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

Florida Getting Healthy as Scottie Wilbekin, Kasey Hill to Play Against Kansas

Scottie WilbekinBy JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG

Florida will be getting two key pieces back this week and it’s going to happen for one of the most anticipated games on the nonconference slate.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the 19th-ranked Gators’ last game at UConn on Dec. 2, is expected to suit up when freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins and Kansas pay a visit to Gainesville on Tuesday evening.

Additionally, highly-touted freshman point guard Kasey Hill is expected to play. The McDonald’s All-American has been out since Nov. 18 after suffering a high-ankle sprain against Southern.

To read more of this story, click here

Chris Walker Could Debut This Month for Florida; Eli Carter to Redshirt (UPDATED)

Chris WalkerFlorida freshman Chris Walker is taking one online class and could potentially join the lineup by the Jimmy V Classic Dec. 17 in New York, according to a report by ESPN’s Andy Katz during UConn’s 65-64 victory over the Gators Monday.

The 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American out of Holmes County (Fla.) High School is attempting to reach the NCAA Division I level’s minimum requirement for freshman eligibility.

Florida is currently playing without several key players coach Billy Donovan had counted on, including Walker, point guard Kasey Hill (ankle), big man Damontre Harris (indefinite suspenion) and guard Eli Carter (broken leg), who will take a medical redshirt this year, sources told SNY.tv.

The Rutgers transfer broke his right leg in February of last season while at Rutgers. He was averaging 14.9 points per game.

Donovan told reporters Sunday that Carter would likely be redshirted. To read more of this story, click here

Florida Suspends Finney-Smith & Harris

Having already suspended guard Scottie Wilbekin indefinitely, Florida coach Billy Donovan added Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris to the list Thursday.

All three players are now suspended “indefinitely” due to violations of team rules, according to Chris Harry of GatorZone.com.

According to ESPN.com, Wilbekin will likely be suspended the first three games of the season and Finney-Smith and Harris will miss the first two.

The 6-foot-8 Finney-Smith (pictured) redshirted last season after averaging 6.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 2011-12 as a freshman at Virginia Tech.

The 6-10 Harris redshirted last year after averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds as a sophomore at South Carolina.

The 6-2 Wilbekin was suspended in June after averaging 9.1 points and 5.0 assists, second in the SEC, last season when the Gators finished 29-8.

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Devin Robinson to Florida (UPDATED)

Devin Robinson, a 6-foot-8, 175-pound forward from Christchurch (Va.) School, announced for Florida on Wednesday.

Robinson also considered Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Indiana..

UConn had been on his list, but Robinson cancelled his recent visit there.

Florida currently has two pledges in 2014 in point guard Chris Chiozza and shooting guard Brandone Francis.

“Devin has tremendous upside; his best basketball is ahead of him,” his coach, Ben Thompson, told SNY.tv. “He has the ability to shoot and score the ball. He impacts the game on both ends with versatility, is an underrated passer, rebounds well for his position and is a team player.” To read more of this story, click here