Billy Donovan on Cody Larson: good kid who made a mistake
Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn't aware of Cody Larson's pending legal troubles before he recruited him, but the Florida head coach said Monday Larson was completely honest about the situation once the recruitment process began and ultimately after a thorough investigation he felt like the player deserved a chance to play for the Gators.
"I know people there around that situation very well because of (former Gator and South Dakota native) Mike Miller’s situation, same area and a lot of familiar people that I trust and respect,'' Donovan said. "I think for Cody, when he decided to open up his recruitment, I had no knowledge of any of this stuff. But when we got into the recruiting process, they were very, very forthright, they were very up front and they were very open about what had happened. And for him, I sensed a young man that, one, is probably very, very naïve in a lot of respects. And two, the people that I’ve known because of dealing with Mike (Miller) said he’s a great kid and he made a mistake. I think he’s very, very remorseful for what happened.'
Larson, who is also a native of South Dakota, was charged earlier this month with inhabiting a room knowing drugs were kept or used there. Law enforcement officials said the incident happened at Larson's home.
The 18-year-old was given a 120-day suspended sentence last Friday and ordered to volunteer three nights a week until he leaves to play basketball for the Gators at the end of June. Larson must also speak next year at all four
Donovan said the decision to extend Larson a scholarship wasn't made without consultation with UF athletic administrators.
"I talked to Jeremy Foley (UF athletic director) and Jamie McCloskey (UF's compliance director) and our school was totally aware of what was going on,'' Donovan said. "They looked into it too, and I think we all felt like this was a mistake that he made that he’s certainly paying the penalty for. But going forward we feel like he could be a good person and a good player. And everybody around him that I know says nothing but great things about him.''
Donovan said after getting to know Larson, he believes he's a good person who simply made a mistake.
"From my perspective, getting to know him a little bit better, I think that this was a mistake that he made that he took responsibility for, he was up front, open and honest with me about, and then checking with people around him I felt like he was a good kid who made probably a bad decision, and a bad choice,'' Donovan said..