Thursday May 22, 2014 Billy D to address Harris exit, Horford and Egbunu arrival today
Updated: 9:53am, May 22
Updated: 9:53am, May 22
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Billy Donovan will meet with the media Thursday morning for the first time since he guided the Florida Gators to the Final Four early last month.
At the top of the list of topics Donovan will address is the news that broke Tuesday regarding nomadic center Damontre Harris, who left the program two weeks ago for the second time in six months.
Harris, the 6-foot-10 junior who transferred to UF two summers ago after a solid two seasons at South Carolina, never played a minute for the Gators despite being eligible by NCAA guidelines the entire ’13-14 season.
Accountability issues last fall got Harris suspended from the team twice. In December, Donovan had had enough and dismissed Harris from the squad, only to agree to bring him back for the start of the spring semester with the understanding Harris would not play the rest of season and have to meet pre-determined requirements to be reinstated for the ’14-15 season.
He did not meet them.
As a sophomore in 2011-12, Harris averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and was second in the Southeastern Conference with 2.3 blocked shots per game while being named to the league’s All-Defensive team. He certainly could have helped the Gators, but it’s not like they’ll miss him now that he's gone. As far as the rotation, he was never really here.
For Harris, his options are limited. Because he only has one year of eligibility left, he'd have to drop down to Division II classification to play right away, unless the NCAA granted him some sort of waiver, which is unlikely. He could also opt to give professional ball overseas a try.
As for the Gators and the low post, the addition of 6-10 transfer Jon Horford, by way of Michigan, offsets the loss of Harris. Horford averaged 3.8 points on 54.7-percent shooting and 4.2 rebounds in just under 14 minutes per game as a reserve for the Wolverines. All told, Horford played in 69 games the last two seasons, as Michigan advanced to the national title game in '12-13 and NCAA East Region final in '13-14.
Because Horford graduated from UM with a year of eligibility remaining and enrolled in post-graduate classes, he's eligible to play for UF next season.
The Gators also will benefit from the addition of 6-10, 245-pound sophomore John Egbunu, whose transfer from South Florida became official earlier this week. Egbunu averaged 6.2 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Bulls on his way to be named to the American Athletic Conference All-Freshman team.
Egbunu, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds in a game against Memphis, must sit out next season per transfer rules, but his availability at practice will be a significant, especially for the development of sophomore center Chris Walker.