Updated: Friday, May 10 at 3:00 p.m.
For the second time in the last four offeasons, Florida Gators basketball has added a transfer from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as guard Eli Carter on Tuesday announced his intent to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.
“Proud to announce that I will be continuing my career at the University of Florida !! #Gators,” he tweeted at approximately 2 p.m.
Once former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice was fired for physically and emotionally bullying his players, a number of Scarlet Knights informed the school that they would be transferring. Carter (Paterson, NJ), a former three-star prospect and the No. 114 recruit in the nation as ranked by Rivals in 2011, first narrowed his options down to Florida and Maryland before deciding to pull the trigger for the Gators on Tuesday.
After Florida assistant Rashon Burno – who like Carter and Mike Rosario attended St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey under head coach Bob Hurley – reached out to the player in early April, Gators head coach Billy Donovan flew up north to meet with Carter and his family in their home on April 22.
Donovan convinced him to visit Florida and he obliged, spending time in Gainesville on Sunday and Monday. While in town, Carter told the Gators he would be attending Florida but made his intentions officially known to the public on Tuesday.
“Eli is a great addition to our team, and we’re pleased he’s a Gator now,” Donovan said in a school release on May 10. “I’m excited to get down to Florida, and I can’t wait to start gelling with the team and the coaches,” Carter added.
Hurley told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway that Donovan and Florida would be the perfect fit for Carter, should he decide to pick the Gators as his new team.
“Billy could certainly tighten up his game,” he said. “When you play for a losing team, there is a different approach when it comes to shot selection compared to when you are part of a team with more talent around you. You don’t have to take on that responsibility. Eli can do more by doing less [shooting].”
Though Carter does not have the same reputation that Rosario did when he linked up with Florida, he has similarly been a shoot-first offensive machine for Rutgers in his first two years with the program. He averaged 14.9 points per game last season but saw his sophomore campaign end early after he broke his leg in mid-February.
Carter scored 20 or more points eight times during the 2012-13 season, but Gators fans probably best remember him for going 12-for-24 for 31 points with seven rebounds and seven assists when the Scarlet Knights registered a two-overtime 85-83 upset victory over UF in Piscataway, NJ back on Dec. 29, 2011.
While he can certainly put the ball in the hoop, Carter must allow Donovan and the coaching staff to help him become a more consistent shooter. After hitting 41 percent of his shots and 35 percent of his threes as a freshman, his averages fell to 38 percent and 32 percent, respectively, during his sophomore campaign.
Whether or not Carter will be able to play for Florida next season remains to be seen. Normally, transfers are forced to miss a year and take a redshirt season due to NCAA transfer rules. However, Carter will petition the NCAA for a waiver due to the situation with Rice and may have the opportunity to contribute for the Gators in 2013-14 should the organization grant his request.
When Carter initially made his intention to transfer known, he took the 13th and final scholarship that Florida had available. Since then, the Gators have seen two players transfer out of the program.
Photo Credit: Rutgers University