GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Kasey Hill returned to practice over the weekend, the Florida Gators welcomed back a much-needed body to their rotation.
Another one -- a really big one -- is expected Saturday.
Chris Walker, the 6-foot-11, 215-pound McDonald’s All-America forward, completed his academic requirements last week and is expected to be enrolled at UF for the 2014 spring semester. Walker, who signed with the Gators in November 2012 but did not qualify academically in time for the 2013 fall semester, can join the UF basketball team once the fall semester officially ends Friday, assumming the enrollment process is done.
“His work is completed,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said Monday. “It’s out of my hands right now.”
That’s a fact.
Walker’s fate now rests with the NCAA and its Clearinghouse.
While some media reports and fan blog sites have suggested Walker could be in action as early as next week when UF plays Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, that’s not happening.
Even if he was eligible to play as soon as next week, the notion that Donovan would throw a guy into a game with next-to-no knowledge of the system and having not played in a real game since last March, well, is absurd.
So now the Gators wait.
Walker, a consensus top-10 national prospect for the 2013 signing class, averaged 32 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots a game as a junior, and as a senior led Holmes County High to the Class 1A state championship with 30 points and 15 rebounds in the 2013 title game.
A month later, he won the slam-dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-America Game (pictured above).
If nothing else, Walker will be a big boon for the UF scout team for a few weeks and should get a crash course in collegiate post play going against Patric Young, Dorian Finney-Smith, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather every day in practice.
“He’s certainly got a lot to catch up on, a lot to make up, so to speak, with him missing as much time as he’s missed here,” Donovan said. “But I would be excited if that did work out.”
A lot of Gators will.