Billy Donovan is off to Colorado Springs, where he will be putting the roster together for the FIBA Americas 18-and-Under Championships June 20-24, featuring teams from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Uruguay. Donovan was in Gainesville over the weekend for the individual camp at the University of Florida and the beginning of the Little Gator Camp, but won't be back in time for the team camp that runs from June 20-22.
Donovan coached Bradley Beal and Team USA to the 2012 gold medal at the FIBA 18-and-unders in Argentina, and last year coached Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA 19-and-Under World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. Donovan is considered the likely successor to Duke coach Mike Kryzyzewski for the US Olympic team. Coach K will be Team USA's coach in 2016 but Donovan seems being groomed to take over for 2020.
All of Florida's current scholarship players are currently on campus for Summer A. They will be joined for Summer B by incoming freshman Devin Robinson, Brandone Francis, Chris Chiozza and Zach Hodskins. Here is an update on Florida's roster players for the 2014-15 season.
Chris Walker has put on positive weight. He's a pound or two above the 225 level now and is expected to put on another 5-10 pounds of muscle this summer. He has been looking beastly in pickup games.
From a confidence standpoint, it's night and day difference for Kasey Hill. The combination of injuries which set him back early on and a naturally humble attitude that caused him to defer to senior Scottie Wilbekin set Hill back last year. The confidence is returning and it's showing in the way he plays and in his outside shot.
Eli Carter continues to get into good playing shape. He's at or near 90% right now and should be able to participate at 100% by late July or early August. He's lost some of the weight he gained while his leg was healing.
Michael Frazier is 205 now (up six pounds) and continues to work on putting the ball on the floor so he can create his own shot. Frazier will be on campus all summer, working to take his game to the next level.
DeVon Walker has added about five pounds of muscle and is a solid 200 now (came to UF at 180). It's important for him to get some consistency in his jumper over the summer. He will again play all three perimeter positions.
Trainers believe Dillon Graham (surgery for a torn labrum in both hips) will be cleared to go full speed in August. He's ahead of schedule on rehab. He will be expected to get work at the point and the wing in the fall.
Dorian Finney-Smith has gained about eight pounds and is just above 220. He's hoping to add another five pounds of upper body muscle this summer. Finishing around the basket is his chief focus this summer. Goal number two is regain some consistency with his jump shot.
South Florida transfer John Egbunu has the option to ask the NCAA for a waiver that will allow him to play but that is a decision that still hasn't been made. Egbunu is comfortable with the idea that he will sit and learn the system, get stronger, etc.
Duke transfer Alex Murphy is athletic enough that he will play on the wing as well as the high post. He doesn't have the range that brother Erik had with his jumper, but he's an excellent midrange shooter and he's probably a more consistent scorer on the inside. He has petitioned the NCAA to be able to play immediately.
No one is expecting Michigan transfer Jon Horford to suddenly become a go to guy offensively after three years in Ann Arbor where he averaged 2.9 points and 2.9 rebounds (3.8 points and 4.1 rebounds last season) for his career, but he might be a surprise thanks to a change of scenery. In Michigan's hybrid of the Princeton offense, Horford was never go to thrive. At Florida, he will be playing mostly in the low blocks where he's already showing some nice moves and the ability to put the ball in the basket.
Billy Donovan III will again be a walk-on and that's a plus because he's an excellent practice player who is invaluable leading the scout team in preparation. His bum shoulder (he didn't have surgery last year) has nearly healed and he's feeling much better. He's hoping to break into coaching following his senior season.
Walkon Jacob Kurtz will also be back for his senior season. It will be an important summer for Kurtz, who might have to play a lot in November if Alex Murphy's petition to play without sitting out the fall semester is denied.
Centers (3): Chris Walker (6-10, 225, SO); Jon Horford (6-10, 250, RSR); * John Egbunu (6-10, 255, RFR)
* Egbunu expected to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules.
