Florida F/C Chris Walker suspended three games; G Brandone Francis will not play in 2014-15

By Adam Silverstein
October 15, 2014

Florida Gators sophomore forward Chris Walker will miss the first three games of the season, including two regular-season contests, while serving a suspension for violation of team rules, head coach Billy Donovan announced on Wednesday.

Donovan also noted that four-star freshman guard Brandone Francis, who OnlyGators.com first reported was cleared academically to enroll at Florida, will sit out the 2014-15 season while he works to improve his grades in order to get approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Walker, who missed the first half of his freshman campaign while working to become academically eligible to compete, is projected to start in the frontcourt for the Gators once he is able to play in his first game. He decided to return for his sophomore campaign rather than try his hand at the NBA Draft a year ago.

“He has worked very, very hard in the weight room. I think the biggest thing, his biggest challenge this year, in my opinion, is going to be his ability to manage expectations,” Donovan said.

“The one thing I admired about him a year ago is here comes a highly-profiled kid coming into our season in the middle of January. … He was an unbelievable teammate last year in terms of understanding the fact that he had missed so much of the summer, non-conference [games], and when he came here, he never once complained about playing time. He wanted to do whatever he could to help. …

“You hear all these expectations and people look at the fact that he has gotten physical stronger and everything else, [yet] he has such a long way to go in terms of being reliable, accountable and disciplined. Those would be the three things that I would say I don’t have a real good grasp on right now, but we’re going to find out.

“Him being reliable on the court to be able to do his job, him being responsible as it relates to his work ethic each and every day and understanding his role. Those are going to be some things where I think he’s going to have to battle some of those expectations because certainly he’s been built and hyped up. …

“I don’t know what kind of impact he’s going to make. I think that he’s going to have to be able to be able to handle that where maybe he’s got his own personal expectation of where he thinks he should be and if he’s not at that level, how is he going to handle that? I think that’s one of the most difficult things to deal with as a coach, when you have players with individual expectations that don’t’ get met with how they’re performing. He’s got to have a realistic expectation. He’s got a long way to go.”

Francis was expected to serve a reserve role at guard.

Florida opens up the 2014-15 campaign at home against William & Mary on Friday, Nov. 14. UF then hosts Miami on Monday, Nov. 17 and Louisiana-Monroe on Friday, Nov. 21.

Walker will be eligible to return for the Louisiana-Monroe contest as he will serve one part of his three-game suspension during UF’s exhibition game against Barry University on Thursday, Nov. 6.

He averaged 1.9 points, 1.3 boards and 0.4 blocks in just 4.8 minutes per game during his freshman season but should see a huge uptick in minutes and opportunity during his sophomore campaign.

“I think, offensively right now, he’s got a long way to go. I don’t necessarily know if he has an offensive go-to game, so to speak,” Donovan said. “He’s a terrific athlete. He’s got a really good motor. He tries to go rebound and chase balls on the glass. He’s a good shot blocker. I think he’s very quick off the dribble, he actually can dive the ball some from the perimeter. But he’s not a great jump shooter, he’s not a great back-to-the-basket player; he’s not a guy you can just throw the ball to and he can go get you a bucket. But I do think there’s a lot of value he can bring into our team.”


  1. Gator Fan says:

    Did they confiscate the e from Brandone’s name too?

  2. Ken (CA) says:

    Wow, when it rains it pours. What’s next? The leading scorer and goalie on our intramural water polo team getting suspended?

    I was just getting geared up for a another great hoops run, which can still happen, but wow…You would think by now Walker especially would know expectations and accountability and not have the maturity kind of issues it sounds like he has

    • Michael Jones says:

      I had the same kind of “here we go again” thought. Sounds almost like Walker is more of an incredible athlete with a playground-type game than the lottery pick everyone is making him out to be. I mean, in a game loaded with great athletes, how far can athleticism alone take you?

  3. KB says:

    Everybody relax… we all are uptight about football but Billy D has control of the basketball program and under his stewardship I am confident in him guiding the kids to a good year on the court regardless. Everyone expects kids like Walker to come in as grown men and not have slip ups here and there. Billy D not only develops his kids as basketball players but as men. Walker is getting it together and as long as he is coach-able and learns from his mistakes he will be good. From all accounts Billy thinks he is a good kid so lets just relax and not let the doom and gloom from football effect the views on other UF sports. Hopefully, Francis will take the time and focus on his studies and ball next year. Looking forward to another great college hoops year for UF!

    • Michael Jones says:

      Love your upbeat attitude and I agree with you. But my comments were referencing the similarities to the way last season started with Scottie in hot water with Billy D. and Walker having to endure the NCAA Clearinghouse ordeal that we all remember so well, not so much anything to do with our current football situation.

      Looking forward to another great year of Gator basketball! Go Gators!!!

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