Jaylen Brown: This is a kid whose game has Florida written all over it. Brown (6-6, 220, Marietta, GA Wheeler) is ranked the #9 ranked prospect overall and #1 small forward by Scout.com. He's got a man's body, in part due to a boxer's training regimen, superior quickness and a team-first game. He averaged 19.6 points in his seven games over the weekend and hit an impressive 44% from the 3-point line. As impressive as he was on the offensive end, he was ferocious playing defense. He's 6-6 but will challenge anyone and he showed that he's quick enough to defend point guards, which was a bit surprising. In Billy Donovan's system, he would be a pit bull in the half court game and would play the point in the press. He gushes about Florida, Kentucky and Ohio State. He doesn't have a Kentucky offer yet, however, which seems a bit odd. This is a guy that Florida very definitely needs to bring into the 2015 recruiting class.
Braxton Blackwell: Blackwell (6-7, 200, Nashville, TN Christ Presbyterian) is the 2016 version of the Swiss Army Knife. He can do everything. Rated #26 overall by Scout.com, Blackwell is expected to be transferring to Montverde Academy to play for Kevin Boyle. He's an extraordinary passer, mechanically sound shooter, good ball handler and capable of defending four positions. He's got a long list of offers, but the two who seem to stand out the most based on his comments are Florida and Indiana. Because he's grown up in the heart of SEC territory (next three SEC Tournaments are going to be in Nashville), Florida stands a good chance to land him.
KEGLER TO ARLINGTON COUNTRY DAY: The decision by Mario Kegler (6-7, 220, Jackson, MS/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day) to transfer in to Arlington Country Day is one that could pay off for the Gators. Ranked #27 nationally by Scout.com for 2016, Kegler is a big time scorer who already has an NBA body. He has offers from Texas, Ohio State, UNLV and Arizona already, plus he's hearing from Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. If he were to stay in Mississippi, the Gators would probably have zero chance to land him, but the relationship between the Florida staff and ACD coach Rex Morgan is solid. It will also help that point guard Lamonte Turner (6-2, 175, Harvest, AL/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day) is being recruited by the Gators. What that spells is trips to Gainesville that will expose Kegler to Donovan, the Gators and the O-Dome on game nights. Kegler is quick enough off the bounce to blow by defenders on the wing, strong enough to finish at the rim and he's a very good 3-point shooter in transition.
GATORS MAKE THE CUT FOR Cameron Walker: Although Jaylen Brown continues to be Florida's top target at small forward for 2015, the Gators are very much in it for Cameron Walker (6-7, 200, Santa Maria, CA Ernest Righetti). Ranked #87 nationally and the #15 small forward prospect by Scout.com, Walker told Scout.com's Brian Snow, "I am down to a final eight of UCLA, Florida, Harvard, San Diego State, Stanford, California, Arizona State and Colorado. I narrowed it down and those are the schools that are recruiting me the hardest." What makes Walker such an intriguing prospect is his ability to handle the ball. He's like Dorian Finney-Smith in that he can fill in at the point for a few minutes of the time as he's proven on the adidas circuit with Compton Magic. Walker is going to put the ball in the basket. In Orlando he did most of his damage on the inside but he showed a really nice outside stroke when he went 3-6 from the 3-point line against Kansas Pray ‘n Play. He also had a nice 13 point/11-rebound game against Indy Elite. If there is a knock on him it's that he takes plays off at the defensive end. He is expected to take a Florida visit and word was Sunday that California and Florida are probably neck and neck.
ON THE FLORIDA RADAR FOR 2016: There might not be anyone quicker than Florida Elite point guard Keon Clergeot (6-1, 170, Auburndale, FL). He's had a bit of contact with the Florida staff and is hoping to get an offer during his high school season (junior year). He's got serious elevation and has that rare ability to square his shoulders to the basket while in the air ... Lamonte Turner (6-2, 175, Harvest, AL/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day) does claim a Florida offer. He's also got Alabama and Auburn hot after him and he's an Alabama native.
SCARY GOOD: That's the only way to describe Thon Maker (7-0, 200, Sydney, Australia/Martinsville, VA Carlisle School), rated the #3 prospect in the 2016 class by Scout.com. He runs the floor, handles the ball like a guard, shoots the baby hook on the inside with either hand, has jump shot range to the 3-point line, finds the open man with the pass and plays good defense. The only knock on him is that he seriously needs to gain some weight.
