Billy D pleased with Hill’s humility, Walker’s effort

By Adam Silverstein
July 12, 2013

Five-star prospects point guard Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) and power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL) may have committed seven months apart, but the AAU teammates knew for quite some time that they would be playing together in Gainesville, FL, for head coach Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators.

Hill, unanimously ranked as the 10th best player in the 2013 recruiting class, has already fulfilled his end of the bargain. He enrolled at Florida in late June for the Summer B session and has already pleased the coaching staff and trainers with his attitude and ability both on and off the court.

“I spent some time with him [Tuesday],” said Donovan on Wednesday after returning from leading USA Basketball to gold the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. “He’s doing fine. He’s done well. All the reports I’ve gotten from the strength coach and coaches working with him, he’s been great. His attitude has been really good.”

With senior PG Scottie Wilbekin likely to be suspended for the start of the season after violating team rules – and the Gators without another true floor general on the roster at this time – Hill’s work ethic during the summer and fall will go a long way to earning him a starting role (whether temporary or permanent).

Donovan is pleased with he has seen thus far from Hill, who he compared to 2011 five-star guard Bradley Beal in terms of how the young man has flipped the switch from high school star to college underclassman.

“He’s been really humble. I think he’s trying to work hard,” Donovan said. “When you come in and you work and you earn the respect of the other guys on the team – we’ve got some older guys on our team that have been around for several years and have been a part of some different things here – here he is coming in as a freshman with no experience, not even a college practice under his belt. Sometimes when guys come in as freshmen, they don’t handle that the right way. It’s difficult.

“That’s not to say Kasey needs to take a backseat to anybody. He needs to work. But he also needs to understand that sometimes, when you have a level of humility and you’re a guy that’s creating chemistry, sometimes that goes a long way inside your team. The biggest thing for him is just getting better and getting acclimated to what we’re doing. He’s a very gifted, talented player. He’s got great speed and quickness. He’s a really good passer. More than anything else, earning respect inside of our team.

“It’s a whole heck of a lot different going from high school to college regardless of what your reputation is in high school. You have to earn that kind of reputation inside your team. I talked to Kasey a lot about that. He’s such a good kid, I’m not even worried about that with him. I think he understands what he’s got to do in terms of, I don’t want to say ‘proving himself,’ but he’s got to go in there and show these guys that he’s prepared to work, prepared to get better and his high school days are over with and he’s now in college.”

Respect is not what Walker needs to be concerned with earning just yet. Rather, he must ensure he earns the necessary grades in order to qualify to play college basketball this season and enroll at the University of Florida.

The Gators knew Walker would not qualify to enroll in Summer B like Hill, and as the summer continues to drag on, it is becoming less and less likely that he will be able to get in school for the fall semester either.

“He may or may not be here for the fall semester,” Donovan conceded Wednesday.

He added: “[I] haven’t heard anything back yet. Obviously he’s not here in Summer B. He’s still working towards finishing up. However long that’s going to take, I’m not really sure because he’s still working to have to go through the [NCAA] Clearinghouse and get cleared. Right now, he’s not here. We’re hopeful that it will be sooner than later, but he’s still got some work ahead of him and I think he’s trying really hard to get all that finished.”

A source close to the program told recently that Florida does not expect Walker to qualify for the fall. His grades and test scores simply needed too much improvement in order for him to turn around and qualify that quickly. However, the Gators do believe Walker will make it in for the spring, which means he would be able to play the entire Southeastern Conference slate and in the postseason.

A separate source close to Walker also told that he is laser-focused on attending Florida and has not gone in-depth considering any other options though playing in Europe for a short season would be attractive and lucrative. (Should he not qualify, he could also play in the NBA D-League among other options.) Walker wants to play for the Gators and will do whatever he can to ensure he ends up at UF.

Donovan is pleased with the effort Walker is putting into getting his grades up and is hopeful that he will be able to join the program sooner than later. He also confirmed that he believes Walker is doing what is necessary to find his way to Florida.

“The one thing I feel like with Chris, just talking to him, is his commitment to Florida and to wanting to be here. However long that takes, he wants to make that happen,” Donovan said. “He’s got some things he still needs to do.

“The one thing that we’ve tried to explain to him is the work he’s finishing up and doing, he doesn’t need to rush it. He just needs to get it done correctly, the right way. I think he’s working hard to try to make sure that happens.”

The highest-rated class in Gators basketball history is hinging on Walker eventually pulling through with the necessary grades and test scores. Florida’s frontcourt will be deep whether or not he eventually qualifies but getting Walker in the fold would give the Gators arguably the best frontline in the nation next season.

Comments are closed.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux