- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Florida coach Billy Donovan has taken on so many transfers that it’s looking more like his trademark than a trend.

Donovan officially added the latest to his roster Thursday, with the announcement that former South Florida center John Egbunu has enrolled at Florida for the summer semester.

The 6-foot-10 Egbunu will start classes June 30. He will have to sit out the 2014-15 season, after which he will have three years of eligibility remaining. Egbunu averaged 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds as a freshman at USF, earning a spot on the American Athletic Conference’s all-rookie team.

John Egbunu has got unbelievable upside and potential,” Donovan said Thursday. “He’s really long, he’s athletic. I think this year sitting out will be really, really important for him in terms of his development.”

Egbunu is the second to transfer to Florida in recent months, joining former Michigan forward Jon Horford. The younger brother of NBA forward Al Horford, Jon is taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows student-athletes who have graduated and have one year of eligibility remaining to transfer without penalty. He will be eligible to play this fall.

The Gators have four more transfers on the roster: former Duke forward Alex Murphy, former Virginia Tech forward Dorian Finney-Smith, former Rutgers guard Eli Carter and Donovan’s son, former Catholic University guard Billy Donovan.

“The decision that they made coming out of high school a lot of times is not a decision that’s going to keep or it’s not based on their happiness because they don’t know what they’re walking into,” coach Donovan said. “They get caught up in the recruiting or what they think’s going to make them happy, and then when they go into a situation they’re not happy, they’ve got to re-evaluate, ‘OK, I’m making a change and going to another school.’”

Florida has been a popular landing spot.

Donovan has had at least one transfer on his roster in each of the last six years, beginning with center Vernon Macklin (Georgetown) during the 2008-09 season and continuing with guard Mike Rosario (Rutgers) and then Finney-Smith. Carter, Murphy and Horford are expected to join Finney-Smith on the floor next season.

Florida had another transfer on the roster, but Donovan said Thursday that forward/center Damontre Harris has moved on again.

Harris transferred to Florida from South Carolina in 2012 and sat out the 2012-13 season. He was supposed to be eligible last fall, but was suspended indefinitely before the season. He was reinstated in December, but Donovan said there had been no change in Harris’ level of responsibility in recent months.

“Damontre is not a bad kid,” Donovan said. “He’s a good kid, but really undisciplined and unreliable in a lot of ways. … He’s just not responsible enough to do the things that we need to do every single day and I think I would be doing him a disservice as a coach to push him through the system and just try to keep him eligible and get him to the floor and just have him go out there and play because I don’t believe you can win like that.”

The Gators lost four starters from a team that won a school-record 30 consecutive games, went 18-0 in the Southeastern Conference and earned the overall top seed in the NCAA tournament. Florida lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the Final Four, a tearful goodbye for seniors Casey Prather, Scott Wilbekin, Will Yeguete and Patric Young.

The transfers should add to a solid nucleus that includes the versatile Finney-Smith, sharp-shooter Michael Frazier II, dynamic point guard Kasey Hill and big man Chris Walker. Florida also has incoming freshmen Chris Chiozza, Brandone Francis and Devin Robinson.

“Sometimes a kid does need a change of scenery, a change of situation,” Donovan said. “But sometimes when a player leaves one program because he views that situation as being bad, a lot of times it’s he himself that needs to change and make some adjustments. Most of the time when we get a transfer to come in here they can look back at their past experiences and realize to a certain level they need to change and get better.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide