By summer's end, the bulk of Scout.com's 100 best players will already be committed and figure at least half of whatever is left will be leaning strongly to one school or another. AAU basketball has taken a good bit of the mystery out of college basketball recruiting, which is why the next two months are so critical. Following Memorial Day weekend, the AAU circuit will grind to a halt. June is for on campus camps and specialty camps such as LeBron James in Chicago and the NBA Players Association Development Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia. When the AAU circuit cranks up in July, it will be as if all hell broke loose as coaching staffs crisscross the country to make their presence known at big tournaments like the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina.
For Billy Donovan and his Florida coaching staff, recruiting efforts will focus on adding perhaps as many as three more players to a 2015 recruiting class that already features two commitments as well as getting a leg up on the recruiting class of 2016, which already has a committed player.
Hayes had a sensational spring last year on the AAU circuit with Nike Team Florida's 16-year-olds, who finished second at the AAU Nationals, then followed it up with an outstanding showing at Donovan's camp. He's a rock solid commitment whose upside is through the roof. He's very good around the rim and can stretch a defense out to about 15-16 feet. He's skinny but has a frame made for adding weight and he continues to grow taller (legit 6-9 now which means about 1-1/2 inches added since last year). If there is a knock on him, it's that he tries to be too much of a team player and doesn't look to get involved offensively. He's gotten much more aggressive in the last five games on the Nike circuit, averaging 12.4 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Allen, a recent commitment, has led North Little Rock to two straight Arkansas State championships. He's playing on the Nike circuit with Memphis-based Team Penny where his game has taken off since being moved to the point. In three games at the Boo Williams event, Allen scored 65 points. He's automatic from the foul line (90%), exceptional at getting to the rim off the bounce and he only has eight turnovers in nine games with Team Penny. He will come to Florida listed as a combo guard, but he seems destined to play the point.
Ted Kapita (6-9, 225, Brazzaville, Congo/Melbourne, FL Florida Air): AAU: None. He has a wingspan of 7-6 and as much or more upside of any big man in the country. He runs the floor and is an instinctive rebounder. His offensive game is still raw, but he cleans up around the rim. Florida was the first school to recruit Kapita and it's believed that it's a matter of when not if he commits to the Gators. Florida has a built-in advantage because of the Florida Air connection to Will Yeguete and Walter Hodge, both good friends of Kapita who stay in touch regularly. Texas and South Florida have made favorable impressions and Kansas has a presence since it's aggressively recruiting teammate Julius Johnson (6-3, 210, Cocoa, FL/Melbourne, FL Florida Air).
Thomas Bryant (6-10, 220, Rochester, NY/Huntington, WV Huntington Prep): AAU: Team Scan. Ranked #11 nationally by Scout.com. Bryant played his best basketball of the AAU season last weekend in Hampton when he averaged 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for Team Scan. His offensive game is limited, but he will play a strong national schedule at Huntington Prep next season so his game will have plenty of opportunity to improve. Florida is listed among his favorites with Syracuse, Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio State. He likes Billy Donovan a lot but his home is Rochester and unless he opts for Kentucky, he'll probably stay nearby and go to Syracuse.
Daniel Giddens (6-9, 215, Marietta, GA Wheeler): AAU: Each 1 Teach 1. Ranked #41 nationally by Scout.com. He's been overshadowed by the presence of LSU commit Ben Simmons (6-9, 230, Perth, Australia/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy). Giddens is averaging only 6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds for Each 1 Teach 1 on the Nike circuit but he stepped it up at last weekend's Boo Williams event where he scored 40 points and pulled down 23 rebounds while Simmons was gone. A volume shot blocker in high school, he only blocked three shots in 11 EYBL games. Florida, Arizona, Ohio State, Kansas, Georgia and Indiana are his final six schools. Arizona and Florida have gotten most of the attention but Ohio State folks think he's leaning that way. It wouldn't be a shock if he signs with Georgia.
Alex Owens (6-8, 240, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge) : AAU: Each 1 Teach 1. Ranked #96 nationally by Scout.com. He continues to list Florida although the Gators really aren't pushing his recruitment that hard. He was once committed to UCF and that's probably where he will wind up although Louisville has offered. Florida State is also making a strong push. He's averaging 7.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game coming off the bench for Each 1 Teach 1.
