Enjoy this Gator Three-Pack of off season Gator Hoops News from “The Youngest Gator Blogger You Know” (aka @Liam_Jones15)…
1. Chris Walker’s Eligibility Still Up In the Air
Florida Basketball commit Chris “Sky” Walker is in an uphill battle with his grades and has yet to be deemed eligible by the NCAA.
Walker, the Holmes County product, struggled through high school so while the other top college commits are on campus throwing down, he is taking three online courses to meet requirements. The NCAA standards for Division I athletes are 14 core classes, a minimum 2.0 GPA, and an 86 combined ACT score.
While you might think that academic ineligibility is the worst thing that could happen, at least Walker is bucking the trend of Florida basketball players causing trouble OUTSIDE of school.
Let all Gator fans hope that Walker’s test scores come back better and he finishes his online courses in a timely matter. “Kasey, I’ve been playing with him since 8th grade, he is a great point guard he can pass it to me, create for others and playing with him will make the game easier for me,” Walker said.
Although it is great that Walker already has chemistry with fellow Gators commit Kasey Hill, it would be nice to see him practice this summer and develop chemistry with others who are donning the orange and blue. While it looks like the Gators will have some depth next year, Walker is, among other things, too great of a rebounder and stretch player to go to waste. Not to mention all the SEC players he will put on posters.
With Wilbekin suspended indefinitely, and players transferring and retransferring, it would be nice to have this issue resolved and keep the buzz about Florida Gators basketball an on the court discussion.
2. Francis Joins Chiozza In Gators 2014 Class
If the day already wasn’t sweet enough for Billy Donovan, he added Dominican guard Brandone Francis to his 2014 recruiting class. Just about an hour earlier Donovan lead the USA U19 squad to a win over Ivory Coast. Francis is the second commit of the 2014 class for the Gators, the first being Chris Chiozza. Both players competed in the NBPA Top 100 camp and impressed analysts.
Brandone Francis 6-5 (200)
Francis, who plays for Florida Elite, has the ability to play at the point or two guard position and can finish well around the basket. Rivals have him as the #25 ranked player in 2014 while ESPN has him at 34. His size allows him to take advantage of other guards down low and his court vision enables him to be a great facilitator in transition. Francis can bring size to the Gators backcourt, something that it has lacked in past years.
Chris Chiozza 5-11 160
The shorter of the two, Chiozza gets up and throw down monster slams. He will not back down from bigger defenders and loves to drive to the paint. Threading the needle seems to be Chiozza’s specialty and that will be needed. The Gators will lose guards Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill (likely) next season.
Both guards have a lot to add to Billy Donovan’s squad if they follow through with their commitment. There are many players out on the 2014 table for UF and Donovan will now look to solidify his future front court.
3. Chicago Bulls Select Erik Murphy
Murphy is projected to be a stretch four in the NBA but it looks like he will be hard pressed to find playing time. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is very reluctant to give rookies much playing time and Murphy seems to be no different. The Bulls first round pick in 2012, Marquis Teague, averaged just over eight minutes a game this season.
Murphy will be able to stretch the floor for the Bulls, something their bigs haven’t been able to in a while. Chicago ranked in the bottom third of the NBA in 3 PT% last season but Murphy can look to bring that up.
Joakim Noah should take Murphy under his wing in order to help him adjust to the next level. Noah’s defensive tenacity and quickness will hopefully rub off on Murphy who will need it if he wants to last long on a Tom Thibodeau team.
Murphy’s obvious advantage in the NBA is his shooting and should take advantage of the pick and pop but will need to improve his rebounding, defense, and overall quickness in order to become a regular fixture for the Bulls.
Lets just keep our fingers crossed that Murph doesn’t get any ideas from Joakim’s questionable style choices.
By The Youngest Gator Blogger You Know