Nearly six months after initially deciding to transfer to the Florida Gators, junior guard Eli Carter learned that the NCAA has granted his waiver to play immediately, according to CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Borzello. The report has since been confirmed by UF.
Carter, who committed to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in 2011 but decided to leave the program following the scandal involving then-head coach Mike Rice, averaged 14.9 points in 28.8 minutes per game during his sophomore season.
He joins a Florida team in need of backcourt scoring help after losing two veteran guards – Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario – to graduation after the 2012-13 season. Boynton and Rosario combined for 24.5 points per game last season.
Though he is now eligible to play, whether Carter is healthy enough to step on the court for the Gators in 39 days (Nov. 8 vs. North Florida) remains to be seen. He has not yet been medically cleared by UF’s doctors and trainers.
On Feb. 16 in a game against DePaul, Carter gruesomely fractured his right fibula [GIF] when he was fouled early in the second half on his way to the basket for a layup.
Though he was initially expected to make a full recovery without surgery, Carter went under the knife on Feb. 28. He was told by surgeons and trainers that he would be able to resume running in June.
It is the second time in the last four offseasons that Florida added a transfer from Rutgers as Carter is following in Rosario’s footsteps. He was a three-star prospect and the No. 114 recruit in the nation as ranked by Rivals in 2011 and chose UF over Maryland as his transfer destination.
Gators assistant Rashon Burno – who like Carter and Rosario played at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey under head coach Bob Hurley – reached out to the player in early April. Head coach Billy Donovan then flew up north to meet with Carter and his family in their home after learning of their interest.
“Eli is a great addition to our team, and we’re pleased he’s a Gator now,” Donovan said in a school release from 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.
Carter scored 20 or more points eight times during the 2012-13 season, but Florida fans probably best remember him for going 12-for-24 for 31 points with seven rebounds and seven assists when Rutgers 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.
Photo Credit: Rutgers University