Wednesday May 22, 2013 For Frazier, an opportunity that could mean the world
Updated: 3:56pm, May 22
Updated: 3:56pm, May 22
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The opportunity to represent his country both humbles and excites Michael Frazier II.
The mere honor of being one of 24 players invited to try out for USA Basketball’s U19 FIBA World Championship squad speaks for itself. But there’s an underlying perk to the process that has Frazier particularly jacked.
A built-in chance to get better. A lot better.
“This is going to make me work even harder,” Frazier said of the run-up to the tryouts next month and the June 14-19 training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Whether I make the team or not, just being in that setting, working with all the great players there, it’s going to be very motivating for me.”
Frazier, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard from Tampa, was one of the biggest surprises of the 2012-13 season for the Gators. He arrived last summer a far more polished product than even UF’s coaches anticipated, thanks to his year of prepping at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, and gave the team a jolt of outside scoring.
In 36 games, Frazier averaged 5.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and was one of the deadliest 3-point marksman in the Southeastern Conference, finishing at 46.8 percent from the arc on his way to being named to the league’s All-Freshman squad.
Now comes a doorway Frazier did not anticipate: a chance to wear the uniform of his country at the FIBA World Championships, set for June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic. To do so, he’ll have to line up and perform against the likes of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes, Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, plus 19 other elite players either already in college or entering this fall.
“I’ll have a level of respect for everybody there, but I’m also going to go there and play with confidence and play within myself,” Frazier said. “I want to show people what I can do.”
He’ll have at least one familiar face.
Billy Donovan will coach the U19 squad.
“There are going to be some exceptional players there,” Donovan said Wednesday. “But I think regardless of what happens in the tryouts, the experience of three or four days there is really going to help Mike get better.”
Frazier needs and wants to get better. In no way is he satisfied with how he performed last season, despite the accolades that came his way. And there’s plenty of room for growth, too.
Or as Donovan put it, “He’s going to have to do a lot more there than shoot the ball.”
Frazier’s role as 3-point specialist off the bench was ideal for him as a freshman and that facet of his game will be crucial for the Gators next season, with Florida losing the outside shooting punch of Erik Murphy, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario.
But Frazier intends to use the summer (both in Colorado and in Gainesville) to expand his game off the dribble, upgrade his defense and work on lateral quickness and conditioning.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “And my goal is to shoot better than I did last year. That means being a gym rat. The goal is to get better every day.”
If that means taking an international route, all the better.
For Frazier and the Gators.