Chris Walker, Jarell Martin

Florida’s Chris Walker may not enroll until December

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As much as we’ve all enjoyed Florida’s ridiculous workout videos and Patric Young’s attempt to woo NFL scouts, the most interesting story line of the summer for Florida has been the eligibility saga of incoming freshman Chris Walker.

Walker is a top ten recruit in the Class of 2013, a 6-foot-10 athlete that will be able to help out Florida’s front line immediately.

But he’s also a kid from Florida that stayed at his local high school instead of transferring into a program used to sending kids to Division I teams.

As a result, Walker’s relative nonchalance about academics has come back to bite him, as he failed to get himself enrolled in the classes that he needed as a freshman and a sophomore to make it through the NCAA’s Eligibility Center. As a result, he’s been playing catchup late in his high school career and over the summer.

The latest? Florida’s fall classes started on Monday, but the school has an add/drop period that lasts until August 27th. Chris Walker isn’t on Florida’s roster … yet. From Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun:

Walker may not enroll until December to ensure he meets NCAA eligibility requirements. He took three online courses over the summer in an effort to complete his core courses. Those grades then need to be reviewed by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Based on his last ACT score (16), Walker needs to finish with a 2.6 GPA or higher to gain initial NCAA eligibility.

Obviously, the ideal would be for the NCAA to come through by next Tuesday to ensure that the Gators will have Walker for the November 8th opener against North Florida, but in truth, they have enough talent in the front court to thrive in the first semester without him.

Young returns, as does Will Yeguete and Casey Prather. Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith and South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris will both be eligible to play this year. With or without Walker, that’s a front line that can stack up with just about anyone in the country.

Ironically enough, Florida’s non-conference schedule may end up being tougher than the one they will face in the SEC this year. By December 17th, Florida will already have played at Wisconsin, home against Florida State, at UConn, home against Kansas and versus Memphis in New York.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.