The long wait for Damontre Harris is over. Saturday afternoon, Harris, a 6-10 225-pound center originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina who spent his first two collegiate seasons at South Carolina, let Billy Donovan know he will sign a letter of intent with the University of Florida. Harris made the decision to transfer after South Carolina fired head coach Darrin Horn and hired Frank Martin to replace him.
Per NCAA rules, Harris will not be able to play for the Gators in the 2012-13 season but will allowed to practice.
Landing Harris not only solidifies a big man rotation for 2013 that might be without Patric Young, who can graduate a year early next spring and is expected to go on to the NBA, but it is a very big win on the recruiting trail for the Gators, who won a head-to-head battle with Bill Self and Kansas. When Harris originally decided to transfer, his shopping list included Virginia, Marquette and Xavier.
With the commitment of Harris, the Gators will have 13 on scholarship for 2012-13. Sources at Florida have indicated that the Gators are still in the hunt to land Virginia Tech transfer Dorian-Finney Smith and that there is a contingency plan in place to accommodate one more scholarship player. Finney-Smith, a 6-8, 200-pound multi-position player in the Chandler Parsons mode, is expected to make a decision between Florida and Georgetown in the next two weeks.
During the first week of May, Harris narrowed his choices down to Florida and Kansas. He visited Florida May 4-5 and went immediately to Kansas for his official visit the next day. Reports of a superb Kansas visit had fans and experts alike thinking that Harris would likely choose the Jayhawks but after nearly three weeks of silence and speculation, Harris made his choice with a call to Donovan Saturday.
Harris averaged 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds for a XXX South Carolina team last season, emerging in the last half of the season as one of the better shot blockers in the Southeastern Conference, swatting away 2.3 shots per game. Harris had perhaps his best game of the season against Florida in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center when he scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked six shots. He had a season high 14 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Mississippi State.
Harris joins Kasey Hill (6-1, 175, Clermont, FL/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy) as Florida’s commitments for the recruiting class of 2013.
Here is a look at the Florida roster for 2012-13:
Cody Larson (6-9, 230 RSO); * Damontre Harris (6-10, 225)
* Transfer; will sit out 2012-13
Braxton Ogbueze (6-1, 185); Michael Frazier (6-5, 200); Dillon Graham (6-4, 185); DeVon Walker (6-6, 190)