Unofficial Basketball Board... July 23

Nick Marshall is just one of the big names that Billy Donovan and the Gators are recruiting right now.

If Billy Donovan were to shut down recruiting for the class of 2015 right now, he would have two very solid additions to the Florida basketball program in athletic big man Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 205, Live Oak, FL Suwannee County) and combo guard KeVaughn Allen (6-3, 190, North Little Rock, AR). But Donovan and his staff haven’t pulled back and at this point in time, figure the Gators will add one and possibly two more to the class.

Scholarships are tight. The Gators have 13 on scholarship for next season and only one senior – Michigan transfer Jon Horford who has only one year of eligibility – but some movement is expected on the roster that will open up a couple of spots. If they play to anything close to their potential, sophomores Chris Walker and Kasey Hill could bolt for the NBA after next season and until he proves his leg is healed, there will be plenty of speculation about redshirt junior Eli Carter, who missed all of last season while recovering from a broken leg suffered in February of 2013.

If only one scholarship is available, Donovan will likely go for a big man. If there are two, it could be two bigs or a big and another guard. No matter how many commit, if Jaylen Brown (6-7, 215, Marietta, GA Wheeler) tells Donovan he wants to be a Gator, Donovan will figure a way to get him on board.

The 2016 recruiting class could be an absolute blockbuster due to the abundance of outstanding big men

THE 2014-15 ROSTER

REDSHIRT SENIORS (2): Jon Horford (6-10, 250); * Billy Donovan III (6-2, 195)

* Non-scholarship letterman

SENIORS (1): * Jacob Kurtz (6-6, 210)

* Non-scholarship 3-year letterman

REDSHIRT JUNIORS (3): Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, 220); Eli Carter (6-2, 200); Alex Murphy (6-9, 220)

JUNIORS (2): Michael Frazier (6-4, 205); * DeVon Walker (6-6, 200);

* Will miss the 2014-15 season due to surgery for a torn ACL

REDSHIRT SOPHOMORES (2): Dillon Graham (6-4, 186); * John Egbunu (6-10, 255)

* Will sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules.

SOPHOMORES (2): Kasey Hill (6-1, 185); Chris Walker (6-10, 225)

FRESHMEN (4): Chris Chiozza (5-11, 165); Devin Robinson (6-9, 190); Brandone Francis (6-5, 215); * Zach Hodskins (6-2, 180)

* Non-scholarship



KeVaughn Allen (6-3, 190, North Little Rock, AR): Plays for Team Penny AAU and is ranked #92 nationally by He’s led his high school team to two straight state titles and got Team Penny within 3.8 seconds of the Nike Peach Jam title before a technical foul on a teammate gave the championship to New Jersey Playaz. He’s a combo guard presently who has benefitted from playing the point all spring and summer on the AAU circuit. At Peach Jam, Allen hit better than 53% from the field and 47.7% from the 3-point line. He figures to attain top 40 status when Scout re-ranks its players after the AAU season is complete.

Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 205, Live Oak, FL Suwannee County): Plays for Nike Team Florida on the AAU circuit. Defensively, Hayes has had an outstanding AAU season but his offensive game hasn’t come around as well as hoped. He is still an outstanding prospect, a player who figures to be in Gainesville four years so there is plenty of time for his overall game to refine. Hayes has added 20 pounds of muscle since last summer and his frame has capacity to add another 20-25 pounds without slowing him down a bit. He may have another inch of growth in him.



Ted Kapita (6-9, 225, Brazzaville, Congo/Huntington, WV Huntington Prep): Ranked #34 nationally by Made a surprise move by transferring from Florida Air in June and while Florida remains very much on his radar, he’s not the lock that some thought he was two months ago. Now Michigan State and Kansas have gotten into the mix and Texas will have a chance because the Longhorns are heavily recruiting former Florida Air teammate Julius Johnson, one of Kapita’s best friends.

