Billy Donovan and the Gators landed a talented big man on Thursday who could solve Florida’s problems at center in 2015. According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, former USF center John Egbunu will transfer to Florida this season and be eligible to play after sitting out a season per NCAA regulations.
Florida has landed South Florida transfer John Egbunu, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 15, 2014
As a freshman last season, the six-foot-ten Egbunu averaged just less than 25 minutes per-game, 7.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, on his way to setting a freshman record at USF with 198 rebounds.
USF head coach Stan Heath was fired in March after his team finished the season with a 12-20 record that included a deplorable 3-15 AAC conference finish. Egbunu is the fifth Bull to transfer away from Tampa since the season ended.
Landing Egbunu is big for Donovan’s Gators. Without Patric Young the Gators were left with a need for a big man. Chris Walker is still learning and growing in the system and more of a power forward than a true center. Getting John Horford (former Gator Al horford’s brother) from Michigan will help in 2014. However, Horford will play his final season in 2014 and it is presumed that Walker, a sophomore, will not be around for his junior season in 2015, thus creating a gap again at center again in 2015.
So the news that Egbunu will be a Gator is great for Florida but it puts the team in a predicament. Horford’s transfer put Florida at 13 scholarships for the 2013-2014 calendar year — the NCAA limit. While Egbunu will likely have to sit out a season due to NCAA rule, he will still take up a scholarship as he redshirts. That would put Donovan’s Gators over the scholarship limit with a fall deadline to correct the issue.
The low hanging fruit in this situation would be that Damontre Harris’ rocky road at Florida has come to an end. A transfer from South Carolina, Harris was dismissed from the team in December after a suspension for a violation of team rules turned into an indefinite suspension when he and Donovan couldn’t see eye-to-eye. Harris worked his way back into Donovan’s good graces and was allowed to return to the team and practice, but not play out the season.
Since the season has ended, there has not been an official update about Harris and his status with the team.