Harris not expected back at UF
Published: Monday, December 16, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
The slim hope that forward Damontre Harris still might somehow end up being part of the Florida basketball team now appears gone.
The 6-foot-10 South Carolina transfer has no future with the Gators, UF coach Billy Donovan said Monday.
“I talked to Damontre last week a little bit. Nothing’s changed at all,” Donovan said. “Right now, he’s not part of our team. I don’t anticipate him coming back to be part of our team. He’s shown no sign of wanting to do the things necessary to come back.
“I really don’t know what his plans would be or where he’d go. Right now, I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.”
Donovan said last week that he has not met face-to-face with Harris since Thanksgiving.
Harris has been suspended from the team since the beginning of the season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
While the Gators have basically parted ways with Harris, they have welcomed highly rated true freshman forward Chris Walker to the team. The 6-10 Walker has enrolled in school for the spring semester and started practicing with the team Saturday. He still has not been cleared by the NCAA and did not make the trip to New York for tonight’s game against Memphis.
“We’re really, really happy he’s here,” Donovan said. “More than anything else, not as it relates to our team, but more how it relates to him, because that kid has really, really worked hard and shown great resiliency to want to be here.
“The fact he has worked so hard to get here says a lot about his commitment to want to be at the University of Florida. The other piece obviously now for him is the enormous amount of excitement for him being in practice.”
Donovan said Walker is, understandably, way behind in terms of transitioning to the college game and being ready to contribute.
“As time wears on he is going to find out just how far behind he really is,” Donovan said. “I think there is obviously a lot of attention with him coming into school, but I think the one thing that people have got to realize is the fact that (if they think) he is going to come in here and totally change our team, that is the furthest thing from the truth.
“He's got such a long way to go and it's not his fault. Obviously, when you miss September, October and November and part of December you are going to be really, really behind.”
Donovan said Walker is a little bit lost on the court at the moment.
“Like most frontcourt players coming out of high school who are shot blockers and play at the rim, just the defensive nuances of being in college and the rotations and where you are supposed to be, he has no idea where he is supposed to be right now,” Donovan said. “And it's not his fault.
“It's just going to be a process for him and I just hope he doesn't get frustrated and I hope people realize he's not going to be the savior and all of a sudden like he doesn't just change our team. I'm just happy to have a body, happy that he's able to participate. I'm happy for him more than anything else.''
Donovan said he does not have a timetable for when Walker will be cleared to play by the NCAA.
“That is totally out of our hands,” he said. “Our administration is handling that and that's really up to our administration and the NCAA in terms of trying to figure out a timely fashion when he would be able to play.
“What the timetable is, I really have no idea. All of that stuff is out of my hands right now. The only thing that I'm working on and focusing on right now is our team getting ready for Memphis and then certainly trying to acclimate him on what he needs to do on a consistent basis here.''
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.