After earning All-American status as one of the best high school players in the nation, Chris Walker was poised to step into a leading role at Florida. Coach Billy Donovan’s Gators had been eliminated in the Elite Eight in three consecutive seasons, and the 6-foot-9 freshman was finally going to be the cog that got UF over the hump.
However, a source at CBSSports.com has learned that Walker will not be enrolling in classes this semester and as a result will be ineligible to practice or play with the team.
Walker is a consensus top-10 prospect from the Class of 2013 who has spent recent months taking three online classes in an attempt to meet the NCAA’s minimum requirement for freshman eligibility at the Division I level. Based on the NCAA’s sliding scale that combines a recruit’s grade point average and standardized test score, Walker needs to finish with a 2.6 GPA in his core courses. Simply put, a source said, he’s yet to finish the coursework and can’t enroll until he does.
“But he’s close,” a source said. “He should enroll and be eligible in December.”
There’s a silver lining to this big-time setback for the Gators. Final exams are scheduled to be completed at Florida on Dec. 13. If Walker can have his core coursework completed in time, he can enroll immediately after testing is complete.
Florida’s first game is scheduled for Dec. 17 against Memphis in Madison Square Garden. If Walker can get everything taken care of in order to meet minimum eligibility requirements, he may still be able to join the team in time for the meat of the 2013-14 season.
Whether that will happen – or whether Donovan would be comfortable playing a true freshman that has not practiced yet – seems to be entirely up to young Walker at this point.