Posted: 1:44 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
It took three semesters of patience, but Florida has finally parted ways with Damontre Harris.
Harris's time as a Gator had been rocky without him even seeing the court. Since transferring from South Carolina to Florida in 2012, Harris had been arrested for failure to appear, injured repeatedly, and both suspended and in limbo for the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
But the issue with Harris boils down to not wanting to work with Donovan to get back on the court and in the program's good graces. Here are all the quotes from Donovan in the GatorZone article:
"He was never disrespectful as far as his attitude. He was a nice kid and never blamed anybody for what was happening," Donovan said. "We tried to help him off the court and help him with some of the challenges he was dealing with. But there was never this reciprocation of wanting to be helped or wanting to to do the things necessary."
"It may mean him getting to a place where he can play the game on his terms," Donovan said. "Someone may let him to do that. Here, it’s not our philosophy or belief."
"The things we were asking him to do weren’t anything out of the norm," Donovan said. "But we’d go a week without hearing from him. He wouldn’t return our phone calls or text messages. His teammates didn’t know where he was."
"I think he realizes that a big opportunity for him is now gone," Donovan said. "The thing I tried to get across to him, if he has any aspirations of playing professional basketball there is not one team in this country or overseas that is going to tolerate this type of behavior, and I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t hold him accountable for these things."
Nothing Donovan says in those quotes sounds unreasonable. He's striking a balance between saying "Look, we can't help Damontre any more than we did without him helping himself," which has been his consistent refrain this fall, and "Look, Damontre's a knucklehead," which "where he can play the game on his terms" hints at.
We wrote about Florida not having Harris around and what it would mean last week in an Around the World, but it bears repeating: Harris was an elite shot-blocker at South Carolina, and would likely have been a force for Florida defensively, helping a front line that has to rely on Patric Young as the Gators' only true center.
And we also wish Harris the best in his future endeavors, even if an inability to get right as a college basketball player under Billy Donovan's tutelage is an indication that he may have a lot of personal work to do.