Chris Walker

Chris Walker will return to Florida for sophomore season

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Normally an announcement from a player who averaged 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds per game that he’s decided to return to school for another season would be a confusing one. However Florida freshman forward Chris Walker isn’t your standard player, as he remained on NBA executives’ radars despite playing in just 18 games for Billy Donovan’s Gators.

And with “upside” being seen as a positive, there was a real chance that Walker would have heard his name called in June’s NBA Draft had he decided to leave school.

But that won’t be happening, as the school announced Wednesday that Walker will return for his sophomore season. With the NCAA suspension and the presence of veterans Will Yeguete and Patric Young, Walker played an average of 14.8 minutes per game. But those two veterans did a great deal in helping Walker get acclimated to college basketball and Donovan’s way of doing things, which should serve the young forward well in 2014-15.

With the decision to return now official, Walker can proceed in his work to become the front court anchor Florida will need with Yeguete and Young both out of eligibility.

“I want to get both mentally and physically stronger and work on all aspects of my game to make me the best player possible,” Walker told “It will give me an opportunity to build my body and get more one-on-one work with my coaches and put me in the position not only to start next season, but be a main factor.”

In addition to Yeguete and Young the Gators will also lose small forward Casey Prather, which makes the development of Walker and Dorian Finney-Smith critical when assessing Florida’s chances of not only repeating as SEC champions but being a national contender. Florida will add Duke transfer Alex Murphy at the end of the fall semester, and there’s also the Damontre Harris situation to consider.

Harris, who transferred in from South Carolina, was originally dismissed from the team by Donovan in late December but managed to earn a reprieve of sorts a month later. Harris participated in practices but did not sit on the bench during games, and if he can remain in Donovan’s good graces that would give Florida another body in the front court.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.