DeVon Walker changes mind on transfer, will return to Florida

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Florida thought it was losing small forward DeVon Walker. Then Walker thought again.

Just one week after deciding to transfer from Florida, rising sophomore small forward DeVon Walker has changed his mind, and will remain with the Gators.

The quotes, via that GatorZone release:

"Florida is such a great place, and the more I thought about it, I just realized this is where I want to be," Walker said. "The coaching staff has helped me get better on and off the court over the past year and I really enjoy being around my teammates, so I’m excited to refocus on my future here in Gainesville."

"We always encourage guys to do what they feel is best for their future, and we’re glad that DeVon will be continuing with us here at Florida," head coach Billy Donovan said.

Walker's transfer was announced last Monday, and, well, here was my take then:

Walker, who was the final member of Florida's four-man 2012 recruiting class, committed very late in the 2012 cycle, and was seen as a bit of a reach, despite being No. 142 in the Rivals150 for 2012. His slight build and lack of SEC-caliber offensive game made him a little-used reserve in 2012-13, when he played 99 minutes over 25 games and made just four of 22 field goals.

Walker might have gotten even less playing time in 2013-14, though, with Dorian Finney-Smith, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, and Chris Walker likely to receive the lion's share of time at the forward positions for the Gators. And while a player like Walker can be helpful to a team as an extra body even when buried on a depth chart, being buried is rarely helpful to a college basketball player — or fun.

As with fellow freshman-turned-transfer Braxton Ogbueze, I think Walker's a really good kid who will have success somewhere, but this is mostly a case of a player reading the writing on the wall and figuring out that his best move involved a physical move. I wish Walker (and Ogbueze) the best in their basketball and academic futures.

I still think Walker's slight and lacks an SEC-caliber offensive game; I still think he's unlikely to get many minutes in 2013-14; I still think he can be helpful to Florida; I still think his 2013-14 might not be a lot of fun. But, now that he's staying, I should be more specific about what he can do: Walker's a rangy player who has superb length for playing in a press defense and guarding perimeter players, and, if he bulks up even a little, could be part of a devastating press in 2013-14 should Donovan choose to deploy one. It wouldn't matter that Walker's shot isn't up to par, or that he lacks the ability to create for himself: If he can do one thing at an elite level, Donovan's smart enought o find a use for him.

I also think Walker's best move would be to take a redshirt in 2013-14, bulk up, stay smart and stay studying, learn as much as possible from all the talented players he'll see daily in practice, and step into a bigger role in 2014-15. Florida could use him this season, but it could almost certainly get more utility out of him from 2014 to 2017, and, if Walker does the right things academically, he could leave UF with a degree and progress toward another, multiple degrees — or as a graduate transfer who could theoretically play right away somewhere else in 2016-17.

Also: Obviously, Donovan can credibly relate to Walker's change of heart, given the change of heart he had after accepting a job as Orlando Magic head coach in the summer of 2007 that led him back to Florida. That makes Donovan smarter about second chances, not an inconstant star in the constellation of college basketball. And I think pretty much everyone in Gator Nation is happy Donovan eventually made the decision he did. Here's hoping we feel the same about Walker, too.

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