By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida guard Eli Carter is on the move again.
Carter announced Monday that he has decided to transfer for the second time in three years, becoming the third player to leave the Gators since the end of the season.
Carter joins fellow guard Michael Frazier II and forward/center Chris Walker as players who have left school early in the last month. The decisions come amid questions about a possible move by coach Billy Donovan to the NBA.
“We appreciate everything that Eli has done in his two years in Gainesville,” Donovan said in a statement. “We all wish him well and will do whatever we can to help him take this next step in his career.”
The 6-foot-2 Carter spent the first two years of his college career at Rutgers and then transferred to Florida after the 2012-13 season. He sat out most of the 2013-14 season while recovering from a broken leg and then averaged 8.8 points a game as a redshirt sophomore last season.
He is on track to graduate in May and will be eligible to play right away at his third school in five years under the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule.
“I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had here at Florida,” Carter said. “I’ll always appreciate the coaches, teammates and fans that made my time here memorable.”
The Paterson, New Jersey, native reached the 1,000-point career scoring milestone in February. He had three 20-point games last season, led the Gators in scoring on five occasions and had 15 games with multiple 3-pointers made.
The earlier departures mean Florida could have a vastly different look next season. Not only is Donovan possibly a candidate to become the next coach of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, but Frazier, Carter and Walker started a combined 42 games last season.
Leading scorer Dorian Finney-Smith, point guard Kasey Hill, former Duke transfer Alex Murphy and freshmen Devin Robinson and Chris Chiozza will be the only returning players. They will be joined by South Florida transfer John Egbunu, Stanford transfer Schuyler Rimmer and highly touted guard Brandone Francis, who sat out last year because of academic issues.
Florida’s recruiting class _ widely regarded as one of the nation’s top 10 _ includes guard KeVaughn Allen and forwards Noah Dickerson, Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone.
The bigger question is will Donovan be the program’s coach.