Damontre Harris leaves Florida Gators for good

Center Damontre Harris, who sat out two seasons with the Florida Gators due to NCAA transfer rules and team discipline, will leave the program without stepping on the court and playing a single game.

Harris’s departure was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein but confirmed minutes later by Florida on Wednesday.

A source close to the team told OnlyGators.com last month that Harris gave tremendous effort in practice during the spring semester and was impressing on the court. However, a second source noted last week that Harris reverted to old form when the offseason began, indicating that his time at UF would likely to come to an end before the 2014-15 campaign as he was already missing team activities.

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Michigan F Jon Horford transfers to Florida

Updated on Tuesday, May 13 at 5 p.m.

Forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators standout Al Horford, has decided to play out his final year of eligibility in Gainesville, Florida, according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.

Entering his redshirt senior campaign, Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be eligible to play immediately due to the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption after receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan in May.

The school announced his transfer on May 13, noting that he started graduate-level classes when the Summer A semester began on May 12.

Florida has a crowded frontcourt in 2014-15 but should be able to find a fair amount of playing time for Horford. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest last season and originally decided to transfer to see more time on the court.

That may not be possible with the Gators, which will have sophomore Chris Walker, redshirt senior Damontre Harris, redshirt juniors Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy, and five-star incoming freshman Devin Robinson in the frontcourt.

Walker is likely to start at power forward or center next to either Harris or Murphy with Finney-Smith playing small forward. Horford will give Florida a big body and great energy off the bench to spell Walker and Harris but could see an uptick in playing time should Harris once again fall out of favor with the program.

With Horford’s transfer, UF has filled its final scholarship for the 2014-15 campaign.

Four-star guard Brandone Francis and four-star point guard Chris Chiozza are the other two incoming freshman aside from Robinson. All three first-year players are ranked among the top 42 prospects in the nation for 2014, according to Rivals.com.

Murphy will not be eligible until the spring semester after transferring in the middle of the 2013-14 season; however, the Gators plan to petition the NCAA for a waiver that would allow the legacy to play at the start of the campaign.

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TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

1 » According to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman, redshirt junior forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators F Al Horford, is heavily considering choosing to play the final year of his collegiate career in Gainesville, FL. Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be a redshirt senior in 2014-15 and cleared to play without having to sit out a season. He registered 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for Michigan last season and decided to transfer in order to get more playing time. That is one reason why a move to Florida was not believed to be on the table previously. Though the Gators are in need of frontcourt players, they do have freshman Chris Walker and redshirt junior Damontre Harris at center next season. Florida will also play redshirt juniors Alex Murphy (currently not scheduled to be eligible until the spring), redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Devin Robinson, though the latter two players will likely play small forward. Horford’s addition would fill UF’s remaining 2014-15 scholarship but not affect the allotment for 2015-16.

2 » Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley has spent the last seven months rehabilitating his torn ACL but is finally getting the chance to show NFL teams what he can do on Thursday as he is participating in a private Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Joining Easley for the workout are outside linebackers Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, who also participated in Florida’s first Pro Day one month earlier on March 17. Easley recently completed a visit with the Dallas Cowboys, his first private trip, and is expected to go on many more after his Pro Day workout is complete. Projections for Easley range from the second to fifth round, but he is likely to be taken on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft as long as he can prove he’s healthy.

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Early returns positive as Billy Donovan grants rare do-over to Gators C Damontre Harris

Just over one month after being dismissed from the program due to his own actions, Florida Gators redshirt junior center Damontre Harris appears to be taking the first steps towards working his way back in head coach Billy Donovan’s good graces.

“How he got to the point that he wanted to come back, I don’t know,” said Donovan on Monday, “but he’s at that point right now, and I think his behavior and what he has been doing at least up until this point since he’s been back has been positive.”

A major reason why Florida was advertised to have one of the deepest frontcourts in the nation heading into the 2013-14 season, Harris has yet to step foot on the floor for the Gators and will not be doing so any time soon.

He began the season by serving a short suspension while dealing with a minor injury and never worked his way back, failing to meet requirements (like working out, practicing, being a reliable teammate) and obligations as simple as maintaining an open line of communication with the coaching staff.

Donovan announced the player’s dismissal on Dec. 21, releasing him to any school of his choosing, but Harris a few weeks later begged for an opportunity to re-enroll at UF and rejoin the team in some capacity.

His coach granted him the chance with one important caveat – Harris had to accept that there was there was no chance he would play this season.

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Center Damontre Harris re-enrolls at Florida

Updated on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan on Wednesday night announced that redshirt junior center Damontre Harris, a 2012 transfer who was suspended from the team and ultimately kicked out of the program for a variety of off-the-court issues, has re-enrolled at the University of Florida just weeks after deciding to leave school.

Harris completed his coursework in the fall and chose to try his luck with a new school after balking at a list of demands Donovan put in front of him, things he could do to work his way back into the coach’s good graces and rejoin the team. Donovan subsequently dismissed him from the program.

However, over winter break, Harris changed his mind and asked Donovan for one more opportunity. Donovan said he granted Harris an additional chance, allowing him to take classes in the spring, but cautioned that the 6-foot-10, 225-pounder still has a long way to go to potentially join the team for practices at some point this spring and play in games during the 2014-15 season.

“Damontre Harris is back in school. Right now, he is not playing this year. I’m not going to allow him to play,” Donovan announced.

“He had basically texted me over Christmas and really wanted to try to somehow earn his way back on the team and work his way back on the team. I think the easy thing for me would’ve been just to kind of just remove him and keep him away. But I think it could be a great, great story in his life if we can find a way to try to help him. Whenever he gets to practice, if he’s ever able to play here, he knows exactly what he needs to do.

“This was all his decision of him kind of really being pretty persistent with me over the holiday, saying that the feels like he’s made a huge mistake, just feels like Florida basketball is all he’s got and he really needs our help. He understands the criteria, the groundwork that needs to be done. He understands what we expect out of him. And he said that he’s going to try to do those things to the best of his ability.

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Allen’s Alley: Demanding Donovan powers Florida

A four-year member of the Florida Gators basketball program under head coach Billy Donovan, former forward Adam Allen was forced to retire due to multiple knee surgeries. No longer with the team, he took two years off from playing basketball but has returned to the game as a graduate student at Rollins College.

Allen, who first worked as a basketball columnist with OnlyGators.com throughout the 2011-12 season, has rejoined the website this year to provide his unique perspective on the Gators throughout the 2013-14 campaign.

It would be an understatement to say that I’m impressed with how Florida has handled the early-season adversity thrown its way. The Gators have done so likely better than any other team in the country could have and that is unsurprising due in large part to Donovan’s tremendous coaching.

A tough non-conference schedule combined with injuries, suspensions and ineligible players would deflate most teams. Florida, however, accepted and even embraced the challenges at hand, competing hard even when victory seemed like it might be impossible (such as on the road at Wisconsin).

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NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.

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Damontre Harris dismissed by Florida Gators

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.”

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