Nick Marshall (6-11, 245, Lexington, TN): Plays AAU ball for Team Thad. Since he added 25 pounds of muscle, he’s gone from simply a volume shot blocker into an inside bruiser who can overpower people. He’s got a nice 15-foot jumper, good feet and understands the pick and roll, both offensively and defending. Got his Florida offer on Monday and apparently, the Gators are in great shape. Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Ole Miss are the competition. It helps that Chris Chiozza was an AAU teammate.

Tacko Fall (7-5, 260, Dakar, Senegal/Tavares, FL Liberty Christian): Plays AAU ball for Each 1 Teach 1. He came to Florida’s camp and was very impressive the way he moves his feet and how coachable he is. This is a very bright young man. You can’t teach tall. Xavier, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and California are recruiting him.

Noah Dickerson (6-8, 250, Atlanta, GA/Montverde, FL Montverde Academy): Plays AAU ball for Georgia Stars and is ranked #67 nationally by Dickerson was committed to Georgetown earlier but backed out. The Gators are very much in play here. Dickerson has been on the Florida campus at least a half dozen times and has a great relationship with the coaching staff. He says that Georgetown is still in the mix but Florida, Georgia and Alabama are very much in play. He’s strictly a power player who can score easily in the low blocks and he’s a strong position rebounder.

Jarrad Reuter (6-8, 240, Boston, MA/Wolfeboro, NH Brewster Academy): Plays AAU ball for New England Playaz. While this might seem like a long shot, he likes Florida and the Florida coaches like him. He’s an absolute brute in the paint, maybe as physical as any player in the country. For him to leave New England where UConn, Boston College and Providence are making a push Florida will have to come on strong and right now the Gators have others who are higher priorities.


Antonio Blakeney (6-4, 180, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge): Plays AAU ball for Each 1 Teach 1 and is ranked #20 nationally by He’s got a Kentucky offer but Louisville has been there all along. Florida is still on his list and he talks well of Donovan and the Gators but it’s hard to imagine him going anywhere but Kentucky or Louisville at this point.

Jaylen Brown (6-7, 215, Marietta, GA Wheeler): Plays AAU ball for Atlanta Celtics and is ranked #4 nationally by He is a hybrid wing/high post with quickness and power going to the rim and 3-point ranger on his jumper. Kentucky has made him a priority recruit. Florida has a chance, albeit slim, because Billy Donovan coached Brown on Team USA at the FIBA Americas and there is a solid relationship. Kansas has also made Brown a priority recruit.

Isaiah Briscoe (6-3, 200, Union, NJ Roselle Catholic): Plays AAU ball for New Jersey Playaz and is ranked #16 nationally by Not a pure shooter, but a big time scorer who can get his points any number of ways including at the foul line because he’s adept at drawing contact. Led the Playaz to the Nike Peach Jam title. You won’t find Florida on the official list, but the Gators are still in it for him – perhaps more than anyone expects – because of the relationship forged with Donovan during the summer on Team USA.

Brandon Ingram (6-8, 190, Kinston, NC): Plays AAU ball for Stackhouse Elite and is ranked #26 nationally by He’s the best ball player to come out of Kinston since Jerry Stackhouse, who is his AAU coach. Because it’s Stackhouse, figure when North Carolina elects to make the big push, the Tar Heels will get the first consideration. Duke and North Carolina State are also after him. He’s got a Florida offer, but he’s probably the longest of long shots to leave Tobacco Road.

Donovan Mitchell (6-3, 180, New York, NY/Wolfeboro, NH Brewster Academy): Plays AAU ball for The City. Since June, he might be the fastest rising point guard in the country. He just finished a wowser of a tournament at Under Armour in Atlanta last weekend. When he wasn’t hitting the open man he was dunking in transition, which had a lot of schools scrambling to offer him a scholarship. Florida has been in on Mitchell for months and was one of the first big time programs to offer. The Gators are in good shape here but figure the advantage will go to UConn. Louisville is also very strong. Kansas and Kentucky got in late.

