While most Florida Gators basketball players joined the team in the summer to train ahead of the 2014-15 season, freshman guard Brandone Francis was notably absent due to academic issues. He was eventually cleared to enroll at Florida, which he did on Aug. 24, but his grades did not meet the requirements needed for the NCAA to allow him to play college basketball with the Gators this season.
Head coach Billy Donovan noted this fall that Francis was doing well with his grades and could potentially be cleared to practice with Florida for the spring semester. That is exactly what happened on Friday when the Gators announced that Francis has passed through the NCAA Clearninghouse and is eligible to join the team for practice and other activities.
“It’s all worked out,” Donovan said in a school release. “The fact he’s out there and can be a part of the team is really big for him. The first semester was hard for him, not being able to be at practice or in film or in meetings. Now, it’s just good to have him in the locker room and ready to be a part of what we’re doing every day.”
Francis participated in his first practice on Friday.
Though he is still ineligible to play for Florida this season, Francis will do his best to make his presence felt in practice, just as sophomore center Chris Walker did during the fall semester last season and redshirt sophomore forward Alex Murphy has for the last year.
At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, the four-star prospect was the 35th-ranked player in the nation, according to Rivals. He spent part of the summer working out in Boston, Massachusetts, with veteran boxing trainer Marty Farrell, as he told OnlyGators.com in an exclusive interview prior to his enrollment.
“I’m ready to represent the Orange and Blue to the highest level I can,” said the Dominican Republic native, who idolized former Florida center Al Horford as a youngster.
After beginning the season 3-4, the Gators are on a four-game winning streak since Dec. 8, earning those victories by an average of more than 30 points per game. Florida has not played since Dec. 20 and will not suit up until Tuesday when it faces Florida State. UF will then close its non-conference slate against UConn on Saturday, Jan. 3.
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