Chris Walker has been admitted to Florida and joined the Gators at practice on Saturday, the school has announced.
Chris Walker has been admitted to UF and is eligible to practice, but is not yet eligible to compete.— Gator M-Basketball (@GatorZoneMBK) December 14, 2013
He will begin practicing with our team today.— Gator M-Basketball (@GatorZoneMBK) December 14, 2013
GREAT TO BE A GATOR!!!— Matt McCall (@CoachMattMcCall) December 14, 2013
Walker's eligibility was the source of much curiosity since his graduation from high school earlier in 2013, as he was initially unqualified to even enroll at the University of Florida, thanks to circumstances of his high school education. He spent much of this fall working on coursework that would permit him to enroll this December, and successfully completed it, allowing him to enroll now for the spring semester.
But Walker has not been cleared to compete, as Florida noted, and there may be non-academic reasons for that: Gator Country's Franz Beard reported last Saturday that Walker may face a two- or three-game suspension from the NCAA for an unofficial visit to Kansas paid for by his former AAU coach.
Billy Donovan also told reporters earlier this week that Walker is not going to play for Florida against Memphis on December 17, which makes sense from a basketball standpoint — Walker's been working out and hooping while in NCAA purgatory, but he won't be in game shape as of Tuesday. Florida's schedule would seem to permit Walker enough time to be in shape for a game against Fresno State next Saturday, though, or at least by a December 29 home game against Savannah State.
If we don't see Walker until Florida's January 4 game against Richmond — and Only Gators' Adam Silverstein is reporting that Walker has been told not to expect to play until 2014 — it's probably a good bet that he has spent the time between now and then in NCAA suspension limbo.
As for the most pressing concern about Walker — what number is he wearing? — pictures released by Florida show him donning a No. 23 jersey.
The last Florida player to wear 23 was Bradley Beal, in the 2011-12 season.
He was pretty good, too.