Eye on the future: Big men

The depth of Florida's frontcourt next season will be decided within three weeks. Chris Walker has until April 27 to decide if he will leave early to begin his professional career or return to Florida for his sophomore season. The Gators have bodies to piece the frontcourt together next season, but Walker's return would boost the depth and talent.

Florida loses four seniors to graduation, two true big men in Will Yeguete and Patric Young. The seniors finished their careers by breaking multiple school records and leaving with the most wins during a career in the history of the program.

There are more question marks than known commodities among the Florida big men on the roster next season.

Chris Walker leads the pack with his draft status. He has all the tools to be a top NBA prospect, but after his enrollment was delayed because of his grades, Walker didn't get on the court as a freshman until February. He ended the year playing in 18 games and averaging 4.8 minutes but managed to finish fifth on the team in blocks.

His 6-10, 220-pound frame combined with the leaping ability has NBA scouts drooling over the player he can become one day, but he isn't close to that point yet. Walker needs to continue adding weight and getting stronger so that he's able to defend bigger bodies. He also needs a more consistent offensive game.

Walker said after Florida lost to Connecticut that he would sit down with Donovan in the coming weeks and talk about the decision. The track record of big men development under Donovan speaks for itself, and Walker would be wise to return to school, especially with such a strong 2014 NBA Draft class. However, the decision is still up to Walker and those around him.

Damontre Harris adds to the list of big men with question marks. He started the season with a suspension before deciding to leave the team in December. He had a change of heart later in the month, asking coach Billy Donovan if he could rejoin the team and work his way back. He practiced with the Gators during the second half of the season, and if he holds up his end of the bargain following Donovan's guidelines, he will play next season.

The 6-10, 228-pounder can provide a shot blocking presence in the paint. His offense game needs work, but he has the big body and defensive presence to give the Gators a boost next season.

After winning the SEC Sixth Man of the Year, Dorian Finney-Smith will likely slide into the starting lineup as the power forward but could also potentially fill the small forward role. He doesn't provide the shot blocking that Harris or Walker would, but he showed throughout the 2013-14 season that he has a nose for the basketball. He finished second on the team with 94 offensive rebounds, seven less than Young in 70 fewer minutes.

The Gators also trusted Finney-Smith to take the ball up the floor at times when points guards Kasey Hill or Scottie Wilbekin were hurt. He was also third on the team in three-point attempts but shot just 29 percent, an area that needs to improve if he wants to take as many three-pointers next season.

Florida will have Duke transfer Alex Murphy eligible after the fall semester comes to an end. He isn't a true power forward but can handle minutes at the position to give other players a breather if necessary. The 6-8, 220-pounder is the younger brother of former Florida forward Erik Murphy, but the two have different games. Alex is more of a slasher and gets to the basket easier than Erik did, but the younger brother doesn't have Erik's three-point shot.

The Gators are also expected to return Jacob Kurtz. At 6-6, 210 pounds, Kurtz won't be trusted to bang in the paint with opponent's bigs, but he's another one that could steal a few minutes per game when the Gators decide to go small.

There's only one newcomer signed that could help Florida next season. Devin Robinson is 6-8, 200 pounds and has put together a strong senior season at Christchurch School (VA). His shooting ability should get him on the court as a freshman, but like most first-year college players, he needs to add strength. Robinson could play the small forward or power forward.

Devin Robinson

The Gators are also recruiting multiple players in the 2014 class, trying to find a big man willing to be a late addition to the group that could also provide some help next season.

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