GAINESVILLE -- Five-star freshman Chris Walker -- a 6-foot-10 athletic power forward -- is expected to boost No. 16 Florida with his shotblocking, rim-rattling and rebounding skills, but coach Billy Donovan immediately tempered all expectations for the McDonald’s All-American on Monday.
“He is going to find out just how far behind he really is,” Donovan said. “I think there is obviously a lot of attention with him coming into school, but I think the one thing that people have got to realize is the fact that he is going to come in here and totally change our team, that is the furthest thing from the truth. He's got such a long way to go and it's not his fault.”
Walker, who missed the fall semester, joined the Gators on Saturday after compelling the necessary requirements to gain academic eligibility, but the freshman forward has only practiced with the team as he awaits the final decision by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Walker will not play -- or even travel -- when UF takes on No. 15 Memphis at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (9 p.m., ESPN) in New York City.
Donovan said Walker’s final eligibility is “totally out of our hands,” placing no timetable on when he anticipates Walker seeing the floor.
“It's just going to be a process for him and I just hope he doesn't get frustrated,” Donovan explained. “I hope people realize he's not going to be the savior and all of a sudden like he doesn't just change our team. I'm just happy to have a body, happy that he's able to participate. I'm happy for him more than anything else.''
Donovan has publicly expressed his frustrations with former South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, who remains suspended indefinitely due to undisclosed violations.
On Monday, Florida’s coach took his disappointment in the 6-foot-11, 228-pound center a step further.
Harris is unlikely to ever play for the Gators.
“Nothing changed at all,” Donovan said.
“He has shown no signs of wanting to do the things necessary to come back. I really don’t know what his plans would be or where he’ll go, but right now I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.”
Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after tallying a career-high 18 points along with six assists and four steals in UF’s 67-61 win over Kansas.
VIDEO: Senior forward Will Yeguete talks NYC, Walker, the Tigers and more.
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