Tuesday January 21, 2014 Donovan talks Chris Walker
Updated: 6:36pm, January 21
Updated: 6:36pm, January 21
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Guess who was Twitter trending in Gatorland Monday night?
At 8:49 p.m., an Orlando television sports anchor, WFTV's Christian Bruey, tweeted he’d been “told” Florida freshman center Chris Walker would miss one more game (Thursday at Alabama), then be ruled eligible to suit up for the Gators (Saturday against Tennessee).
Never mind that Monday was a holiday and chances are the NCAA wasn’t working.
The so-called report was put to UF coach Billy Donovan on Tuesday. He tried to clarify things as succinctly as possible.
“As it relates to Chris, just listen to us and our school. I’m not going to address it anymore,” Donovan said. “Certainly, we’re hopeful he gets back soon, but there’s been no indication that there’s any truth to that at all.”
That makes three such erroneous “reports” the last three weeks regarding Walker’s pending eligibility. Donovan, his assistants, his players and the Florida fan base certainly can’t wait to get the good word on Walker, the wildly athletic 6-foot-10 McDonald’s All-American from Bonifay, Fla. They'd love for Bruey's tweet to be right.
But nothing is imminent regarding a decision on Walker.
UF officials are being kept in the loop as much as the NCAA tends to do that, and that’s how Donovan laid it out Tuesday.
“Whenever he gets cleared, and certainly we all hope it’s soon, believe me, I’m not going to throw a guy in a game and have him pop up and you guys not be aware of it,” Donovan said. “The minute he gets eligible, cleared and he’s able to play, I’ll let you know. Anything else that’s out there about that is not true.”
In the interim, Walker has been hard at work since joining the team Dec. 14 at the conclusion of the first semester. Walker did not qualify academically to enroll at UF for the fall, but spent August through December rallying his collegiate transcript.
The last five weeks -- while he's sat out seven games -- have been about getting Walker caught up with the UF system and acclimated to high-level college competition. Remember, the last real competitive basketball he played was in the Class 1A State Tournament in February 2013.
That’s not exactly the Southeastern Conference.
“The only thing I’ve been trying to do with Chris is each and every day trying to help him get better as a player, provide the resources he needs academically, try to work with him on the court to get better,” Donovan said. “In terms of all the details and hang-ups, I don’t know all those details because when there’s something going on like this, there’s ethical conduct forms that are signed. That stuff has to be kept confidential, be kept between Chris and the NCAA, kept between our administration and the NCAA. I’m not involved in any of those conversations. I trust our administration and what they’re doing. Hopefully it will be resolved in a timely fashion. I know everyone is involved one way or another to know what’s going to happen.”