Michael Frazier II experienced few struggles as a freshman last season.
Frazier, who was named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman team, shot nearly 50 percent from behind the three-point arc as a key reserve for the Gators.
But as a member of the USA men’s U19 squad this summer, Frazier was forced to re-evaluate his play. Usually a dependable shooter, he made just 32.4 percent of his shots from the floor while playing in nine games at the FIBA U19 World Championships overseas.
Billy Donovan, who coached Frazier and the rest of Team USA to a gold medal in the Czech Republic, said Frazier needed a challenge during the summer to build his strength and confidence.
“He learned a lot about himself because he went through some adversity,” Donovan said. “It wasn’t like this thing where he came out there and shot the cover off the ball and just non-stop 60 percent three-point shooter.
“That was anything but the truth. He had to work through some adversity, and I think he handled it in a way that really helped him grow.”
The 6-foot-4 guard from Tampa was one of 26 players invited to the USA U19 training camp in June. He survived several rounds of cuts to earn one of the team’s 12 roster spots.
While the rest of his teammates shined during their 88-29 victory against the Ivory Coast in the first game of the tournament, Frazier shot a team-low 1 for 8, including 0 for 4 behind the arc.
Only a couple of months removed from a season when he sunk 46.8 percent of his threes, Frazier’s three-point shooting percentage dipped to 29.4 while playing for Team USA.
Frazier said the opportunity to face professional players at such a young age has given him more maturity on and off the court entering this season with the Gators.
“Being able to play against pro talent, because those guys overseas are already playing pro, was probably the biggest thing, being able to compete on that level,” Frazier said.
“I had to raise up all levels of my game because I was playing with such high-talented guys. In that kind of atmosphere, playing with those kind of players, it forces you to raise up your game.”
With Frazier having a year of college experience and a summer of international experience under his belt, Donovan said he expects him to have a larger presence on the court during his sophomore year at UF.
With Scottie Wilbekin still under suspension and the losses of Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario to graduation, Frazier is expected to get more minutes at shooting guard. He could also see time at small forward.
In 36 games last year, Frazier averaged about 18 minutes per contest, which was the most among Florida’s freshmen.
“There will have to be some changes and adjustments on the offensive end of the floor just because we are different,” Donovan said.
“We’re not the same shooting team we were a year ago, losing Murphy, Boynton and Rosario. Those three guys started pretty much every single game. Michael Frazier, it was great to be together with him this summer with (USA Basketball), but he’s totally stepping into a different role and responsibility and different challenge.”
Follow Jonathan Czupryn on Twitter @jczupryn.