LeGerald Vick (6-4, 180, Memphis, TN Douglass): Plays AAU ball for Team Thad. He wasn’t well known before the summer, but he changed that with outstanding play on the AAU circuit. He’s long, quick and a strong leaper who excels on the defensive end and in transition. An extraordinary press defender who has no problems guarding players 3-4 inches taller, he’s a good fit for the Billy Donovan system. He’s from the same AAU program that sent Chris Chiozza to Florida.

PREDICTION FOR 2015: In addition to Hayes and Allen, the Gators land either Kapita or Marshall and Vick.

* * *

With four scholarships likely available – possibly five – for 2016, the Gators will have a chance to reload on both the perimeter and the post. It’s a banner year for bigs in the state and the Gators are very pleased with longstanding commit John Mooney (6-9, 235, Altamonte Springs, Lake Brantley). Overall, it’s an outstanding year for talent in the state of Florida, whether homegrown or at the prep schools, so most of the recruits could be high school grads from in-state.

There are two out-of-state players in this class that the Gators will find a place for no matter how many commits they have – Malik Monk (6-4, 180, Bentonville, AR) and Jayson Tatum (6-8, 190, St. Louis, MO Chaminade Prep).



John Mooney (6-9, 235, Altamonte Springs, FL Lake Brantley): Plays AAU ball for Nike Team Florida 16-and-under. He’s just getting back into shape after appendicitis cost him the month of July. Mooney wowed everyone back in January with a 40-point, 20-rebound high school game. He has added 20 pounds and grown an inch without sacrificing mobility or quickness since he committed to the Gators last year. He’s not afraid to bang, plays excellent position defense and his basketball IQ is off the charts. With two more years of high school ball and another year of AAU, he’s only going to get better.


Udoka Azubuike (6-11, 245, Lagos, Nigeria/Jacksonville, FL Potters House Christian): Played AAU ball for Nike Team Florida and ranked #11 nationally by He only got better as the AAU season progressed. He’s just 15 (that’s what his passport says) and already built like a man. He’s a pure power prospect who can run and move his feet. He’s very coachable. Florida and Florida State were the first to recruit him and they’re going to be the teams to beat although Duke, Kansas and Kentucky have all offered.

Juwan Durham (6-10, 195, Tampa, FL Tampa Prep): Played AAU ball for Team Breakdown and ranked #19 nationally by He’s gifted athletically, can run the floor and has a fundamentally sound jumper good out to 18 feet. He also has terrific grades. Florida, FSU, Indiana and Louisville have been on him for awhile but South Florida has made him a priority recruit. Florida probably has the first right of refusal.

Dewan Huell (6-9, 200, Miami, FL Norland): Played AAU ball for Team Breakdown and ranked #23 nationally by He had a great camp at Florida. He runs the floor well, is a terrific rebounder and a very good defender. He’s a priority recruit for Miami but Florida has a very good chance. Louisville, FSU, South Florida, South Carolina and Indiana are also making a strong case.

Tony Bradley (6-10, 236, Bartow, FL): Played AAU ball for Southern Stampede and ranked #57 nationally by He impressed the Florida coaches at the team camp with his hustle and hard work. He’s a work in progress but he’s got a tremendous upside and great physical presence. In addition to the Gators, Alabama, Auburn, FSU, California, USF and UCF are working him hard.

Justin Jackson (6-7, 215, Scarborough, Ontario/Henderson, NV Findlay Prep): Rated the #33 player nationally by He may reclassify to 2015. He’s got an NBA-ready body and tremendous athleticism. About the only criticism is his inconsistency from the 3-point line. He’s already narrowed the choices to Arizona, Florida, Baylor, Louisville and Indiana.

