Florida freshmen: early look

Don't begrudge Gator fans if they can't tell you much about their freshmen. The ballyhooed class has yet to actualize on the court.

Few developments frustrate fans more early in the season than a freshman class that doesn't materialize in a timely fashion. In Florida's case, it isn't a matter of the Gators' No. 7 class performing below expectations — fans hardly have seen them at all.

Anytime a two-man class ranks in the national top 10, you know the two signees boast superlative talent. That's certainly true for Florida's 2013 duo, Chris Walker and Kasey Hill. Both players hail from the Sunshine State and both earned immense accolades during their schoolboy days before advancing to the McDonald's All-American Game last spring.

But Walker, a 6-11 forward, has yet to suit up for the Gators. He encountered NCAA eligibility hurdles based on academic issues, and at this moment he still has received clearance to compete. Last week, published reports claimed that he might be able to play in January, but at this juncture no one knows for certain.

Doubly frustrating, many considered Walker very likely to turn pro following his freshman season. While his development obviously has been stunted by his eligibility hiccup, conceivably he'll spend only three months of his life in a Gator uniform before speeding along to the NBA.

Point guard Kasey Hill started in his first four games and averaged 10 points, four assists and two steals per contest, although he struggled big-time in UF's loss to Wisconsin. In that game he received something of an education, shooting only 2-11 from the field versus a very disciplined club. Nevertheless, hopes have remained high that he'd grasp Billy Donovan's system sufficiently well to run the show capably by the opening of SEC play.

But Hill suffered a setback of his own last week, badly spraining his left ankle —even worse for him than for others, because he's a one-footed leaper — and likely will miss at least a month of action.

An empty class now exists in Gainesville into mid- or late December, and we simply won't know until later how effective the Gators rookies can be this season.

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