that role immediately. Florida coach Billy Donovan reinstated Scottie Wilbekin on Friday morning after a three-game suspension to start the season. He won't be in the starting lineup in Tampa on Sunday but Donovan didn't rule out him earning his spot back.

"He's got to work back. He has missed a week of practice by his own doing," Florida coach Billy Donovan said before the team practiced Friday afternoon. "That's not to say he's never going to start here again. One of the things I feel like as a coach is that I don't believe in having a doghouse. He starts fresh and clean. I'd be making a mistake as a coach to keep holding onto it.

"I'm expecting him to move on and be committed to himself and the team. To say that he's never going to start again would be unfair to him and our team."

Florida announced the Scottie Wilbekin suspension on November 8, the day the team left for Jacksonville to play Georgetown on the USS Bataan. The reason for the suspension has remained undisclosed.

With the departure of Erving Walker after last year's season, Wilbekin was expected to step in and take over the point guard role. He did so in the exhibition game before the suspension occurred. The Gators were forced to adjust without him and moved Kenny Boynton into the role of the point guard in the first three games of the season.

Wilbekin has missed the last week of practice and will go through his first practice with the team on Friday. He still needs to work back into shape.

"He needs to move forward," Donovan said. "He has the opportunity the rest of the time he's here to prove himself on the court. If he does that, he has every opportunity to earn back what he has lost.

"He's very remorseful. When guys make mistakes, it's very easy to point fingers or casts blame elsewhere and try to say it's not my fault. I respect the fact that he has taken responsibility. He realizes that he needs to make an investment to the guys on this team."

There are players on the Florida team that Murphy can lean on, including senior forward Erik Murphy, who was arrested and accused of breaking into a car in April 2011. He had to work his way back on the team and is currently a key member of the Florida basketball team.

Murphy said he was going to talk to Wilbekin about how to put the situation behind him and learn from it.

"I can definitely help him and just talk to him about his situation," Murphy said of Wilbekin. "It's about trying to turn a negative into a positive."

The hope for Donovan is that Wilbekin learns from the suspension. The undisclosed incident off the court is one that Wilbekin has been remorseful for, but it's what has happened on the court that could also caught his eye. The Gators are 2-0 without him, including an impressive blowout win over No. 22 Wisconsin.

Donovan is hoping that changes Wilbekin's perspective.

"We've played well without him," Donovan said. "That's the humbling thing, to think that, ‘I made some mistakes and this program moved on without me.' That's a humbling experience and an experience where he feels like he has a good opportunity."

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