The waiting game for McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker to become eligible to play at the University of Florida has hit the home stretch. Walker, who had to complete some online courses to gain NCAA eligibility, has done everything asked of him. Now, it’s up to admissions at the University of Florida and the NCAA Clearinghouse to do their part.
Once declared eligible, Walker can enroll in school and play for the Gators, perhaps as soon the Fresno State game in Sunrise on December 21. But as of now, all Florida coach Billy Donovan can do is wait.
“It’s out of my hands right now,” Donovan said Monday. “It’s with our university. He’s got to go through, you know, an admissions process like any other student here for the second semester. He’s got to obviously go through the Clearinghouse with the NCAA to be cleared. But in terms of his completion with what he’s needed to do, he’s done that. Now it’s kind of out of our hands and we’re just waiting to hear back of what the ruling will be in terms of him being a qualifier and being able to start school.”
If cleared, Walker could practice and play in games even before the spring semester begins in January.
I don’t believe that he can practice until after the last day of final exams once he’s cleared,” Donovan said. “So he’d have to go through being cleared by the Clearinghouse, however long that takes, being admitted by our school. Once those two things happen, and if it happened tomorrow and that means he’s a qualifier, he could not start practicing until the last day of final exams. I think the last day of final exams is maybe Saturday. So I don’t know if he could practice.
Right, he’s got to be enrolled and he’s got to be cleared by the Clearinghouse as well. I think the Clearinghouse has got to look at his transcript and say he’s a full qualifier.”
Donovan said that Walker has been fully cooperative with the NCAA and Florida admissions. While he can’t say with certainty that Walker will get clearance to play, Donovan did seem confident Monday.
I think Chris has fully cooperated and done everything that’s been asked of him to this point, so it’s really out of our hands,” Donovan said. “I think he’s done everything he needs to do, is supposed to. I think obviously I feel very confident with what he’s been able to do. But again, our school’s got to look at his transcript, they’ve got to deem himself admissible, and then his work has got to go to the Clearinghouse, which the NCAA deems as being qualified. And then from there any other issues that are out of our hands that he has to deal with he’ll have to deal with. But I think the biggest thing for him if all that stuff does go through, he’s certainly got a lot to catch up on, a lot to make, so to speak, with him missing as much time as he’s missed here. But I would be excited if that did work out.”
Walker would add a 6-10, athletic shot blocker to Florida’s roster and give the Gators added depth in the front court, something they will need once the Southeastern Conference portion of the schedule begins. Right now, Florida has only two true post players in 6-9 Patric Young and 6-8 Will Yeguete. Having Walker would free 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith and 6-6 Casey Prather to play hybrid roles on the wing, running the baseline and filling in at high post in certain sets.
The 19th-ranked Gators (6-2) play 13th-ranked Kansas Tuesday night at the O-Dome (7 p.m. ESPN). After that, the next game will be against 15th-ranked Memphis at Madison Square Garden on December 17. Even if Walker is cleared by the NCAA and admissions prior to that game, Donovan said that won’t happen.
“I would say him playing in the Memphis game is not going to happen, no,” Donovan said.
Donovan clarified the process that is taking place now to get Walker eligible to play.
I think that there’s two separate things, one is him being admissible to the University of Florida. Now that he’s completed his work, all that stuff gets turned in and our admissions people basically deal with that. That’s more our athletic administration dealing with admissions. They’ll have to go through that. I’m not involved in that process. They’ll have to go through that. And then the Clearinghouse part of it, of him being registered and him being looked at and then the Clearinghouse basically deeming him being qualified for competition would be the next step after that.
So there’s still some things that need to be done over the next several days for him. The only thing that I can comment on now that I know is 100 percent sure is all his work has been completed and now has been turned in so it’s really out of our hands. We’re going to wait to hear what our school says, the Clearinghouse and those kinds of things.”
READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Although Donovan really isn’t free to comment, other sources indicate that Walker will be admitted to UF and cleared by the NCAA. It’s not like Walker just completed the courses last week and there is a rush to get the paperwork done. It was submitted at least three or four weeks ago and the process is moving forward with all due haste. There is probably a better than average chance Walker will be cleared by the end of this week.