Image Credit: GatorVision
Ten months ago, Florida Gators forward DeVon Walker was planning to rebound from a torn ACL that cost him the entire 2014-15 season. With another year passing and his return from injury not having gone as planned, Walker will transfer from Florida, the school announced Monday morning.
“DeVon is an outstanding young man, and his we’re proud of him reaching an important milestone with his upcoming graduation,” head coach Mike White said in a statement.
Though Walker shot 30.9 percent from the field and scored 2.4 points per game as a youngster on the Gators’ veteran-laden team in 2013-14, he steadily improved down that season’s stretch, particularly from beyond the arc. That offseason, he gained 12 pounds of pure muscle and moved up to 203 pounds before seeing his subsequent year taken away by an untimely injury that occurred outside the gym.
“That was probably the hardest point in my life athletically. I just wanted to be out there with my guys and my brothers and actually play,” he explained last May. “That’s the toughest thing, wanting to actually be in the heat with them and endure a war with them – that’s what I wanted. You feel almost helpless like you can’t help them. I tried to do as much as I can with talking and inspiration, but I wish I could’ve done a little bit more.”
With so many new players joining the team this season, Walker was looked at as somewhat of a leader.
Unfortunately, the redshirt junior was unable to see any significant action after appearing to have broken out with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in UF’s second game. He did not play in 11 of Florida’s last 20 contests and averaged just 4.2 points per game in the nine he played since Jan. 12. Walker missed the final 21 shots of his career, failing to make a field goal in 18 games dating back to Dec. 1, 2015.
As a graduate transfer, Walker will be eligible to play immediately for his new team. A former three-star prospect and member of the Gators’ 2012 recruiting class, Walker was recruited heavily by former Florida assistant Matt McCall, who is now head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Walker will be one of a few players leaving the team this offseason. Redshirt senior forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy are set to graduate, though Murphy may apply for a medical redshirt that could grant him an additional year of eligibility as he missed nearly the entire 2015-16 season with a foot injury.
Barring additional attrition, and not including Murphy, Florida will return nine scholarship players for the 2016-17 campaign.