Much has been written about Florida Gators freshman forward Chris Walker, who is set to play in his first career college basketball game after serving a 12-game suspension handed down by the NCAA.
Practicing with the Gators since Dec. 14, Walker has seven weeks of work under his belt and is expected to play a reserve role for Florida, primarily serving as a backup for seniors center Patirc Young and F Will Yeguete.
Here is what head coach Billy Donovan and his players had to say about Young heading into Tuesday night’s home game against the Missouri Tigers.
» Walker on playing his first game for the Gators (via Florida’s school website): “I’m going to be nervous, but I think it’ll go away once I get on the court and get up and down a little bit. It’s going to be crazy when I check in, the crowd and all. But I feel that will be good for me. I appreciate all the support they gave when I was dealing with this stuff. Now, I’m going to get a chance to do what I love to do. … Being a home game, my first game, I think my motor is going to be running like crazy. It’s going to be ridiculous. I’m just so excited. … I’m going to play like a maniac.”
» Donovan on working Walker into Florida’s regular rotation: “He was separated from our team and there was a lot of attention given to the fact of when he was going to be cleared to play. Right now there should be no attention to Chris because it’s about our team. He’s now a part of our team. He needs to be in a role with our team that, however he can contribute and help our team, that’s the most important thing. He’s a humble kid. He understands that coming in he has to do whatever he can to help, whether that’s three minutes, two minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes. It’s all going to be predicated on how he’s doing and what he’s doing to help our team with foul trouble, fatigue and those things. Chris is no different than any member of our team right now. He’s been here for over a month. He’s caught up somewhat – not fully caught up, but he’s caught up somewhat – and I’m happy for him that he can now put a uniform on and go out there and play and all this stuff is behind him. As it relates to anything else, he’s part of our team. It’s not our team and Chris Walker’s suspension; he’s part of our team.”