Florida coach Billy Donovan walked the hard line Wednesday, announcing a suspension for starting forward Chris Walker that will see him miss three games.
The sophomore will be absent for one exhibition game and the team's first two regular season match-ups, which are against William & Mary and Miami.
Walker was a highly-rated player, but saw very little playing time last season after he was ruled academically ineligible for the first half of last year's NCAA Tournament run. Even without him, the Gators earned the No. 1 overall seed with a 36-3 record before losing to eventual champion UConn in the FInal Four.
"He was an unbelievable teammate last year in terms of understanding the fact that he had missed so much of the summer, non-conference (games), and when he came here, he never once complained about playing time," Donovan said about Walker to OnlyGators.com.
Walker is the type of one-and-done player that would typically end up in the lottery by season's end, especially if he can perform well for a program known for sending athletes into the pros.
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward was a McDonald's All-American in 2013. A well-rounded player who can pass, block shots and even drop mid-range buckets, it would be surprising if he doesn't carve out a name for himself in the college season.
But first he'll have to sit out the three games after landing himself in hot water with the coaching staff.
That will put him back into the playing rotation for Florida's game on Nov. 21 against Louisiana-Monroe. He'll have to get into a rhythm quickly, because right after that the Gators will go to the Bahamas to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Their first opponent there will be Georgetown and the day after that they could face Wisconsin, which beat Florida 59-53 last year.
Academics strike again
And just as academic issues kept Walker off the court most of last season, it seems like another Florida player will be riding the pine after failing to make the grade.
Donovan also announced that freshman guard Brandone Francis will have to sit out the 2014-15 season due to academic ineligibility. The four-star shooting guard won't practice with the team this fall, according to CBS Sports, but could join the squad in the spring if he gets his grades up.
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