Five-star freshmen Chris Walker has finally been deemed eligible to play at Florida by the NCAA. Walker has been waiting patiently on the sidelines for the NCAA to make a decision about his future with the Gators, and the news finally came on Wednesday afternoon. With the addition of Walker, the Gators’ already stingy defense now becomes stronger and he makes them a legitimate contender to cut down the nets at the end of the season.
Walker’s eligibility has been in question while the NCAA investigated potential wrongdoings on his behalf while he was still in high school. The NCAA discovered that Walker had received cellphones, airfare, housing, food and clothing from two different agents. He has been ordered to pay the $270 he received as a donation to charity and serve 80 hours of community service.
With Walker now in the lineup, the Gators will be adding an explosive athlete that has a very good stroke from the outside. Walker is very long and will fit in perfectly on the defensive end from the start for Florida.
Getting him involved on the offensive end will not be easy, and immediate production from him should not be expected. The good thing is he does not need the ball in his hands to be effective on the offensive end, and with Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin doing all the heavy lifting for the Gators, Walker can blend in and take open shots whenever they arise.
The Gators were already one of the top teams in the country and one of the best defensive teams as well, but now they are better. Adding a player of Walker’s ilk at midseason will pay dividends for Florida in the long run. He is well rested and won’t have to worry about hitting the freshmen wall as the season will be over by the time that happens. As long as he can fit in offensively, I see this as nothing but a plus for Florida this season.
Not only does having Walker this season improve the Gators for the remainder of this year, it also likely means Florida will be getting at least on more year out of him. If he wasn’t ever going to be cleared by the NCAA, Walker would have definitely gone to the NBA — that’s a no-brainer; now that he gets a chance to play, but not a lot, he might have to stay another year to prove to scouts just how good he is.
If that is the case, then this decision is even better than Florida could have ever imagined.