Notebook: Larson not on scholarship
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 4:35 p.m.
Florida redshirt sophomore forward Cody Larson isn't ready to label this season as his last shot.
“You can call it what you want to call it,” Larson said. “I'm just looking at it from one angle and that's to work hard and do the right things.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan confirmed that the 6-foot-9 Larson is not on scholarship, but agreed to stay with the team as a walk-on. Donovan said that the decision to pull Larson's scholarship was based on his inability to take care of certain responsibilities on and off the court.
“I've been through some different situations with Cody in trying to help him get better on the court, off the court, in the classroom, and taking care of responsibilities and it was something he was not doing,” Donovan said. “And I think everyone's scholarship is very, very valuable and you want guys to have a responsibility to take care of things they need to take care of and for Cody, those things were not happening.”
Donovan said he talked with Larson's family and gave him the option to transfer to another school. But Larson chose to return to UF.
“At first obviously I was disappointed, but I expected it,” Larson said. “And now I'm at the point where I just want to work hard and help the team in any way that I can. It's over with now, and I just have got to play.”
The move leaves Florida with 13 scholarship players, which includes incoming transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris. Finney-Smith and Harris won't be eligible to play this season due to NCAA Division I transfer rules.
Larson redshirted as a true freshman and averaged just 0.5 points and 0.8 rebounds in 25 games last season. Off the court, he was arrested on criminal trespass charges in the spring of 2011 in an incident outside a St. Augustine bar. He pleaded no contest to reduced charges and received probation.
But Donovan said he's noticed a change from Larson this offseason. Larson said he's put on 20 pounds this offseason and is hopeful to earn an increased role in UF's frontcourt rotation.
“I give him credit for wanting to see this thing through,” Donovan said. “He's taking care of his responsibilities and doing all the things we asked him to do. I think he's been a totally different person at this point in time. None of us are perfect. I think we all make mistakes and do things that we learn from and I think he's learned some valuable lessons and I think he's better off for it and I think he's going to benefit down the road.”
Donovan said that senior guard Mike Rosario has had “the best three weeks since he's been at Florida” during recent offseason workouts.
But Donovan said he wants to see more durability from Rosario before declaring a concrete role for the 6-foot-3 former Rutgers standout. Donovan pointed out that Rosario missed 25 practices and five games last season. In comparison, Donovan said, former point guard Erving Walker missed just one practice in four years on campus.
“Mike had a hip pointer and was out for 10 days,” Donovan said. “I mean ... that is just mind-boggling. Ten days for a hip pointer? My daughter could work through that.”
Rosario, who was UF's leading scorer off the bench last season at 6.6 points per game, said he's coming into this season “110 percent” healthy after dealing with back and hip problems last season.
“It feels great because when you are healthy, the work shows on the court,” Rosario said.
Walk-on guard Billy Donovan said that coming back to play for his father was a motivating factor in his decision to transfer to Florida.
But Donovan, a former starter at Division III Catholic University in Washington D.C., said a change in career aspirations also played a role in his decision.
“I didn't want to do the whole politics thing anymore,” Donovan said. “I wanted to do something on basketball.”
Specifically, Donovan did not rule out the possibility of going into a future in coaching, like his dad.
“I think I can help a lot of people with that,” Donovan said.