F Walter Pitchford transfers from UF

Freshman forward Walter Pitchford has had a rocky road in his college basketball career. The former DePaul signee opted to go to Summit Christian Academy for a year before signing with Florida a year later.

Now the Michigan native is transferring from Florida to be closer to his family and play closer to home, according to a university press release.

“It’s definitely the best thing for him and his family, just with some of his extenuating circumstances,” coach Billy Donovan said in the release. “Right now, he just needs to be near his family. They need him home and they want him home.”

Pitchford played in 13 games for Florida during the 2011-12 season, scoring six points on 3-11 shooting. He also pulled down four rebounds in his 22 minutes of game action.

Though Florida wasn’t deep in the frontcourt this year, he was unable to make much of an impact. He was involved in a scooter accident in late January that kept him out of practice for about two weeks with a wrist injury.

“It’s been great learning from coach Donovan and competing with my teammates here at Florida,” Pitchford said in the statement. “I made this decision because I need to be closer to my family at this time.”

His departure will leave Florida with one scholarship open for the 2012 recruiting class. The spring signing period began Wednesday, and the Gators are still pursuing Findlay Prep forward Anthony Bennett.

Bennett is expected to make a decision sometime in early May.

Florida is also still waiting on freshman Brad Beal to determine whether he will enter the NBA Draft. He has until April 29 to do so under NBA deadlines.

If Florida adds Bennett and returns Beal, the Gators would be at the NCAA-allotted 13 scholarship limit.

Donovan said the parting with Pitchford is an amicable one. The Orlando Sentinel’s Rachel George reported Pitchford elected to leave Florida to be closer to his grandfather, who is ill.

“Even though he didn’t play a lot this year, his attitude every day was phenomenal; always good energy, always good enthusiasm,” Donovan said. “I don’t remember him ever having a bad day attitude-wise. He was always about the team.”