With a Fourth Final Four in Hand, Billy Donovan Continues to Deflect All Praise

Florida Gators v UCLA BruinsBy JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

With 13 seasons under his belt at the University of Florida and at the age of only 47, Gators head coach Billy Donovan is considered by many to be a coaching icon.

The Long Island native has steered the Gators to four Final Fours, back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007, and has 486 career victories to his credit. His current version of the Gators has won 29 games in a row going into a national semifinal Saturday night against Connecticut and remain the favorite to cut down the nets in Dallas on Monday night.

In this current landscape, Donovan is undoubtedly among the heavyweights of his profession. However, if you ask the man himself about his place among the coaching elite, he’ll do what all great coaches do. He gives the credit to his players. To read more of this story, click here

Freshman Focus: NBA Scouts Say Chris Walker Should Stay

Even though he has just made his college debut, Florida freshman forward Chris Walker has appeared on some Mock Drafts for 2014.

ESPN’s Chad Ford has Walker going at No. 20 to the Boston Celtics, and also has Australian point guard Dante Exum going No. 4 to Boston.

But multiple NBA scouts say the 6-foot-9 Walker should stay at least one more year.

“He is a raw athlete that can run the floor, block a shot and dunk,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv. “He needs to develop an offensive game. Needs to stay another year.” To read more of this story, click here

Chris Walker Makes Debut for Florida

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at FloridaBy JACK LeGWIN

Special to ZAGSBLOG 

Chris Walker made his long-awaited debut Tuesday night in a 68-58 win over Missouri and helped to stretch Florida’s home winning streak to 28.

The ultra-athletic Walker had 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks in 7 minutes of action, which included two big alley-oops thrown from former Florida Rams AAU teammate Kasey HillTo read more of this story, click here

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’

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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