Jarred Reuter (6-8, 235, Boston, MA/Wolfeboro, NH Brewster Academy): AAU: New England Playaz. He's a banger from the same AAU program that produced Erik and Alex Murphy. Locals Boston College, Providence and UConn have pushed hard but he has a Florida offer and likes Billy Donovan a lot. He's got a game similar to Georgis Niang of Iowa State in that he overpowers opponents in the paint with his wide body and physical style. He's very good at absorbing contact and finishing. Watch this guy. Donovan loved Niang and this kid is almost a clone.
Eric Davis Jr. (6-3, 165, Saginaw, MI Arthur Hill): AAU: The Family. Ranked #32 nationally by Scout.com. Davis will visit Florida on June 7. Florida has moved to the head of the pack, surpassing UCLA and UNLV for Davis, who hails from the same hometown as Florida's former All-SEC point guard Anthony Roberson. Currently, he's averaging 16.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game with a high game of 34 against Blakeney and Each 1 Teach 1. At Hampton last weekend, Davis scored 83 points in four games. He's shooting 54% overall from the field this summer. The June 7 visit could produce a commitment if it goes well.
Antonio Blakeney (6-4, 175, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge): AAU: Each 1 Teach 1. Ranked #39 nationally by Scout.com. He's expected to be listed in the top 15 nationally when Scout's new rankings come out. On the AAU circuit, he's averaging 18.8 points per game with a high game of 42 last weekend in Hampton against Team United. He's started taking the ball hard to the rim where he's been finishing and getting the free throw. Blakeney remains a Florida priority although there is a growing feeling that he might be leaning to Louisville. He's also a priority recruit for Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State.
Deng Adel (6-7, 190, Melbourne, Australia/Bradenton, FL Victory Rock Christian Prep): AAU: Florida Elite. Originally from Sudan. He lists Louisville, Florida and UConn as the three teams recruiting him hard that he's most interested in, but it might be an upset if he goes anywhere but Louisville since he's best buds with Louisville sophomore Mangok Mathiang, another Sudanese kid who came to the US visa Australia. He's comfortable shooting the ball all the way out to the 3-point line and has serious elevation to get to the rim and finish.
Isaiah Briscoe (6-3, 200, Union, NJ Roselle Catholic): AAU: New Jersey Playaz. Ranked #26 nationally by Scout.com. The Gators are in his top five but trail Arizona, Baylor, Syracuse and UConn. Louisville is also coming on strong with him. He goes through maddening streaks of can't miss to can't find the ocean from the end of the pier but he always gets his points by slashing to the rim where he's exceptional at absorbing contact and getting to the line. He's averaging 17.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game on the Nike circuit.
Julius Johnson (6-3, 200, Cocoa, FL/Melbourne, FL Florida Air Academy): AAU: None. Johnson is pretty much off the national radar because he doesn't play AAU basketball but the coaches at Florida, Texas, Florida, Georgetown and Kansas know him very well. He is a combo guard who averaged 28 points a game for Florida Air last year. He's a streaky shooter who can hit seven or eight deep shots in a row and then miss the next 10. He gets to the rim and plays very physical defense. Texas has been recruiting him the longest. He's not a plan A for Florida but if the Gators lose out on Blakeney and Davis, he would become a priority, especially since he's best buds with Ted Kapita.
Haanif Cheatham (6-6, 185, Fort Lauderdale, FL Pembroke Pines Charter): AAU: Nike Team Florida. Cheatham has been impressive this summer for Nike Team Florida. He's playing on the wing although he's probably a natural point. He averaged 25 a game in high school and is knocking down 15.7 for a Nike Team Florida that has been disappointing this spring. Cheatham will come to the Florida camp hoping for an offer. He has offers from Alabama, USF, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Wake Forest, Purdue and VCU have all offered.
The state of Florida has never been as loaded with quality big guys as it is for 2016. Johnny Mooney is already committed to the Gators and there are at least five other quality bigs who could play at Florida's level. As it stands right now, Florida should be looking to recruit four players for the recruiting class of 2016.
