Lucas Leaving not a Surprise, Timing is

Billy Donovan's Wednesday afternoon announcement that sophomore guard Jai Lucas is going to transfer was no shocker. However the timing is quite unusual. It was obvious with 13 players on scholarship, only one senior and three commitments for next year that two members of this team would not be back for the 2009-10 season.

But I expected that to sort itself out after the season was over. Lucas leaving just two days after playing (and starting) in the Gators' first exhibition game is hard to figure.

By playing in an exhibition game, this is now Lucas' second year of collegiate eligibility. If he transfers to another major college program and sits until the end of next fall's semester he would then be a junior. The only way he can avoid wasting the year is by getting injured before he leaves UF, transferring to a Division II school or going to a junior college and finishing his A.A. degree before heading back to Division I.

Lucas had a solid first year as a Gator, starting in all but one of Florida's 36 games. He was fifth on the team in scoring (8.5), fourth in assists (2.3) and third in minutes played (30.1). He improved his shooting over the course of the season and made 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from three point range.

Lucas struggled in the opener with Warner Southern, missing eight of the nine shots he took and scoring just four points in 20 minutes. He was outshone by rookie Erving Walker who scored 13 and made 5-of-8 from the field.

With Lucas leaving the team it's likely the Gators will go with a backcourt of Nick Calathes and Walter Hodge with Ray Shipman and Erving Walker coming off the bench. That means the Gators will need for some combination Chandler Parsons, Adam Allen and perhaps Allan Chaney to handle the "3" spot.

The Gators play their second exhibition Thursday night against Rollins.

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