Around the World: Scottie Wilbekin to practice with Gators, Eli Carter eligible

Stephen Dunn

Florida will have Scottie Wilbekin around when practice begins, and Eli Carter is eligible to play this year, but don't get too excited about either development. Also, more on 2016 commitment John Mooney and future Gator Chris Walker.

When, in the course of Internet events, things get so hectic as to require a single post about Florida basketball that stands in for what could've been several posts split up, that post shall be called Around the World.

Scottie Wilbekin will practice with Florida

Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin will practice with the Gators when they officially begin fall practice on October 11, GatorZone's Chris Harry reported on Thursday. But don't get too excited about it: This is simply a return to practice, not a rescinding of the suspension Wilbekin will still have to serve.

"When I allow him to play, that is an unknown right now," Donovan told GatorZone.com earlier this week. "But he’s done everything I’ve asked him to do through the summer and now into conditioning. He’s not quite back on our team yet, but right now he’ll be back to start practice."

Read that quote, and couple it with Donovan telling reporters at the V Foundation Dinner on Wednesday that Wilbekin would still miss games, and this feels like Will Muschamp allowing Antonio Morrison to practice with Florida while still suspended all over again.

One good thing about this, though? If Donovan actually has the authority to allow or disallow Wilbekin to play, his hands likely aren't tied by the University Athletic Association's rules for failed drug tests, which I have speculated were relevant to Wilbekin's suspension, and others have reported ($) made Wilbekin's suspension a six-game stint on the bench.

Eli Carter gets NCAA waiver, is eligible to play in 2013-14

It's good that Rutgers transfer Eli Carter was granted an NCAA waiver allowing him to play at Florida in 2013-14 earlier this week, because I believe that means every player who transferred out of the Rutgers program after the firing of Mike Rice won't be penalized with a year of riding the pine for leaving a situation in which they had been abused. That waiver, though, doesn't mean that Carter's going to be a major factor for Florida until later this season.

Carter spoke with Chris Harry earlier this week, and talked about his slow-healing leg, broken in February and still not close enough to fully healed to allow him to fully participate in team activities. Donovan told Harry that Carter is "way, way behind"; Carter said "I think it'll be a little while longer." And Donovan also told reporters that Carter and Will Yeguete aren't medically cleared to practice and won't be avilable when practice starts, so, uh, good thing that waiver being granted cancelled out the bad news?

There's little more than a month between now and Florida's non-exhibition season opener with North Florida; it's safe to assume that Carter won't be near 100 percent for that. And with Wilbekin and Carter both looking likely to be out of commission early on, look for Kasey Hill to be Florida's primary guard in November.

Florida lands 2016 forward John Mooney

Florida's recruiting for the class of 2014 has been quiet over the last few months after the commitments of Chris Chiozza and Brandone Francis this summer. Leron Black, Chiozza's AAU teammate and friend, opted for Illinois after eliminating Florida; Abdul-Malik Abu picked North Carolina State over Florida; just this week, fringe target Chris Egi chose Harvard. But while the Gators haven't added anything in 2014, they grabbed a player from a familiar pipeline for the 2016 class by getting John Mooney to commit over the weekend.

Mooney, listed at 6'7" and 225 pounds by Rivals, averaged a double-double as a freshman at Lake Brantley last year, and apparently has some Erik Murphy to his game, if you listen to Nike Team Florida coach Tom Topping. Topping, whose program also produced Nick Calathes, Walter Hodge, Chandler Parsons, Wilbekin, and Yeguete, and currently features 2015 forward and Florida commit Kevarrius Hayes, told Gator Country's Franz Beard that Mooney is 6'8" and 220 pounds now, and that Mooney's "versatility upside is as good as anybody we’ve had come through our program and that includes Chandler."

Taking commitments from prospects in classes three years down the road is a little unusual in college basketball, but if Mooney has as much potential as his coach seems to think, it might work out just fine. Florida pursuing and getting Mooney's commitment may also be about playing defense for elite in-state prospects: UCF, coached by former Florida assistant Donnie Jones, has been money of late on the recruiting trail, snagging former Miami commit Adonys Henriquez and 2015 studs Chad Brown, Alex Owens, and Corey Sanders in the last month.

Chris Walker gets a run in with the Gators

Finally, wrapping up our wrap of qualified good news for Florida, a since-deleted Instagram shot of Chris Walker showed him in Florida gear at Florida's practice facility in late September. Walker's still not enrolled at Florida, so he can't practice with the team, or formally be directed to do things by Florida's coaches, but there's nothing wrong with him showing up at Florida's facilities and getting a run in with his future teammates, which a source confirmed to me was what happened in this case. (I assume the picture's since been deleted so as to not prompt more questions.)

Hopes are still high that Walker will be eligible to enroll at Florida in December, and could contribute to the Gators shortly after enrolling. ESPN's Dick Vitale hinted at the possibility of Walker being eligible in December on Twitter on Thursday, in a bizarre tweet that also featured a picture of himself and his wife for some reason.

Star-divide

Andy Hutchins is Alligator Army's managing editor. Follow Alligator Army on Twitter and Facebook.

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