Walker has his chance to play

Playing time was up in the air for DeVon Walker. He spoke with Florida head coach Billy Donovan before the Gators started practice, and the option was there for him to redshirt. That changed when the two had a conversation after practice earlier this week. Donovan was comfortable playing Walker as a sophomore if he wanted to burn the redshirt year.

And there wasn't a hesitation in his mind.

Walker came to Florida to play, and after almost deciding to transfer in the offseason, he decided that he wanted to see the court this year. He played mostly point guard during his time at Winter Haven High School but spent most of his time at small forward and power forward last season.

It wasn't a secret that he didn't weigh enough to hold his own at those positions, but the Gators needed him for some minutes. To start this year with injuries and suspensions all over the roster, they'll need him for even more minutes. That's what Donovan wanted to convey after practice earlier this week, and Walker was happy to hear it.

"He came over and talked to me," DeVon Walker said. "Over the past few weeks, he was looking over me, kind of like evaluating how I was playing. After practice one night, he came up to me and told me it was ultimately my decision. But he felt comfortable with me in the rotation and being able to play."

Walker came to Gainesville weighing 185 pounds and is up to 200 as the Gators head into the season. That was a big reason for the increased confidence from Donovan.

"The one thing that's been great with Devon is I've really seen him make a huge jump from last year to this year," Donovan said. "He's physically stronger. He's done some good things. I would say this right now with the way Devon Walker has done, I would say even with a full allotment of players he's going to earn himself into some type of role this year. That would be my feeling."

Walker spent the offseason working on his ball handling and jump shot. He's now comfortable shooting three-pointers, saying that "the long-range ball has been going in" lately. His focus was the short-range game and trying to improve his touch on shots inside the three-point line.

The biggest improvement might not always be noticeable on the court. It's his maturity. Walker knows he doesn't have to try to score all the team to help the team win.

"In high school, it was all about trying to score and it was so easy to do that," Walker said. "But I think the understanding of the game, understanding how things work, positioning, pace, tempo, scouting -- a lot of those types of things. The grown-man side has improved a lot."

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