Power Forwards (3): Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, 220, RJR); * Alex Murphy (6-9, 230, RJR); * * Jacob Kurtz (6-6, 215, SR)?
* Eligible second semester but has appealed for waiver to play immediately.?
* * Walkon
Small Forwards (3): DeVon Walker (6-6, 200, JR); Devin Robinson (6-9, 200, FR); Brandone Francis (6-5, 215, FR)?
Shooting Guards (4): Michael Frazier II (6-4, 205, JR); Eli Carter (6-2, 195, RJR); Dillon Graham (6-4, 190, RSO); * Zach Hodskins (6-4, 200, FR)?
Point Guards (2): Kasey Hill (6-1, 181, SO); Chris Chiozza (5-10, 155, FR)
This is going to be a case of more kids wanting to be Gators than there are openings. The Gators will have 13 on scholarship in the fall with Horford the only senior but both Chris Walker and Kasey Hill could leave early for the NBA if they have the seasons that are expected. Dorian Finney-Smith will graduate next May so he will have the option of moving on to play professional basketball or coming back for his senior season. Eli Carter will have options, also, mostly driven by health issues. If he is back to the Carter that averaged 15 points per game before the broken leg at Rutgers, he could move on to professional basketball or come back for his senior season. If the health issues persist, he may choose to move on from basketball. Like Finney-Smith he will graduate next May. Also, incoming freshman Devin Robinson made such strides during his senior season at Christchurch School in Virginia that he's thought to be a potential one-and-done.
The Gators already have two commitments – Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 205, Live Oak, FL Suwannee County) and KeVaughn Allen (6-2, 170, North Little Rock, AR) – which means there has to be some movement on the roster to accommodate two, but the Florida staff would be willing to sign a third player player for 2015 if it were the right player.
The top target is Ted Kapita (6-9, 225, Brazzaville, Congo/Melbourne, FL Florida Air Academy), who was at the skills camp this weekend. Kapita doesn't show up on the national radar as he should because he doesn't play AAU basketball, but he's very comfortable at Florida and has visited many times due to his friendship with former Gator Will Yeguete, who came to UF from Florida Air. Kansas and Texas both like Kapita, too, but it is thought that this not a case of if he will be a Gator but when.
A surprise at the camp was Elhadji Serigne Tacko Diop Fall (7-5, 250, Dakar, Senegal/Tavares, FL Liberty Christian Prep), known by Tacko. His skill level was beyond what was expected and he showed the ability to absorb a concept and put it into action. He has an 8-foot wingspan, wears a size 22 shoe and he's still growing. He can dunk without jumping. You cannot teach tall.
If Kapita and Fall would commit, the Gators would shut down recruiting for 2015 with one exception – if Jaylen Brown (6-6, 220, Marietta, GA Wheeler) decides he wants to be a Gator, accommodations will be made. In most conversations, the first two names mentioned by Brown are Florida and Kentucky in no consistent order. He will be playing for Donovan this summer with Team USA at the FIBA Americas 18-and-Under Championships in Colorado Springs. Brown has an NBA ready body and one-and-done talent. Brown is rated #4 nationally by Scout.com.
Other 2015 possibilities:
Brandon Ingram (6-8, 180, Kinston, NC) and Deng Adel (6-7, 190, Melbourne, Australia/Bradenton, FL Victory Rock Christian) continue to factor in Florida's recruiting for the 2015 class but it is going to be difficult to squeeze them in. Of the two, there is a greater chance to land Adel since it seems a distinct possibility that he will extend his recruiting into the spring. Adel's high school coach, Loren Jackson, will be the key figure in his recruitment and Jackson says there is no hurry to make a commitment. Adel went from unranked to #18 nationally in Scout.com's most recent rankings. Ingram, who is the #26 player in the country, probably won't leave the state since he has offers from North Carolina's big four – UNC, Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina State – and his AAU coach and mentor (Jerry Schackleford) is a former UNC All-America.
