Freshman Walter Pitchford will transfer from Florida, the school announced through GatorZone's Chris Harry on Wednesday. Pitchford, who played sparingly as a reserve forward this year and was the afterthought in the recruiting class that brought in Bradley Beal, will look to transfer to a school closer to his home in Michigan.
"It’s been great learning from Coach Donovan and competing with my teammates here at Florida," Pitchford said in a statement. "I made this decision because I need to be closer to my family at this time."
Pitchford's family has had unspecified serious medical troubles dating back to at least 2010, and transferring back home to be near them is an obviously understandable decision. But Pitchford, a player who needed to bulk up and get seasoned before getting big minutes later in his career, will also have a much better chance of receiving ample playing time at a school with a roster less talented than the Gators'.
And his decision to transfer opens up another scholarship for Florida, which was looking at a crunch between the possibility of Beal's return, the potential commitment of Anthony Bennett, and the incoming recruiting class of commits Michael Frazier and Dillon Graham. It's a win-win situation for Pitchford and Florida, and with both player and program parting ways on good terms, this is the sort of transfer that goes down easy.
In other Florida basketball news, which we didn't really cover in detail on Monday, assistant coach Norm Roberts is leaving Billy Donovan's staff to return to Kansas, where he served as Bill Self's assistant for one year in 2003-04 before leaving to become the head coach at St. John's.
Roberts, who worked with Self for eight years prior to Self's arrival in Lawrence, was Donovan's assistant for just one year, and will also get a chance to coach his son, Niko, a walk-on at Kansas.
Roberts was the odd man out on a coaching staff that featured long-time Donovan lieutenant John Pelphrey and up-and-coming Donovan acolyte Matt McCall, and it's no huge surprise to see him take an opportunity that makes plenty of sense for him. Roberts' departure should not be a hugely worrisome one — Donovan restocked his staff with those three coaches after Larry Shyatt became the head coach at Wyoming, Rob Lanier took an assistant coaching job at Texas, and Richard Pitino rejoined his father Rick at Louisville in the aftermath of the 2010-11 season — but his ties to the New York City area were useful for a team that is very much away from many of the hotbeds for basketball recruiting above the Mason-Dixon line.