There is a real possibility that he will reclassify to 2015, but guardian Ed Smith told Scout.com's Evan Daniels that will depend on how much weight he can gain in the next 8-9 months. Smith said that Maker will need to be 220-225 pounds to make the jump, otherwise there will be one more year at the high school level. There is also the issue of academics but that seems less likely to be an impediment than the strength and weight issues.
When asked who's recruiting him, Maker replied "everybody." He wasn't being boastful. That's just a fact. Florida has made the effort and he definitely knows plenty about the Gators and likes Billy Donovan, but that isn't to say Florida has much of a chance, largely because the odds are highly against Maker taking an official visit, not when he's got Duke, North Carolina and Virginia all close by, plus Kentucky and Kansas very hot on his trail.
ADEL WILL GO WHERE HIS COACH TELLS HIM TO GO: Deng Adel (6-7, 187, Melbourne, Australia/Bradenton, FL Victory Rock Christian) is a seriously talented kid who simply loves to play at both ends of the court. He doesn't take plays off and seems to have a never-ending supply of energy. There is no question that he likes the University of Florida and Billy Donovan. There is also no question that the only way he becomes a Gator is if his coach, Loren Jackson, steers him to UF. Jackson is the former coach of the Mean Streets AAU program out of Chicago where Anthony Davis was one of his players. He was also the AAU coach for Mangok Mathiang, another of the kids from Sudan whose families immigrated to Australia to escape the war and persecution. Adel and Mathiang are best friends and it's not a coincidence that Loren Jackson is in charge of their recruiting. Jackson is a very likeable guy and he has nothing against Billy, just has Rick Pitino higher on his priority list. He very definitely would like to see Adel with Mathiang at Louisville. Adel is currently unranked by Scout.com but that will change the next time the rankings are updated.
NAMES AND NOTES: Don't be surprised if Kevin Boyle pulls off a serious trifecta for Montverde Academy in the next couple of weeks. He's expected to land 2016 point guard Dennis Smith (6-2, 173, Fayetteville, NC Trinity Christian Academy), 2018 phenom E.J. Montgomery (6-9, 200, Fort Pierce, FL Lincoln Park Academy) and Blackwell, all of whom were playing at the Orlando event. Montverde has won the last two high school national championships and will be favored to make it three in a row with a lineup that includes LSU commit Ben Simmons (6-9, 230, Melbourne, Australia/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy) and Georgetown commit Noah Dickerson (6-8, 255, Atlanta, GA/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy) ... As good as Smith is, maybe the best point guard among the 2016s at the adidas Orlando event was Kobi Simmons (6-5, 175, Alpharetta, GA St. Francis), who plays for the Atlanta Celtics and averaged 16.8 points per game. There were some onlookers who weren't sold on Smith as a team-first guy. Simmons busted his butt on defense and gave the ball up when he got in the lane ... Florida is not recruiting Jordan Murphy (6-7, 220, San Antonio, TX Brennen) at this point and it's doubtful the Gators will get involved, but he grew up loving UF and follows them religiously. He averaged 27 a game last year in high school and is a do-it-all type who can play three positions and defend four. He's playing for Texas D1 Ambassadors. Creighton, Baylor, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are currently recruiting him hard ... The most consistent low post presence at the adidas event was Chase Jeter (6-11, 225, Las Vegas, NV Bishop Gorman), who plays for DreamVision. He averaged 15 points and 12.2 rebounds in five games. He's got an almost unblockable baby hook that he sets up by sticking his shoulder in the chest of a defender. He had a monster, 27-point/12-rebound performance against D1 Minnesota and followed that up with an impressive 20 and 13 against Colorado Hawks. Duke, UNLV, Arizona and UConn top his impressive list ... Another name to remember for 2016 is Solomon Young (6-6, 220, Sacramento, CA Sacramento Charter), a young bull of a power forward who is still growing. In the absence of Jeter in DreamVision's final game Sunday, Young lit up the Michigan Mustangs for 23 points and 12 rebounds, hitting 10-15 of his shots overall including 2-3 from the 3-point line. His mom is 6-2 and his dad is the runt of his family at 6-3. Most of his uncles are 6-8 or better and his mom says he's still growing taller. All the west coast schools are after him but his mom said he will go east if that's where he finds the right fit.