Florida coach Billy Donovan said that he was comfortable offering incoming freshman forward Cody Larson a scholarship despite a pending misdemeanor drug charge in South Dakota.
But Donovan said the decision didn’t come without a great deal of research into Larson and his background.
“Getting to know him a little bit better, I think this was a mistake that he made that he took responsibility for, that he was up front, open and honest with me about,” Donovan said. “Checking in and around around him, I felt like he was a good kid who probably made a bad decision and a bad choice.”
Larson received a 120-day suspended jail sentence after being charged in an incident earlier this month in which prescription drugs were taken from his home. According to the arrest report, Larson provided the prescription pain-killer Hydrocodone to a high-school teammate.
Larson and his family made Donovan aware of the February arrest and pending charges when he was being recruited in April.
“When you hear him explain what happened and what went on, it was a young man who was very, very naive in a lot of ways,” Donovan said.
Donovan said he felt comfortable after receiving character references from Larson’s AAU coaches in South Dakota. Many were the same coaches that Donovan dealt win in recruiting former Gator standout Mike Miller from South Dakota more than a decade ago.
Donovan also said that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and director of compliance Jamie McCloskey were made aware of the situation before the scholarship was offered.
“We all felt like this was a mistake he made, that he certainly is paying a penalty,” Donovan said. “But you know what going forward we feel like he could be a good person and a good player.”
Donovan said that Larson’s sentence will not impact his arrival at UF or cut into his freshman season. A four-star recruit, the 6-foot-9 Larson should add quality depth to UF’s frontline next season.