Painter leaving?

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Word out of Virginia is that incoming freshman 2009-10 Florida recruit DeShawn Painter is re-opening his recruitment.

According to a Virginiapreps.com report, Painter and Florida have mutually agreed to part ways. Painter, from the Virginia Beach area, signed a letter of intent last November, but could get out of the loi fairly easily if both sides decide to go in a different direction.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Painter is an Alex Tyus-like athletic big man who is more a face-to-the-basket player and is effective scoring in transition. Painter, recruited by Florida assistant coach Rob Lanier, also is considered a plus-defender.

Rivals.com rated Painter the 85th-ranked player nationally and the 10th-ranked center in the 2009 class.

Florida officials wouldn’t immediately comment on Painter’s status. The Gators, of course, would need to release Painter from his letter of intent in order for his recruitment to re-open.

Painter spent this past year at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., the same prep school that Marrreese Speights attended. Speights attended the prep school in order to academically qualify at UF.

Calls to Hargrave Military Academy coach Kevin Keatts weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.

If Painter decided to no longer come to UF, it could open up a scholarship slot for former Alabama guard Rico Pickett. Pickett, a 6-foot-4 combo guard, is reportedly being pursued by Florida as insurance in case sophomore point guard Nick Calathes keeps his name in the NBA draft. Pickett left Alabama after averaging 5.9 and starting 20 of 29 games as a freshman in 2007-08. He’s currently playing at Miami-Dade Community College.