Chris Walker is a step closer to playing basketball for the Florida Gators. In a simple two-sentence release, the University of Florida stated that Walker has been admitted to school and can begin practicing immediately although he is not eligible to play just yet.
A 6-10, 220-pound forward with freakish athletic skills, Walker led Holmes County to the Florida 1A championship as a senior, scoring 30 points while grabbing 15 rebounds and blocking seven shots in the championship game. He earned both McDonald’s and Jordan Brand All-American honors along the way.
It is unclear when Walker will be eligible to play in games. There is an issue with the NCAA regarding an unofficial visit that he took to Kansas that was paid for by an AAU official who has since been banned by the NCAA from coaching or directing any summer-circuit team. Considering the suspensions that others have gotten for similar offenses, Walker should probably miss the next three games – Memphis, December 17 (New York); Fresno State, December 21 (Sunrise) and Savannah State, December 29 (O-Connell Center). For example, last season Shabazz Muhammad had to sit UCLA’s first three games for unofficial visits to at least two schools that were paid for by a benefactor not connected to his family.
Adding Walker into the Florida equation will give the Gators front court depth heading into the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule and it will give them the shot blocker they don’t have right now. Currently, Florida has only two true post players on the roster – 6-9 senior Patric Young and 6-8 senior Will Yeguete. Dorian Finney-Smith takes turns in the post rotation but he is a versatile player who Billy Donovan uses at all five positions on the floor. Also, Donovan uses 6-6 Casey Prather occasionally at the high post when he goes with a small lineup. Having Walker will allow Donovan to be more creative with both Finney-Smith and Prather while giving Young and Yeguete a break in the low blocks.
Walker is a tremendous finisher around the rim. He’s blessed with athletic moves around the basket but isn’t limited to the paint area. He has an excellent jump shot from 15 feet on in and enough range that he can take the occasional three-pointer.
Where he will help immediate is with post defense and at some point he could be a factor in the press because Donovan could make him the safety who protects the rim if and when opponents break the press.
Walker is the 15th McDonald’s All-American signed by Billy Donovan. His addition gives the Gators three on the roster (Young and Kasey Hill are the other two).
Florida could receive more good news as early as this weekend regarding Alex Murphy, the younger brother of former Gator Erik Murphy, who has elected to transfer out of Duke. Murphy is at his family home in South Kingston, Rhode Island and is expected to announce his transfer destination any day now, but it would be considered an upset if he were to choose any school but Florida.