When we last heard from McDonald’s All American forward Chris Walker, he was finally allowed to enroll at the University of Florida. However, the big man still hasn’t seen the court as a member of the Florida Gators, and many were beginning to lose hope that he would ever be cleared to play during the 2013-2014 season.
Those fears have been alleviated.
Florida freshman Chris Walker has been cleared by the NCAA, sources told ESPN. Eligible to play Tuesday.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 29, 2014
Multiple outlets are reporting that Walker has been fully cleared by the NCAA, and as a result, the 6-foot-10 forward will make his collegiate debut against Missouri on Tuesday night. It has been a long and winding journey for Walker, who ESPN listed as the #12 recruit in the Class of 2013, but the reason for his ineligibility has also been revealed, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Here is a look at the reasoning, per Goodman’s piece about Walker’s reinstatement:
The NCAA said in a statement that Walker received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents. Walker will be required to donate the $270 he received from the agents to a charity and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.
The NCAA also found that Walker, while a prospect, received free cellphones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel. Individuals close to Walker received free airfare and lodging for nine trips — including eight associated with AAU competitions.
Regardless of what has transpired to keep him off the floor, this is a huge get for Billy Donovan’s club. Florida has done more than just stay afloat, ranking #3 in the country and coming off of a nice road win on Thursday night, but you can never have enough talent on the front-line, and Walker provides a combination of size and athleticism that is unmatched behind Florida’s best big, Patric Young.
It’s probably unrealistic to assume that Walker will be dominant from the moment he takes the floor, but with a “normal” progression, he could be a beast by the time March arrives.