Florida sophomore forward Chris Walker will enter the 2015 NBA Draft, the school announced on Friday.
Florida provides these quotes from Walker and Billy Donovan in its release:
"I want to thank the coaching staff, my teammates and everyone at Florida for my experience here," Walker said. "I’m excited to continue pursuing my dream of playing professionally."
"Chris has been a pleasure to coach," Donovan said. "He is a great kid with a lot of potential, and everyone here wishes the absolute best for him."
The announcement follows Thursday reports that Walker would not return to Florida for his junior season.
Walker averaged averaged 4.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game while playing under 15 minutes per night at Florida in 2014-15. He finishes his Gators career with just five games of double-digit scoring.
Walker was touted as a five-star prospect when he committed to Florida in 2012, as a member of the Gators' 2013 recruiting class, and finished as a consensus top-10 player. But his Florida career was rife with false starts — a fall semester spent in academic exile before his enrollment in December 2013; another six weeks spent sidelined as a result of improper benefits related to an unofficial visit to Kansas; a three-game suspension to begin the 2014-15 season — and highlighted by mere flashes of greatness, never a sustained high level of play.
And his stock in NBA talent evaluators' eyes, which was once so high that he was considered a likely lottery pick, has slipped significantly. DraftExpress does not have Walker in its latest mock 2015 NBA Draft, nor among its top 100 prospects.
Walker's a bloom from hard soil, to be certain, and could use the life-changing money of an NBA contract more than most. Add in the fact that his chances of eventually being a professional player wouldn't get better at Florida next year, and rumblings that his grades might not have permitted a return to the court in orange and blue, and Walker's departure makes plenty of sense.
Good luck, Chris. We wish you the best.