Harris returns to Florida

Harris returns to Florida

Damontre Harris realized over Christmas break that he made a mistake. He decided to reach out to Florida coach Billy Donovan and apologize for the way he handled his time in Gainesville. Harris is now back in classes at Florida after having a chance to transfer elsewhere. He won't play this season but will try to work his way back onto the team for the 2014-15 season.

Damontre Harris had opportunities to go elsewhere. He was released from the team for good on December 21 and planned to return home for the holidays and make a decision about where to transfer. Florida coach Billy Donovan said multiple Division I and NAIA schools reached out and offered Harris a spot on their roster.

Things changed over Christmas break. The 6-10 big man started to regret blowing his opportunity in Gainesville, so he reached out to Donovan to see if there was a chance he could earn his way back into a Florida uniform.

"I think the easy thing for me would've been to just remove him and keep him away, but I think it would be a great story in his life if we can find a way to try to help him," Donovan said. "He knows exactly what he needs to do."

The process will be similar to the one Scottie Wilbekin went through this offseason. Wilbekin was suspended from the team on June 10 and didn't make his debut with Florida this season until the sixth game of the regular season.

For Harris, it could be a longer process. He's out of shape and will soon begin working with the Florida strength and conditioning staff again before returning to practice. His focus now will be providing a body for the other big men on the roster to face in practice.

But he knows the expectations on him if he wants to eventually return to the Florida team.

"This was all his decision in terms of really being persistent with me over the holidays and saying he felt like he made a huge mistake," Donovan said. "He feels like Florida basketball is all he's got, and he needs our help. He understands the criteria and groundwork that needs to be done.

"It's going to be a long road for him. Whether or not he can do it, we'll see. But he wants to give it a shot. I figured I'd like to try to help him. But he wants to be here. Right now, his responsibility is to make our team better moving forward."

WILBEKIN INJURES ANKLE: With just minutes remaining in Florida's blowout win over South Carolina, Scottie Wilbekin missed a layup and rolled around in pain under the basket. The senior point guard rolled his right ankle -- the same one that suffered a high ankle sprain at Connecticut on December 2. Wilbekin was helped off the court by athletic trainer Duke Werner without putting any weight on it.

There wasn't much information known after the Florida win. It's officially an ankle sprain, which is better news for Florida than the high ankle sprain Kasey Hill suffered earlier this year that kept him out for three weeks.

However, Wilbekin remains questionable for Florida's trip to Arkansas on Saturday. The Razorbacks maintain the third-highest home winning streak in the country at 25 games.

"I would say right now probably questionable for Saturday would be my guess," Donocan said of Wilbekin. "They took him off the floor and iced him immediately. He's out of (Thursday's) practice, and we'll see where he's at on Friday."

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