Florida freshman Chris Walker cleared by NCAA

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the nation's best teams could be about to get even better.

Florida freshman Chris Walker has been cleared by the NCAA and will suit up for the first time when the Gators host Missouri next Tuesday.

Walker, a former McDonald's All-American who was rated the No. 6 player in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com, missed the first semester of this season because of academics. He enrolled at Florida in December after meeting the NCAA's minimum academic eligibility requirements, but has been sitting out while the NCAA reviewed a pre-enrollment eligibility issue. During this time, the 6'10 Walker has been allowed to practice with the Gators, but not participate in any games.

The NCAA explained why it elected to suspend Walker for a total of 12 games in a press release Wednesday evening:

Walker received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents. In addition, Walker will be required to donate the $270 received from the agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.

According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and NCAA staff, when Walker was a prospect, he accepted free cell phones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel. Additionally, individuals close to Walker received free airfare and lodging for nine different trips, including eight associated with Walker's non-scholastic basketball team competitions.

The Gators have performed well enough without Walker, currently owning an overall record of 17-2 and a perfect 6-0 mark in SEC play. They'll carry national rankings of No. 3 and No. 4 into Thursday night's game at Mississippi State.

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