The Florida Gators on Saturday announced the dismissal of redshirt junior center Damontre Harris, who transferred into the program from South Carolina before the start of the 2012-13 season and was supposed to be a big-time contributor in 2013-14.
Harris took a redshirt last year as mandated by NCAA transfer rules but also dislocated his shoulder and was unable to practice with the team during the majority of the season. He was cleared to play with Florida this year but never stepped foot on the court.
Originally expected to return to the Gators after a multiple-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Harris apparently fell into some issues off the court and was unable to get out of head coach Billy Donovan‘s doghouse.
“He was never disrespectful as far as his attitude. He was a nice kid and never blamed anybody for what was happening,” Donovan said ambiguously in a statement on the school’s website. “We tried to help him off the court and help him with some of the challenges he was dealing with. But there was never this reciprocation of wanting to be helped or wanting to do the things necessary [to stay on the team].”
According to UF, Harris will complete his coursework for the fall semester and be in “good academic standing” as he looks for a new institution for which to transfer. Donovan was harsh but honest when discussing whether he felt Harris would have a chance to play basketball elsewhere.
“It may mean him getting to a place where he can play the game on his terms,” he said in the statement from the school. “Someone may let him do that. Here, it’s not our philosophy or belief.”
Florida notes that Harris and Donovan had the meeting of the minds a month ago but no subsequent contact was made by the player following that get-together.
“The things we were asking him to do weren’t anything out of the norm. But we’d go a week without hearing from him. He wouldn’t return our phone calls or text messages. His teammates didn’t know where he was,” Donovan continued in the release.
“I think he realizes that a big opportunity for him is now gone. The thing I tried to get across to him, if he has any aspirations of playing professional basketball there is not one team in this country or overseas that is going to tolerate this type of behavior, and I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t hold him accountable for these things.”
Harris was expected to play a major role for the Gators this season as the team looked to advance past the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. He was slated to serve as the back-up center behind senior Patric Young, someone who would give Florida immense frontcourt depth.
Photo Credit: Associated Press