Huertas doesn't regret leaving UF

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 12:13 a.m.

David Huertas won a national championship at Florida in his freshman season.

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David Huertas dribbles for Ole Miss against LSU in Oxford Saturday.

The Associated Press

But the 6-foot-5 guard from Puerto Rico bypassed the opportunity for another ring for a chance at more playing time.

It was a calculated decision. Had Huertas stayed at Florida, he would have likely started this season as a junior after coming off the bench last season behind Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer.

At OIe Miss, Huertas is starting as a sophomore this season with three years of eligibility remaining. He was forced to sit out last season because of NCAA Division I transfer rules.

Huertas will face his former team for the first time tonight when Ole Miss hosts Florida. He may end up matching up against Walter Hodge, his former roommate at UF.

"I think I'm going to be really excited," Huertas told Ole Miss reporters following Monday's practice, "Hopefully, on Wednesday I can calm myself down and play relaxed."

Huertas acknowledged the decision was based on playing time and that he talked it over with his family and former coaches.

"I felt like I was going to waste another year, playing five to 10 minutes a game," Huertas said. "So for my future, I decided to move."

Huertas said he had no regrets about his decision, "It's been great," he said. "I like it here. I like my teammates, my coach."

Florida coach Billy Donovan described the split as amicable. Donovan said Huertas approached him with his concerns following the season.

"He wanted more playing time, he wanted more shots," Donovan said. "He wanted to be in a situation where he could get a chance to shoot the ball more. I respect any kid who has four years to play and comes to you and says this is what I want, this is what I want in my career, this is what I want in my life."

Donovan said he had no problems with Huertas transferring within the league. Under transfer rules, Donovan could have forced Huertas to sit out two years had he not signed a letter of consent.

"I've never been one of those coaches who have believed in holding a young man back," Donovan said. "Life's too short. These guys get a chance to play college basketball for such a short period of time that I always think you give them the opportunity to go where they want to go."

Donovan said he felt comfortable working with Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on the transfer. Kennedy was an assistant at Cincinnati when James White transferred from Florida to Cincinnati following the 2002 season.

As a starter, Huertas is averaging 9.9 points and 3.3 rebounds this season. An excellent long range shooter in high school, Huertas is shooting 30.9 percent (25-for-81) from 3-point range this season.

"David started off the season slow, then he kind of found a nice rhythm right before the beginning of the conference season," Kennedy said. "Now he's back to pressing a little bit again, rushing his shot a little bit. But he's done everything we've asked of him. He's a hard worker and a great kid."

Asked how he expects Huertas to approach tonight's game, Kennedy responded: "I'm sure he'll be attentive with our scouting report, although a lot of the players he played with are no longer there. I'm sure he's going to be excited. I just hope he's not too excited."

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