Sutton, a 6-foot-10 center from Deerfield Beach, Fla., saw action in two exhibition games for the Gators at the start of the 2005-06 season before redshirting. His departure means that 11 of the 13 players from last season's National Championship squad are expected to return for the 2006-07 season.
Sutton, who played high school basketball at North Broward Prep in Deerfield Beach, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April of 2005. He averaged 12.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while setting school records for rebounds and dunks. As a high school junior, he helped his team to a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
With Sutton's departure, there is some speculation that his place on the Florida roster might be taken by Duke transfer Eric Boateng, a former McDonald's All-American. Boateng, a 6-10, 260-pounder, played sparingly as a freshman at Duke this past season. He was granted his release by Duke just after Florida won the national championship. Boateng is a cousin of Florida football wide receiver Nyan Boateng.
Florida already is bringing in four freshmen --- Jonathon Mitchell of Mount Vernon, New York; Brandon Powell of Memphis (TN) Mitchell; Doneal Mack of Statesville (NC) Christian and Mareese Speights of Hargrave (VA) Military Academy --- which will give the Gators 12 scholarship players on the roster next season. The Gators already have commitments for 2006 from guards Nick Calathes of Lake Howell and Gary Clark of Sarasota Booker so it is possible that Donovan will hold Sutton's scholarship and try to bring in a big man in the recruiting class of 2007.
Florida Atlantic Coach Rex Walters is ecstatic to land a player of Sutton's size and ability. Walters believes that Sutton can become an impact player for Florida Atlantic, a member of the Sun Belt Conference in football but a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference in all other sports.
"It's a big day for us," Walters told Dave Telep of Scout.com. "This is even a happier day than probably the press conference (announcing my hiring). Jimmie is a player that can come in and have an impact for us the day he puts on an FAU uniform."