Real or not, Gator F Chris Walker getting stronger


It’s a question that’s been posed since Florida sophomore forward Chris Walker first changed his avatar picture on Twitter last month.

It shows a jacked-up 6-foot-10 Walker walking outside the Florida basketball facility holding a pair of barbells stacked with 135 pounds in each hand. Some think it’s photo-shopped. Is it real? Judge below for yourself.

Regardless, I’m told that Walker has made some significant strength gains this summer since first arriving on UF’s campus last December as a skinny 202-pound freshman from Bonifay. That’s where Walker’s academic and NCAA issues last offseason hurt the most. Because he was unable to enroll at UF until December, he was unable to benefit from a full offseason strength and conditioning program. Thrown into a reserve role in February, Walker was unable hold his positioning defensively against more physical big men in the Southeastern Conference such as Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes, LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant and Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones.

It appears that Walker has benefited from Florida strength coach Preston Greene’s program this summer. Walker is up to 220 pounds and still has room to fill out his frame. I’m told that Florida junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith also had an excellent summer in the weight room and is up to 220 pounds after playing the Final Four at 208 pounds last season.

With Finney-Smith (6-foot-8, 220 pounds), Walker (6-10, 220 pounds) and senior graduate transfer Jon Horford (6-10, 250 pounds), Florida has the bulk up front to compete against what projects to be a behemoth Kentucky frontcourt this season. The ‘Cats have more depth with Dakari Johnson (7-0, 255), Willie Cauley-Stein (7-0, 240), Karl Towns (6-11, 250), Marcus Lee (6-9, 220 pounds), Trey Lyles (6-10, 235) and Alex Poythress (6-8, 238). But Florida does have an options off the bench with 6-8, 210 pound freshman forward Devin Robinson and 6-8 220-pound junior forward Alex Murphy, a Duke transfer who will be eligible in mid-December.

Expect plenty of battle royals this season when the two top programs in the Southeastern Conference meet in February and March. Walker is just doing his best to get ready.