It will be interesting to see what happens next with Antonio Blakeney (6-4, 175, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge). He's still considered a priority recruit for UF, but it seems more and more likely that he's going to wind up out of state. If he were to suddenly shift his focus to Florida, the UF staff might start trying to figure out a way to accommodate him. Blakeney is now rated #20 nationally by Scout.com.
Billy Donovan will almost certainly be looking to sign four for 2016, but there is a real possibility that he could be looking to sign six. Donovan already has one commitment -- John Mooney (6-9, 235, Altamonte Springs, FL Lake Brantley) – who had a very impressive camp this weekend. With two more years of high school basketball and one more year of AAU ball before he comes to Gainesville, Mooney is expected to be a polished, ready to go player the day he arrives.
Florida is also heavily recruiting AAU teammates Juwan Durham (6-10, 190, Tampa, FL Tampa Prep) and Dewan Huell (6-9, 190, Miami, FL Norland). Durham is rated #5 nationally for 2016 by Scout.com while Huell is rated #10. Huell was at the Florida camp this weekend and had a very impressive showing. Durham has had Florida as his leader for some time now.
The Gators are also heavily involved with a pair of local kids from The Rock – Troy Baxter (6-8, 190, Tallahassee, FL/Gainesville, FL The Rock School) and Gracin Bakumanya (7-1, 235, Brazzaville, Congo/Gainesville, FL The Rock School. Baxter is a freak athlete who seems to jump out of the gym while Bakumanya is likely to go wherever best friend Ted Kapita goes. If Kapita is part of the Florida class in 2015, Florida will instantly become the favorite to land Bakumanya, who runs like a gazelle and has extraordinary athleticism. Baxter is rated #9 nationally by Scout.com. Baxter and Bakumanya are AAU teammates of Mooney for Nike Team Florida's 16-and-under team.
Currently, Florida and Florida State would be considered the frontrunners for Nigerian import Udoka Azubuike (6-11, 255, Lagos, Nigeria/Jacksonville, FL Potters House Christian). Azubuike, who will probably be a top five national recruit when Scout.com releases its latest 2016 rankings, is having an extraordinary summer with Nike Team Florida's 17-and-under team even though he just turned 15 years old. It seems unlikely that he will go anywhere but Florida or Florida State, which have both used NTF as a pipeline throughout the years.
Florida or Indiana seems to be the likely destination for combo forward Braxton Blackwell (6-7, 200, Nashville, TN Christ Presbyterian), who might be the best passer in the entire 2016 class regardless of position. He is expected to make a college decision next April or May, but he's in constant contact with the Florida staff.
The point guard of choice for 2016 seems to be Lamonte Turner (6-2, 175, Harvest, AL/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day), one of the quicker players in the class. He's exceptional getting into the lane and making the right decision. Turner could also influence AAU teammate Mario Kegler (6-7, 225, Jackson, MS/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day). They play together for the Mississippi-based MBA team and have bonded as close friends. Turner is constantly in Kegler's ear about Florida, where his best friend on the planet is incoming UF freshman Brandone Francis. As for Kegler, he's got an NBA body already and is the perfect hybrid wing/high post because he can rebound like a power forward and shoot all the way out to the 3-point line.
Two perimeter players to watch for 2016 are homegrown talents Eric Hester (6-4, 175, Clearwater, FL/Oldsmar, FL Oldsmar Christian) and Christian Carlyle (6-4, 190, Jacksonville, FL Bishop Kenny). Hester is playing the point for Team Breakdown, where he is teammates with Durham and Huell, but he's a good enough shooter to play the wing. Carlyle averaged nearly 20 points a game last year as a sophomore for Bishop Kenny. He is drawing favorable comparisons with Jacksonville product Grayson Allen, another high riser who will be a freshman at Duke this fall. Carlyle has the vertical to be a serious finisher around the rim and is a spectacular dunker in the open court. Carlyle is playing AAU ball for Nike Team Florida's 16-and-under team.