ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was outspoken about Florida freshman forward Chris Walker’s uncertain situation before he was re-instated by the NCAA.
Bilas remained steadfast in his views on the topic Friday. Walker was reinstated for UF’s Feb. 4 game against Missouri after serving a 12-game suspension from the NCAA for receiving impermissible benefits from agents and travel-league coaches. Walker was admitted to UF for its second semester and would have been available to play his first game Dec. 17 against Memphis if he wasn’t suspended.
“I still don’t see the point,” Bilas said. “Chris Walker is playing now. Why he couldn’t be in school and playing the whole time is a mystery. It’s a ridiculous thing. To have the NCAA have a clearing house where every prospect, not just every player, every prospect had to play 70 or 80 bucks, I just paid it for my kid, just to go through your transcript, which is what they do at schools.
“So it’s duplicative of a core function of the schools, is beyond me. And why every kid has to pay them 70 bucks, is absurd. And what are they saying, that the school’s can’t be trusted to admit their own students and educate them. Really what they are saying, they may be committing fraud there. I mean, if that’s a problem, the accreditation services need to jump in there. That’s not a place for an Athletic Association to be governing.”
Bilas spoke at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., for a pregame taping of ESPN’s CollegeGameDay, which will air from 11 a.m. to noon from Rupp Arena and again from 8 p.m. until the opening tip at 9 p.m.
Bilas had high praise for Florida’s defense, calling it “one of the top five in the country.”
“Basketball is all about rhythm,” Bilas said. “To establish yours and disrupt theirs. And they do a good job of disrupting rhythm. They don’t allow many transition baskets in the halfcourt. They change defenses a lot. They will press. They’ll press to slow you down, sometimes they’ll press to speed you up to take advantage of you. And then in the halfcourt, they’ll play some zone, they’ll play some 1-3-1, they’ll play some man. So they keep you off balance that way. And they’re really hard to score against. It’s not like they are out forcing a million turnovers. But they are difficult to score against.”
Earlier in the week, fellow ESPN college basketball analyst Jimmie Dykes said he didn’t blueprint to beat Florida. But Bilas sees a few slight flaws.
“You have to deal with their ball screens,” Bilas said. “And I think you do have to do a good job on the glass against them because their first shot defense is so good. But second shots are available against Florida. But if you don’t guard ball screens against them, you are going to have a really hard time.”
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams had high praise for Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Williams thinks that Wilbekin as a prime example of the value of staying in school for four years.
“Scottie Wilbekin was someone who started out as a lock-down defender and you’ve watched his game mature,” said Williams, the former Duke point guard. “That’s what happens when you stay in school. That’s what happens when you become committed to something. A lot of players want instant gratification, I want to be great right now. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in time … for Scottie it started off defensively and now you are seeing him evolve into this all-around great guard, where he can do it all.”