Walker Addition Brightens the Future

While the Gators prepare for the start of the 2012-13 season, Florida got big news with the commitment of five-star forward Chris Walker on Sunday that impacts the program's future. A lack of impact frontcourt players has plagued the Gators in recent years, but his addition gives the Gators size and athleticism for the 2013-14 season that should give Florida a talented team all over the court.

This was already the case before the addition of Chris Walker. He'll add a different element to a frontcourt that will be able to matchup with opponents. Walker's athleticism and leaping ability makes him a difficult player for opponents to guard. When Walker signs, he will join Patric Young as the only two five-star big men that Florida has signed in the Scout database, which goes back to the 2002 class.

The Gators will also get Damontre Harris for the start of the 2013-14 season. The center became one of the most feared shot blockers in the country while starting for South Carolina last season. He'll be forced to sit out in 2012-13 because of the NCAA transfer rule. The time on the practice court will send Harris up against Patric Young every day and should help both improve.

Young will be the big question going into the 2013-14 season. Depending on what he does as a junior in 2012-13, the Florida center will be forced to make a decision about his future. If he elects to start his professional career early, the Gators will have enough depth to replace him. If Young returns for his senior year, the Gators have a frontcourt that could challenge for the best in the country.

Even if Young leaves, the Gators will boast Walker, Harris, Will Yeguete and Cody Larson at the power forward and center positions.

The small forward position will be loaded with athleticism. Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith will sit out the 2012-13 season, but the small forward will be eligible to play in 2013-14. While Harris is ready to contribute immediately, the redshirt year might be a good thing for Finney-Smith.

He was a five-star player and ranked 27th in the country out of high school in the 2011 class. He averaged 6.3 points and led the Hokies with seven rebounds per game but never reached his potential.

Casey Prather showed signs of life late in his sophomore season. DeVon Walker will be a freshman in 2012-13 season, and the 6-6, 191-pounder is already starting to impress during preseason workouts. The three-man rotation at small forward will be able to help at other positions, too.

The guard position could be the weakest part of the team during the 2013-14 season. Florida will lose Kenny Boynton after his senior year in 2012-13, and it should include the breaking of multiple school records for the four-year starter. Former McDonald's All-American guard Mike Rosario will also graduate after his redshirt senior season.

The production from the 2013-14 guards will come from ones that are mostly unproven at this point. As of now, Michael Frazier, Dillon Graham, Kasey Hill, Braxton Ogbueze and Scottie Wilbekin will be the five guards on the 2013-14 team. Four of those five players haven't played a minute a Florida.

The hype around Hill has been building for years. Regardless of how Ogbueze and Wilbekin handle the point guard job this season, Hill will challenge for it the minute he steps on campus.

The shooting guards on the roster will be Frazier and Graham unless the Gators elect to add one in the 2013 class. Neither player made the final Scout 100 for their class.

This story isn't meant to downplay the season that will start in November. The Gators are strong again with a team that could make a charge at its third straight Elite Eight appearance.

However, it's what has happened this offseason that should be a reminder that Florida is among the elite basketball programs in the country. And the future is just as bright.


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