Had a chance to talk with sophomore point guard Erving Walker before Florida’s football season opener against Charleston Southern.
The most noticeable difference in Walker was his upper body. After spending most of the summer on campus with Florida strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring, Walker looks significantly stronger and leaner. He’s up to 175 pounds, about 14 heavier than the 161 pounds he arrived at as a true freshman. And most of it is muscle.
Walker said he got in better shape to prepare for the possibility of increased minutes at the point. After playing off the ball and spelling Nick Calathes at point guard last season, Walker comes into this season as UF’s projected starter at point guard.
“Point guard, it’s my natural position,” Walker said. “I’ve played there all of my life. I feel comfortable there. Coach (Billy Donovan) talked with me about my conditioning because he wants us to push the ball and play up-tempo.”
After averaging 24.1 minutes per game last season, Walker projects to play more than 30 minutes per game this season.
The 5-foot-8 Walker was a sparkplug off the bench as a part-time starter last season, making the All-SEC freshman team. He finished third on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game and first in 3-point field goal percentage at 41.9 percent.
Walker said the rest of the team has worked hard in pickup games over the summer. He’s excited about the addition of 6-foot-10, 240-pound center Vernon Macklin, who is eligible to play in games this season after transferring from Georgetown.
Florida coach Billy Donovan has cautioned not to expect too much, too soon from Macklin, a former McDonald’s All American who struggled fitting into Georgetown coach John Thompson’s Princeton Offense.
“I think he’s going to be the big man that we need,” Walker said. “Just a low post guy who is going to be able to score and rebound around the basket.”
Also of note, tickets for Florida’s SEC-Big East showdown against Syracuse go on sale Saturday. The game is scheduled for Dec. 10 at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. Fans who wish to attend doubleheader at can purchase tickets online at www.Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone by calling the St. Pete Times Forum box office at (800) 745-3000. Prices are $40, $25 and $15.
Mississippi State and DePaul will play in the opening game at 6:30 p.m., followed by Florida-Syracuse at 9 p.m.