Florida’s Chris Walker Cleared to Play

Chris Walker, a 6-foot-10 freshman at Florida, has been cleared to play next Tuesday against Missouri by the NCAA.

Walker will have missed 12 games dating to when he began practice in December — 40 percent of his season — due to him accepting cellphones, airfare, lodging and more while a prospect. He will have to donate $270 to a charity and serve 80 hours of community service.

When he returns, though, Florida coach Billy Donovan doesn’t expect any miracles. To read more of this story, click here

Source: Florida’s Walker Could Miss Entire Season; Mock Draft Has Him Going No. 20 to Celtics (UPDATED)

There is still no word from the NCAA on Florida’s Chris Walker and it’s possible he could miss the entire season, an NCAA source told SNY.tv Wednesday.

“Him not playing at all this season remains a possibility,” the source said.

A McDonald’s All-American, Walker is projected as the No. 10 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com. Yet on Chad Ford’s new Big Board, Walker is projected as the No. 20 pick in 2014 to the Boston Celtics, who are also projected to take Australian point guard Dante Exum at No. 4.

Walker joined the team on Dec. 14, but has yet to play while the NCAA takes an extended look into his situation.

Meantime, Florida coach Billy Donovan sounds increasingly frustrated by the situation and said he didn’t expect the 6-foot-10 freshman to play Saturday vs. Tennessee.

“As it relates to Chris, just listen to us and our school. I’m not going to address it anymore,” Donovan said, according to USA Today. “Certainly we’re hopeful he gets back soon but there’s been no indication that there’s any truth to that at all [playing Saturday]. Whenever he gets cleared, and certainly we all hope it’s soon, believe me, I’m not going to throw a guy in a game and have him pop up and you guys not be aware of it. The minute he gets eligible, cleared, and he’s able to play, I’ll let you know. Anything else that’s out there about that is not true.” To read more of this story, click here

Mitchell Enjoys Florida Visit, UConn Next

NEW YORK -- Brewster (N.H.) Academy 2015 point guard Donovan Mitchell visited Florida Monday and will also take in a UConn game later this month.

“[Florida] said I would be a wing and play guard,” the 6-foot-3, 205-pound native of Elmsford, N.Y, told SNY.tv. “They need me as a scorer and to make plays as well as their other guards. I liked the facilities a lot. The gym is huge and I like the fan base as well. I like the coaching staff a lot as well.”

Mitchell was in Florida for the City of Palms Classic but was limited due to a sprained ankle.

Mitchell’s Florida offer was reported last month by SNY.tv.

He will next trip to Bridgeport, Conn., for the Eastern Washington-UConn game Dec. 28. To read more of this story, click here

Brandone Francis: ‘Florida Has a Chance To Do Something Special’

IMG_2599

By JACK LeGWIN

Special to ZAGSBLOG

COLUMBIA, S.C.- Brandone Francis has high hopes for his first year in college.

“I feel like we have a shot to do something special,” Francis told SNY.tv. “I just wanna get out there with my new teammates next year, Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson, and employ what we can do for the team.”

When asked if he wanted Chris Walker — projected as a lottery pick by some mock drafts — to come back for another year, he was emphatic with his answer. To read more of this story, click here

Duke Transfer Alex Murphy to Florida

In a widely expected move, Duke transfer Alex Murphy announced he’s headed to Florida.

“I really appreciate the experience at Duke, playing for a Hall of Fame coach in Mike Krzyzewski,the 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore told ESPN.com. “I learned a lot as a player and a person.

“I’ve gotten a chance to know Coach (Billy) Donovan and the program. I think it’s a great fit for me to continue my career. I think they can help me develop as a player — and that I can help them a lot as well.” To read more of this story, click here

After Surviving Tough Early Stretch, Florida Hoping For Another March Run

Florida Gators v UCLA BruinsBy JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

NEW YORK - Whether it be injuries to Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin, indefinite suspensions to Wilbekin, Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris, or simply a tough early schedule, the University of Florida has had to deal with a lot through 10 games.

Whatever the issue was, Gators head coach Billy Donovan has had an answer. His team is ranked 16th and is 8-2 following a 77-75 win over Memphis late Tuesday evening at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

With the suspensions in the past and everyone now able to play, with the exception of heralded 5-star recruit Chris Walker for the time being, the question now becomes, with a cast of hardened veterans and capable younger guys, how good can the Gators be down the road?

“I think they’ve been through a lot and I think we have good chemistry,” Donovan told a small group of reporters late Tuesday night. “I think they care about each other, I think they’re doing the best job they can leadership-wise, but the season is so long and I still think we can get better and improve. I do know I like dealing with these guys. When we walk on the court to play, it’s not like our guys are overwhelmed. They’ve seen just about everything.”

To read more of this story, click here

Back From Suspension, Wilbekin Pacing Florida

Scottie Wilbekin 2By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

NEW YORK – Scottie Wilbekin was suspended indefinitely in June, an absence that would stretch all the way into November and last the first five five games of the season.

The message that came along with this indefinite suspension, the second of his career under head coach Billy Donovan, apparently got through to the Gainesville native.

“Totally different kid,” Donovan said when asked how Wilbekin has grown up after the Gators defeated Memphis, 77-75, at the Jimmy V Classic late Tuesday evening. “I think sometimes, in life, you sometimes go through real difficult, adverse situations where your back gets put against the wall and you’ve got to make some corrections and changes and do things a little bit differently. It forces you to focus on yourself and take a real deep look at yourself.”

To read more of this story, click here

Donovan: Chris Walker Isn’t a ‘Savior’ (But He Might Turn Out to be Pretty Good)

NEW YORK — Billy Donovan’s strategy regarding Chris Walker is simple.

Under-promise and hope to over-deliver.

The Florida coach is going to intentionally under-sell Walker’s capabilities because he doesn’t want a big fuss made over his star freshman and his mid-season debut.

“People are talking about Chris Walker like he’s going to become eligible and be the savior of the program,” Donovan said after his No. 16 Gators edged No. 15 Memphis, 77-75, thanks to Casey Prather’s 22 points in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s a high school player who hasn’t played competitive basketball since the end of February last year.” To read more of this story, click here

Chris Walker Practices With Florida (UPDATED)

In a move that could alter the balance of power in college basketball going forward, Chris Walker began practice at Florida on Saturday wearing No. 23, sources confirmed to SNY.tv.

The 6-foot-11 freshman has completed his online academic work and was admitted to the university. He now awaits word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

A McDonald’s All-American, Walker was ruled academically ineligible for the fall semester. To read more of this story, click here

Chris Walker Close to Florida Debut, Won’t Play vs. Memphis

Chris Walker is close to making his college debut for Florida, but won’t compete against Memphis Dec. 17 in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

“I would say him playing in the Memphis game is not going to happen, no,” Florida coach Billy Donovan told reporters Monday.

It had been thought that Walker might debut in the Memphis game.

Donovan said the 6-foot-11 Walker has completed his online academic work and his fate now rests with the Florida admissions department and the NCAA Clearinghouse. To read more of this story, click here