A subplot of tonight’s Florida-Florida State game is the return of former Florida signee Derwin Kitchen.
Kitchen was part of a 2005 Florida recruiting class that included guard Walter Hodge, forward/center Jimmie Sutton and guard David Huertas. But after spending a summer on the UF campus, Kitchen was unable to enroll because he failed to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
A short stint at St. John’s followed, but Kitchen again was unable to play due to academic reasons. After two seasons at Iowa Western Community College, Kitchen wound up signing with rival FSU.
Kitchen declined an interview request last week. Florida coach Billy Donovan said he’s happy that Kitchen is back playing at the Division I level.
“During the process in getting a chance to know him he’s a great kid,” Donovan said. “We would have obviously loved to have had him. We tried to sign him. It did not work out.
“More than anything else, it’s not that I’ve kept in close contact with Derwin but just during the process, I really liked him as a person. I really liked him as a kid a lot and he deserves to be playing somewhere and I’m happy that he’s able to play and fill a role and get a chance to contribute to a good team.”
Kitchen, a former standout at Jacksonville Raines, is averaging 7.7 points and 3.7 assists this season starting at point guard.
“Derwin had some experience last year at point guard playing with Toney Douglas,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He reported to camp this season in much better condition. He’s been credible back there. We’re still a team that’s learning a lot about each other.”
Also of note, Florida junior forward Chandler Parsons is expected to play tonight after missing two practices with a hip flexor. Parsons is averaging 14.3 ppg off the bench for the Gators this season.