When Eli Carter transferred to Florida in the spring of 2013, the Gators were hopeful of adding an impact scorer who proved he could play at a high level in the Big East.
But according to Florida coach Billy Donovan, the 6-foot-2 guard from Patterson, N.J., still hasn’t completely recovered from a broken leg in February of 2013 that prematurely ended his sophomore season at Rutgers.
“He’s much, much better than he was a year ago, but he’s not the same player that he was at Rutgers,” Donovan told an Atlanta Gator Club gathering reported by Gatorzone.com. “He’s going to have to play his way back.”
Carter received a waiver to play at Florida in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal at Rutgers and appeared in seven games for the Gators during the 2013-14 season. But unable to take part in preseason conditioning, Carter was clearly hobbled and out of shape, averaging just 0.4 points and 0.7 rebounds in seven games. As a result, Carter elected to shut himself down in December and take a medical redshirt year to get fully healed.
“Right now, we’re trying to get his leg stronger,” Donovan said. “It was a really difficult injury. It’s fully healed, but there is some dysfunction there. We’re hoping we can get that back. We don’t know right now whether he can be an everyday guy at practice. That’s the biggest question mark.”
At his best, Carter projects as a crafty scorer and streaky perimeter shooter similar to another former Gators Rutgers transfer — Mike Rosario. Carter averaged 14.3 points per game in two seasons at Rutgers. Of course, Gator fans remember when Carter dropped a career-high 31 points on Florida for Rutgers in an 85-83 overtime win.
If Carter can recover, Florida could feature a quality three-guard rotation with junior shooting guard Michael Frazier II and sophomore point guard Kasey Hill. But right now, that’s a big if.
“He’s doing really, really well,” Donovan said. “But can he practice and play every single day on a regular basis? That’s what we have to see. And we’re probably not going to find that out until October.”