South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris’ Gator career is officially grounded before it even had the chance to take off.
In a statement released by the University of Florida on Saturday, Billy Donovan announced that Harris and the Gators would be going their separate ways in a move that was necessary for both parties.
“He was never disrespectful as far as his attitude. He was a nice kid and never blamed anybody for what was happening,” Donovan said of Harris. “We tried to help him off the court and help him with some of the challenges he was dealing with. But there was never this reciprocation of wanting to be helped or wanting to do the things necessary.”
Harris was one of three players who were suspended for a violation of team rules before the season began. The other two players, Scottie Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith, have both returned to the team and taken on prominent roles in the rotation but Harris and Donovan could never see eye-to-eye.
“The things we were asking him to do weren’t anything out of the norm,” Donovan said. “But we’d go a week without hearing from him. He wouldn’t return our phone calls or text messages. His teammates didn’t know where he was.”
According to the university, Harris will leave Florida in good academic standing and will be allowed to transfer to any school he pleases.
“It may mean him getting to a place where he can play the game on his terms,” Donovan said. “Someone may let him to do that. Here, it’s not our philosophy or belief.”
Harris averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game in 2011-12 at South Carolina on his way to being named to the SEC All-Defensive team as a sophomore. He transferred to Florida after a coaching change at South Carolina.
Donovan was respectful but frank with Harris and in his statements via the school website.
“The thing I tried to get across to him, if he has any aspirations of playing professional basketball there is not one team in this country or overseas that is going to tolerate this type of behavior,” Donovan said. “And I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t hold him accountable for these things.”