Notebook: Walker practicing with Florida

With an ear-to-ear grin in conversation with Florida assistant coach Matt McCall, five-star freshman forward Chris Walker walked into the Florida basketball facility on Monday – the place he always wanted to be. It took work to get his grades where they needed to be, but after starting practice with the Gators on Saturday, the Florida program is waiting for their star freshman to be eligible.

"That kid has really, really worked hard and has shown great resiliency to be here," Billy Donovan said. "I think the fact that that he has worked so hard to get here says a lot about his commitment to wanting to be at Florida."

Now that he's on campus, it's all about learning. There's no timetable for when the NCAA Clearinghouse will clear Chris Walker to play in a game. Even if he was able to play now, Donovan isn't sure how much he would be able to do. He's behind in learning what the Gators want to do on offense and defense.

Another concern for Donovan is that the only freshman on the roster is point guard Kasey Hill, who is an integral part of what the Gators are doing. There aren't many young players out of the rotation that Walker can lean on to learn from.

"As time wears on, he is going to find out just how far behind he really is," Donovan said. "I think there is obviously a lot of attention with him coming into school but I think the one thing that people have got to realize is the fact that he is going to come in here and totally change our team -- that is the furthest thing from the truth. He's got such a long way to go and it's not his fault.

"I just hope he doesn't get frustrated and I hope people realize he's not going to be the savior all of a sudden," Donovan said. "I'm just happy to have a body, happy that he's able to participate. I'm happy for him more than anything else.''

Walker won't travel when the team leaves for New York City on Monday. They'll play against Memphis on Tuesday at 9 p.m. before facing Fresno State in Sunrise, Fla. on December 21. It will likely be after Christmas before Walker gets on the court and maybe even into 2014.

"What the time table is, I really have no idea," Donovan said. "All of that stuff is out of my hands right now. The only thing that I'm working on and focusing on right now is our team getting ready for Memphis and then certainly trying to acclimate him on what he needs to do on a consistent basis here.''

HARRIS NOT EXPECTED BACK: The Gators continue to wait for Damontre Harris to take steps to regain his spot on the team, but it doesn't look like that will happen. The redshirt junior spoke with Donovan last week, but nothing has changed.

Donovan doesn't expect him back this year or in the future.

"Nothing has changed at all," Donovan said. "Right now, he's not part of our team. I don't anticipate him coming back to be a part of our team. He has shown no signs of wanting to do the things necessary to come back. I really don't know what his plans would be or where he'll go, but right now, I don't ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.''


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