Florida forward Chris Walker to declare for NBA Draft

Chris Walker will attempt to get drafted in June. (USATSI)
Chris Walker will attempt to get drafted in June. (USATSI)

Florida forward Chris Walker will declare for the 2015 NBA Draft , the school announced on Friday afternoon.

Sophomore center Chris Walker is leaving Florida and will put his name in the NBA Draft pool.

Walker, the 6-foot-10, 220-pounder who averaged 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds during his two UF seasons, toyed with his decision in the six weeks since the Gators’ 2014-15 campaign ended in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. After weighing his options, consulting with Coach Billy Donovan and family, plus getting feedback from NBA scouts, Walker opted for an early exit.

This decision ends what has been one of the more trying and arduous careers in recent college basketball history for a five-star high school player. In fact, the argument can be made that there has never been a more disappointing top-10-ranked recruit in the history of college basketball, as Walker only averaged 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds over the course of 49 games for the Gators. He was also routinely lost defensively over the course of the last two seasons, which is the main reason why coach Billy Donovan only played him about 15 minutes per game this past season despite a roster that was begging for his type of athleticism inside.

Walker was taken off of my top-100 board in February after showing no signs of growth in 2014-15, and probably will not make a reappearance prior to the NBA draft in June. His athleticism and long arms are intriguing in theory, but that athleticism doesn’t actually bear itself out during game play. He always seems to be a step slow in his reactions to what’s happening around him. Plus, his skill level is generally low right now, as he doesn’t have any sort of solid ball-handling ability or jump shot to speak of. These are harsh words to speak about a 20-year-old, but they are unfortunate truths about where his undeveloped game currently stands.

There are also some character concerns here for teams to worry about. Walker has admitted in the past that didn’t work hard enough in high school, which resulted in him being ineligible for the first semester of his freshman season. Then, to start his sophomore season, Walker was suspended for three games after sources told CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish that he failed a second school-administered drug test. These are all things that Walker will have to come up with answers for in interviews for prospective teams.

In my opinion, he would have been better off transferring away from Florida and starting new somewhere else rather than entering the NBA Draft. He may get invited to the NBA Draft Combine in May, and there’s a chance he’ll get drafted late in the second round simply based on his length and perceived athleticism. But the tape on him tells a pretty different story, and it’s tough to see him overcoming the complete and utter lack of production we’ve seen from him over the course of the past two years in the next two months before the draft.

Hopefully, the past two years of his life were just some sort of terrible aberration and we still have yet to see the best of Chris Walker both on and off the floor. But right now, it’s hard to see what his future will hold in basketball.


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