Jan 8, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators forward Chris Walker (23) on the bench against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half at Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Gainesville, FL---Good news Wednesday for Holmes alum and current Gator Chris Walker!
Walker has finally been cleared to begin playing with University of Florida basketball team by the NCAA. He is now expected to make his debut with the Gators in Tuesday's home game against Missouri.
The NCAA saying in a statement Wednesday 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 will also serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.
The 6-foot-11 Walker, who helped lead Holmes to a 1A state championship last season, missed the games in the first semester while he worked to get academically eligible.
He did that, enrolled at Florida in late December, and it was thought he'd be ready for the start of conference play. It didn't work out that way.
The NCAA had been looking into Walker's dealing with an AAU coach and others, eventually finding Walker, while a prospect, received free cell phones 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.
It appears the NCAA is happy with the 12 games Walker has missed while it investigated his amateur status, a suspension of sorts, if you will.
Walker joins a UF team that's ranked 3rd, at 17-2 and 6-0 in the SEC.
He will likely get limited playing time early on, spelling Florida's big men Patric Young and Will Yeguete.
Billy Donovan though hoping fans will not expect too much too soon from Walker, allowing him to grow into the game.