Omari Spellman (6-9, 270, North Royalton, OH): Plays AAU basketball for Team Scan and is ranked #18 nationally by He is a space eater in the low blocks who has very nice hands and knows how to score. This guy is an absolute brute around the rim. He says getting the Florida offer was big for both him and his mom. Florida, Indiana, Dayton, Cincinnati and Villanova are all right there. He’s taken unofficials to UCLA, UNLV, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Nick Rakocevic (6-10, 200, Westchester, IL St. Joseph): Plays AAU ball for Mac Irvin Fire and is ranked #54 nationally by He’s a stretch four who has really nice fundamentals to go with a sweet looking jumper to about 17-18 feet. After a good spring on the AAU circuit, he picked up a lot of interest from the Florida staff. Wisconsin is the team to beat right now with Illinois, Xavier, Indiana and Iowa all making regular recruiting calls to his house.


Malik Monk (6-4, 180, Bentonville, AR): Plays AAU ball for Arkansas Wings and is ranked #5 nationally by He’s so gifted offensively that there is a lot of speculation that he’ll be a one-and-done. It’s pretty much an Arkansas-Florida battle with the Razorbacks holding the advantage. Any chance Florida has is because older brother Marcus Monk, a former Arkansas wide receiver, was a walk-on for John Pelphrey when he was the Razorbacks’ basketball coach and they have an ongoing friendship.

Braxton Blackwell (6-7, 225, Nashville, TN Christ Presbyterian): Plays AAU ball for Atlanta Celtics and is ranked #41 nationally by He’s a do-it-all hybrid point forward type with excellent fundamentals. He sees the floor and passes as well as any non-point guard in the class. The only knock on his game is his inconsistent jump shot. He and his dad love Billy Donovan. Providence made a good impression but this is going to come down to Florida, Butler and Louisville.

Jayson Tatum (6-8, 190, St. Louis, MO Chaminade Prep): Plays AAU ball for St. Louis Eagles and is ranked #1 nationally by Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville and Duke have made him a priority. Florida is thought to be a long shot, but the Gators benefit from the fact that Brad Beal and David Lee both came to UF from the same high school and AAU program. If Florida has any chance that’s it.

Eric Hester (6-4, 180, Fort Lauderdale, FL/Oldsmar, FL Oldsmar Christian): Plays AAU ball for Team Breakdown. His stock soared when he moved from the wing to the point on the AAU circuit. He made a tremendous impression at Florida’s individual skills camp in early June. Florida, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, USF and Ole Miss are the schools that are on his immediate radar.

Derryk Thornton (6-1, 175, Chatsworth, CA/Henderson, NV Findlay Prep): Ranked #8 nationally by He’s a terrific floor leader who is outstanding in transition. His best asset is his ability to command a team and get everyone involved offensively. He lists Florida among his top six or seven teams but the Gators trail Arizona, Kentucky and Louisville.

Lamonte Turner (6-1, 175, Huntsville, AL/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day): Plays AAU ball for MBA. He’s a highly underrated point whose calling card is speed and quickness. He’s been on the UF campus a bunch of times with good bud Brandone Francis and called the Gators his leader back on Memorial Day. Auburn, Alabama, South Carolina, Miami and Wichita State are also recruiting him hard.

Josh Langford (6-5, 200, Madison, AL): Plays AAU ball for Atlanta Celtics and is ranked #17 nationally by He’s a slasher who knows how to draw contact and finish. He’s a steady ball handler and a fundamentally sound defender who is good in the half court and in the press. He lists Florida among his top teams but he’s a priority recruit for both Bruce Pearl at Auburn and Anthony Grant at Alabama.

Mario Kegler (6-7, 218, Jackson, MS/Jacksonville, FL Arlington Country Day): Plays AAU ball for MBA and is ranked #32 nationally by He’s got an NBA-ready body and a lethal 3-ball in transition. Duke, Kentucky and Ohio State have been the early talk, but Florida has sneaked in thanks to AAU teammate Lamonte Turner. Kegler will be on campus a lot during the season so the Gators have a year to make a serious impression.

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