The University of Florida’s drop/add process for the fall semester will conclude at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and the status of five-star 2013 power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) remains unsurprisingly unchanged – he will not join the Florida Gators for the fall but hopes to arrive on campus in December.
Walker, who OnlyGators.com reported in July was not expected to be academically eligible to play for head coach Billy Donovan in the fall due to a combination of lacking test scores and grades, spoke with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday to discuss his failure to get on campus and start his college career alongside friend, AAU teammate and five-star point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL).
“Now I understand how serious high school is, and that you can’t take the work lightly,” he said. “I didn’t do well, and work as hard as I should have early in high school.
“It’s a minor setback, and every day I’m working hard to get to Florida. My plan is to definitely be at Florida. I’m working every day to make sure I get to Gainesville.”
Though Walker improved his grades substantially over the summer by re-taking standardized tests and enrolling in online classes, the coaching staff knew months ago that Walker enrolling in the fall was a long shot at best.
Donovan and the Gators were resigned to giving Walker the time he needed to boost his grades and get on campus in December, just in time for the final few non-conference games and the start of the Southeastern Conference schedule.
Walker (6-foot-10, 225 pounds) is not out of the woods yet – he still has classes to complete and grades to improve – but he will be a big boost for Florida when he is able to enroll and becomes Donovan’s first-ever mid-season signee.
His length, athleticism and shot-blocking ability – which have him already being considered as a potential lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft – will solidify an already strong frontcourt that features seniors Patric Young (6-foot-9) and Will Yeguete (6-foot-8) and eligible transfers redshirt junior Damontre Harris (6-foot-10) and redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith (6-foot-8).
That combination of size, coupled with a young but talented backcourt, could give the Gators the boost they need to get past the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007.
Walker just hopes he can be a part of it and is prepared to contribute in any way he can.
“They’re loaded,” Walker said. “Whatever role Coach Donovan wants to use me, I’m good with it. I just want to get there and play college basketball.”