Chris Walker (USATSI)
When Chris Walker enrolled at Florida in mid-December after finally meeting the NCAA's minimum academic eligibility requirements, the Gators were optimistic it wouldn't be long before the McDonalds All-American made his college debut.
Turns out nearly a month has gone by without Walker donning a Florida jersey for the first time.
A source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday that the reason for the latest delay is not academic-related and instead stems from an NCAA investigation into a pre-enrollment eligibility issue. No decision on Walker's eligibility is imminent, according to the source, even though the investigation began well before the 6-foot-9 forward was able to enroll at Florida last month.
Florida officials have not commented on the specifics of the investigation, but it could be related to Walker's ties with former Florida Rams AAU coach Matt Ramker. The NCAA said in July 2012 that the Rams and three other high-profile AAU programs had contact with agent Andy Miller, who urged Ramker and others to steer players toward his ASM Sports Agency.
The delay in Walker's case has frustrated Florida fans eager to see their latest five-star recruit in action.
Florida students donned "Free Chris Walker" t-shirts during Tuesday's home game against Georgia. Even Gators coach Billy Donovan expressed exasperation Monday that Walker would not be in uniform Tuesday and that he has received no indication when that will change.
"Right now, I have hope and optimism that a kid that has been totally forthright and honest and has given everything he possibly could, that you know, the NCAA will do the right thing," Donovan told reporters in Gainesville on Monday evening.
"I’m not at liberty to talk about all the things that are going on with him, for one because I don’t know all those things and, two, it’s more of a school issue. It doesn’t really concern us as far as our coaching staff or our team. It’s stuff that our institution is handling, and you just have hope and optimism that the NCAA is going to sit there and say, you know what, this kid sat out some games. He’s been forthright, he’s been truthful and we’re going to get to a speedy decision on this thing."
Though Walker has not played in a meaningful game since February, he is capable of bolstering a Florida team that is 13-2 and ranked seventh in the nation even without him.
Walker isn't the most polished big man, but his shot-blocking, freakish athleticism and dazzling ability to finish at the rim would add another dimension to Florida's frontcourt. Add Walker to a group that includes Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Dorian Finney-Smith, and the Gators would boast one of the deepest frontcourts in the nation.
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