Guard misses Georgia game

Updated: February 18, 2004, 4:34 AM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Florida guard Christian Drejer is weighing an offer to play for a professional team in Barcelona, Spain and did not play in the Gators' SEC game Tuesday night at Georgia.

Drejer did not travel with the team to Athens, Ga., where the Gators lost 76-62. Florida coach Billy Donovan is expected to meet with him Wednesday upon returning to Gainesville, but sources close to the situation said the offer from the Barcelona team will be too lucrative for Drejer to pass up.

"I didn't do anything on trying to sell him on staying here," Donovan said. "I told him I didn't think it was the best decision for him and his career, but that he needed to do what he felt was best."

It is unusual for a college basketball player to leave his team during the season to play professionally abroad. The Barcelona team has been in contact with Drejer's father.

"What ended up happening, they went through his family and the people who knew him," Donovan said. "The people he was close to sold him on the idea that he needed to listen to this. He was very confused."

The last prominent foreign player to leave a college team in the middle of the season to play professionally overseas was Rodrigo de la Fuente, who left Washington State on the eve of the 1998 Pac-10 season. De la Fuente was the Cougars' leading scorer and left for a professional contract in his native spain.

Drejer, who is from Denmark, plays the point, shooting guard, and small forward positions for Florida (14-8, 5-6 SEC). He is averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 20 games.

Donovan started Lee Humphrey at guard against the Bulldogs.

Florida probably could have used Drejer in the loss to Georgia when the Gators were held to their second-fewest points of the season.

"Without Christian, it was another scoring option and playmaker that we didn't have," said Matt Walsh, who led the Gators with 28 points. "It affected us. We are used to having him on the wing. Losing an option like that hurts."

Florida was No. 1 in December but has fallen out of the rankings for the first time in five years. The Gators have lost four of five, damaging their hopes of making another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Georgia said it was easier to shut down Florida's offense with Drejer back in Gainesville.

"That was a big relief for us," Bulldogs guard Levi Stukes said. "He would have been another scorer we had to stop."

Drejer spent much of his freshman season dealing with nagging injuries. He flirted with the idea of playing professional basketball for the past two years and came close to entering the NBA draft before he deciding to play for Donovan. Drejer chose Florida over Gonzaga.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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