VETTEL: More with Telep on Gator Basketball

In the second part of our visit with National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep we talk about the three players who have committed to the Florida for future recruiting classes. What are his thoughts on Mareese Speights, Nick Calathes and Gary Clark? And who might be the prime candidates to join Speights in the ‘06-07 freshman class of Gator basketball?

LV: Dave, let's look to the future of Gator basketball. Florida already has three public commitments from guys for future classes. We'll start with the '06 class at Mareese Speights from Admiral Farragut in St. Pete… a guy who's going to spend next year at Hargrave Military Academy.

DT: Speights is another big body and talking with Hargrave Coach Kevin Keats he really likes Speights for his size (6'10", 245) and his upside. Florida is clearly trying to upgrade the overall size of their front court and they did that with a guy like Speights.

LV: Florida has not been as physical as they need to be in some games. Do you think it's simply a case of Florida deciding to get some bodies, some projects to work with because you can't team someone to be big?

DT: I think that's certainly the case, I mean these guys (Sutton and Speights) have bona-fide size. When you bring in two guys back-to-back like this, that tells me Billy Donovan has some sort of a plan for the way he's going to use these guys.

LV: Now we go on to the two guys who will be juniors in high school this year. Nick Calathes is an interesting kid because his brother is 6'10" and Nick continues to grow. What do you think of him as a player?

DT: He has a great overall feel. He can really pass the basketball, make shots and he's very confident as a ball handler. He'll probably be a much bigger kid when he gets to college and I think he's brought in for the fact he can play a couple of positions.

LV: You know people talk about a position of point-forward. I that was Nick Calathes could evolve into since he's already 6'5" and there's good reason to expect him to get even bigger?

DT: He may wind up being a skilled two-guard, because of the growth spurt his brother went through late in his high school career. This could be a Dunleavy type situation (former Duke standout Mike) with his size. These guys are late bloomers with their size which makes it difficult to just pigeon hole Nick Calathes into one position at this time. He has two more high school seasons, so who knows what his game and his body might look like and what position he's destined for.

LV: I like that Dunleavy comparison. It was difficult to pigeon hole him because if you look at what position Dunleavy had at Duke… he just played.

DT: He was a shot maker. He made big shots in the NCAA Championship game against Arizona; he made big shots for three years at Duke. It was a late-developing type of family and Calathes may be from that type of family.

LV: Gary Clark is a kid from Sarasota Booker who, like Nick Calathes has committed two years in advance. What do you know about him?

DT: Honestly, I have not had a chance to see him play so what I know about him is from reputation. This is a guy who was actively pursued by the other Florida schools before he got out nationally. This is a kid who will probably end up being a top fifty or so national player.

LV: Are you surprised at all to see Florida taking so many guys this early?

DT: Not really. The State of Florida is getting extremely competitive for recruits. Florida State served itself well lately with a couple of commitments and Miami took Edwin Rios (Miami Sr.) who is also just a sophomore. Those schools are trying to protect their home turf and it's become an arms race. I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this in the years to come.

LV: Lets go back to next year's recruiting along with Speights, what would Florida most like to add to next year's class?

DT: The guy they really want, hands down the player they most want is Jevaris Crittendon. He's a 6'5" point guard out of Atlanta, Georgia and he's looking at Florida, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. They (the Gator staff) couldn't get more excited about any player out there than Jevaris.

LV: How hard will it be for Florida to get Crittendon out of town?

DT: It's going to be very hard, but the young man has been steadfast in saying he's going to take a very analytical approach to this. He told me the other day he's been watching a lot of film, so he must have done a lot of homework. Originally I thought this was a slam-dunk for Georgia Tech, but he likes the pace and the tempo and the way Florida's guards play.

LV: Talking about how you can't teach size, what about Jason Bennett, the seven-footer over in Jacksonville?

DT: I think the thing with Bennett is who is best suited to use him. He's a seven-foot one kid who I don't think is for everybody but I do think is a top 100 player. Style of play and how you use a big guy is crucial here so he has to make an informed decision. Right now he can change the game a little bit defensively and he's getting more and more aggressive each time out. But he's almost like an acquired taste in the center position because you have to commit to getting him some touches in a half court set.

LV: With Florida having gone out in the first two rounds the last five years, has the national view of Billy Donovan changed?

DT: I don't think it's changed if you look at what he's done and they still recruiting nationally. The lack of success in the NCAA Tournament is an obstacle that needs to be overcome, but Billy Donovan can still go into any area of the country and get the job done.

Dave Telep knows what he's talking about and has a very high opinion of where the Gator program and is Billy Donovan's ability to compete for the best players wherever they are. He's also obviously a tad hesitant about saying exactly what he expects from these down-the-line signees.

Truth is, a lot can change in the next year or two with regards to the guys who have committed to be part of future Florida classes. Until then, we'll just keep watching.

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