Damontre Harris

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Report: Damontre Harris will not return to Florida


Damontre Harris will not be returning to the Florida basketball program, according to a report from CBSSports.com.

Harris was an all-SEC defensive team performer as a sophomore at South Carolina in 2011-2012 before he made the decision to transfer to Florida. But after sitting out the 2012-2013 season as a transfer, Harris never saw the court last season due to off-the-court issues and was, for a time, kicked off of the team.

There was speculation that Harris would be allowed to return to the team for the 2014-2015 season, but that dissipated when Donovan accepted John Egbunu, a transfer from South Florida. Egbunu became the 14th player scheduled to be on scholarship next season, meaning that someone on the Florida roster had to go. Harris was the easy choice.

Harris, who was a top 100 recruit coming out of high school in 2010, averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 boards and 2.3 blocks as a sophomore with the Gamecocks. He has one season of eligibility remaining, but he’ll need to graduate immediately and receive a graduate transfer waiver to play immediately in 2014-2015. Athletes are allowed five seasons to use four years of eligibility, and 2014-2015 will be the fifth year that Harris has been a collegiate athlete.

Florida forward Damontre Harris back to practicing with the team

Billy Donovan
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Florida forward Damontre Harris is back to practicing with the team after previously being dismissed from the team last month.

The Associated Press is reporting that Harris is now running with the Florida scout team and is also involved with team activities. Head coach Billy Donovan will not allow Harris to play or sit on the bench during games though, saying that, “would completely devalue our core values”.

The former South Carolina transfer has yet to play at game at Florida after redshirting last season and being suspended this season, but as a practice body, he should help the Gators as they prepare to make a run at the SEC title and a Final Four.

Damontre Harris will re-enroll at Florida, but won’t play this season

Billy Donovan
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It was just three weeks ago that Billy Donovan announced that center Damontre Harris was no longer a member of the Florida basketball team.

The South Carolina transfer had been suspended earlier this season and it wasn’t surprising to see him eventually get the boot from Donovan.

What was surprising, however, was when Donovan announced on Wednesday night that Harris will re-enroll at Florida for the spring semester to try and work his way back onto the team. What does he have to do to make that happen? Well, Donovan wasn’t so clear. The immediate reaction from the cynic in me was that this was a clear response to Donovan’s concerns about Chris Walker’s pending NCAA eligibility, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either. Donovan also told reporters that Harris would not be playing in any games this season.

If he’s going to make a return to the court, it will be in November.

“We traded some texts over the Christmas break and he realized that he had made a big mistake,” Donovan told Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. “He wants to work his way back on the team. It’s going to be similar to Scottie Wilbekin’s situation in that he has to meet some terms and conditions. Can he make it? I don’t know, but if he does it will be a great comeback story.”

Harris was arrested last February during his redshirt season. If he doesn’t play this year, that means that he will have spent two years as a Gator without sniffing the O-Dome court for as much as a second.

Florida announces Damontre Harris officially no longer with the team

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan watches his team play the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first half in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington
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After weeks of speculation, Florida officially announced that transfer center Damontre Harris is officially no longer with the team, according to Kevin Brockway of the The Gainsville Sun.

Harris transferred to the Gators from South Carolina after averaging 6.8 points, 5.5 boards and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore, but never suited up for the Gators after being suspended earlier this season.

In a statement from head coach Billy Donovan, the coach noted that Harris was never disrespectful but didn’t earn his way back on to Florida’s roster and he also left the program in good academic standing.

Harris will likely seek a transfer and may do so without restrictions, according to Brockway.

While the loss of Harris will hurt the Gators’ interior depth, this looked like it was inevitable about a month ago and with McDonald’s All-American Chris Walker returning to practice it shouldn’t be the biggest loss for Florida, as they look like a potential title contender going forward without Harris.

Damontre Harris may never suit up for Florida

Billy Donovan
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Florida’s roster is almost fully stocked.

Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill were back in the lineup for the Kansas game last Tuesday, and Chris Walker has been admitted into Florida, is practicing with the team and, now, is awaiting word on whether or not he will be deemed eligible by the NCAA.

The Gators are still waiting on Damontre Harris, however, and it doesn’t seem like he’ll be showing up any time soon. As Billy Donovan told reporters on Monday, “I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.”

Harris is a talented big man, having averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 boards and 2.1 blocks as a sophomore at South Carolina in 2011-2012, and his addition would clearly be helpful for the Gators. But, at this point, it may almost be superfluous, especially if Walker shows up in shape and ready to contribute.

Donovan has plenty of front court pieces to work with. He doesn’t need an extra body if he’s going to be a distraction.

Florida survives against rival Florida State

Florida Gulf Coast v Florida
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Ian Miller nearly hit the shot of the season from half court that would have given Florida State a buzzer-beating win over Florida, but the ball clanked off the back of the rim, and the Gators hung on for a good early season victory, 67-66.

It was far from a pretty game for Florida. They allowed the Seminoles to claw their way back into the game and tie it at 66 in the final minute, after leading 63-55 with 2:44 remaining. They shot just 38% from the field (23-61) and 63% from the line (15-24) — four of those misses from the line came in the final 2:18 that allowed Florida State back into the game. Scottie Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith, who were both suspended earlier in the season, combined to shoot 4-25 from the field.

But, the Gators did enough to win, and this is a win that will prove to be a pretty good one later this season as Florida State has looked like a strong team in the early going with a convincing win over Virginia Commonwealth and overtime loss to Michigan.

While Wilbekin and Finney-Smith are back on the team, having Damontre Harris still suspended is another piece that the Gators are sorely missing. Harris, a transfer from South Carolina, is a 6-foot-10 center who would nicely complement Patric Young on the inside.

The underlying story for the Gators though is the play of Wilbekin and how he goes about taking over the starting point guard duties Kenny Boynton held last season. Wilbekin is a proven player who played significant minutes a year ago and is more than capable of running the show as a senior, but he looked like a player who missed the first five games of the year due to suspension. Shooting 2-13 from the field, missing layups, and taking questionable shots certainly didn’t help the Florida offense. However, he did dish out seven assists to just two turnovers.

Florida is now 6-1 through their first seven games, and ranked No. 15 in the country. To date, they haven’t looked the part as the No. 15 team, but Billy Donovan has also been parading a depleted roster out on the floor most nights. With Wilbekin and Finney-Smith now back, Florida will no doubt get better. We will have a much better idea of just how good Florida is on December 17th as their next three games are against UConn, Kansas, and Memphis — quite a stretch for the Gators.