Johnny Mooney (6-9, 235, Altamonte Springs, FL Lake Brantley): AAU: Nike Team Florida. Committed to the Gators last year. Playing on the 16-year-old circuit with Nike Team Florida, which could win the national championship. He had a 40-point, 24-rebound game for Lake Brantley last fall. He's grown more than an inch (almost 6-10 now) and put on 20 pounds since last year. Strong with good hands. He's got a serious upside because of his size and high basketball IQ.
Udoka Azubuike (6-11, 255, Lagos, Nigeria/Jacksonville, FL Potters House Christian): AAU: Nike Team Florida. Averaging 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds through 12 EYBL games on the Nike circuit but was impressive at the Boo Williams event in Hampton last weekend when he scored 65 points and grabbed 33 rebounds in four games. He just turned 15 years old. A native of Nigeria, he is already drawing favorable comparisons to a young Hakeem Olajuwan. Built like King Kong and yet he has never lifted weights. Florida and Florida State were the first two schools to start recruiting him.
Juwan Durham (6-10, 190, Tampa, FL Tampa Prep): AAU: Team Breakdown. Ranked #23 nationally by Scout.com. This kid could be a lottery pick someday. He's 6-10 but handles the ball like a guard. He's a productive scorer on the inside with a nice jumper that continues to get better. Volume shot blocker. He's way too skinny but he has a good frame and a serious work ethic. Florida is the early leader largely because of academics. Louisville, Georgia Tech and Indiana are also right there with USF trying to make a hometown push.
Dewan Huell (6-9, 205, Miami, FL Norland): AAU: Team Breakdown. He is best buds with Durham and while they would love to play college ball together it's unlikely. Florida has offered as has Louisville, but he's probably going to stay home and play at Miami.
Gracin Bakumanya (7-1, 235, Brazzaville, Congo/Gainesville, FL The Rock School): AAU: Nike Team Florida. He has scary good potential. He's already a volume shot blocker and a quick learner who coaches only have to tell one time. Was at Montverde last year but has transferred to The Rock where he will be very closely followed by the Florida staff. He's best friends with Ted Kapita and if the Gators land Kapita, Bakumanya will probably make UF his favorite.
Troy Baxter (6-8, 190, Tallahassee, FL/Gainesville, FL The Rock School): AAU: Nike Team Florida. Ranked #49 nationally by Scout.com. He's got serious hops and a streaky perimeter game. He's not a good enough ball handler to play on the perimeter although he can certainly shoot out there. Needs to add 25 pounds of muscle to play the high post in college. His athleticism is off the charts.
Malik Monk (6-4, 185, Lepanto, AR East Poinsett County): AAU: Arkansas Wings. Ranked #9 nationally by Scout.com. He's athletic enough to play all three positions on the perimeter. Tearing it up on the 17-year-old Nike circuit for Arkansas Wings where he is averaging 21.2 points per game. It's a 3-team race with Florida, LSU and Arkansas the players. The relationship with John Pelphrey has Florida in the lead.
Josh Langford (6-5, 200, Madison, AL Madison County): AAU: Atlanta Celtics. Ranked #15 nationally by Scout.com. Averaged 24 points a game in high school and was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama. Florida is in a top four that includes Alabama, Auburn and Duke. It's going to be very hard to get him to leave the state.
Christian Carlyle (6-4, 190, Jacksonville, FL Bishop Kenny): AAU: Nike Team Florida. He's a bit off the radar now, but that won't last long. He's got serious hops and is a big time scorer who is a highlight reel dunker. Florida, Florida State, UCF and USF are the early contenders.
Eric Hester (6-4, 175, Clearwater, FL/Oldsmar, FL Oldmar Christian): AAU: Team Breakdown. He's making the transition to the point, which is why Florida and Louisville are suddenly recruiting him heavily.
Dennis Smith Jr. (6-2, 175, Fayetteville, NC Trinity Christian): AAU: Team Loaded. Ranked #25 nationally by Scout.com. Averaging almost 20 per game on the adidas AAU circuit. He likes Florida a lot, but with Duke and North Carolina pushing hard, it's unlikely he will leave the state. Louisville and Arizona are also pushing hard.
Braxton Blackwell (6-7, 200, Nashville, TN Christ Presbyterian): AAU: Atlanta Celtics. Ranked #26 nationally by Scout.com. He could be the next Kyle Anderson because he's a point guard in a small forward's body. Florida and Butler actually lead home state schools Tennessee, Memphis and Vanderbilt.