Chris Walker, Jarell Martin

Chris Walker still has time to try to get eligible for this season


Every season, there seems to be at least one player whose academic eligibility gets dragged out throughout the summer.

This summer, the man in the spotlight is Florida big man Chris Walker.

The 6-foot-10 Walker, who was a top ten recruit thanks to some high-flying athleticism that allowed him to win the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest, decided not to bail on the guardian and the high school that had been loyal to him throughout high school.

The problem?

His grades weren’t as good as they should be, and remaining at the smaller high school meant that he would be working with guidance counselors and teachers that aren’t accustomed to having to navigate the NCAA’s Eligibility Center. As a result, Walker’s been working on improving his ACT and taking classes this summer to try and get himself eligible.

According to this report, Walker has already been ruled ineligible, but that information appears to be incorrect. And thanks to John Infante, we have some clarity as to why:

For a prospect to absolutely be a nonqualifier in July, it would need to be one of a couple situations. The prospect would need to be more than one credit short of the core course requirements, or be so short of the required GPA based on his or her test core that they cannot get their grades up using the exception that allows one core course credit earned after graduation.

It’s true that Walker is rapidly running out of chances to qualify by August. But even that is not a guarantee at this time. He could still take another summer school or online course to try and boost his GPA before Florida starts school on August 21 (even going a week or so past that date is a possibility).

And if Walker still has not qualified by the start of Florida’s fall semester, he can still try and qualify by January. That actually gives him more options, since in addition to continuing to take postgraduate courses he could also register for one of the three SATs or three ACTs offered during the fall. Assuming that Walker’s issue is just a GPA/test score sliding scale shortfall, this could theoretically go on indefinitely, as long as he does not enroll in a collegiate institution.

The way that Infante explains it, players don’t get ruled ineligible permanently. Instead, they are labeled as qualifiers, partial qualifiers and non-qualifiers, and it’s all a sliding scale. Qualifiers can play immediately on scholarship, partial qualifiers essentially have to take an academic redshirt (think Ben McLemore), and non-qualifiers are ineligible for athletically-related financial aid, practice and competition during their first year in school. They can play out their career, however, and will even get back their fourth year of eligibility if they complete 80% of their degree by their fifth-year in college.

So at this point, the idea that Walker is completely ineligible to play at Florida seems unlikely.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.