VETTEL: These Transfers Actually Make Sense

Billy Donovan has had more than his share of players leave before completing their eligibility at the University of Florida. Some have left for the NBA (or so they thought), others to get closer to home. Some players have left UF to earn more playing time while others wanted to escape to a less demanding situation either athletically or academically.

The latest Gators to move on ahead of schedule are Jimmie Sutton and David Huertas, both of whom are likely to see more time on the court in their new locations than they ever would have at UF.

Sutton was perhaps the most surprising recruit in Billy Donovan's ten years in Gainesville. I saw Jimmie as a junior in high school. While I was wowed by his physical gifts and ability to run and jump I was stunned by his lack of basketball skills. But you can't teach 6-10 with scary athletic ability and Florida figured him for a redshirt year anyway. Sutton may eventually develop the "game" to play at a high level of division one basketball but it will take some time.

Huertas was another player people questioned in terms of his ability to help the Gators. David is a "tweener" between small forward and shooting guard. The native of Puerto Rico also had language issues that would make it tough for him to progress as quickly as his abilities might allow. His time at UF will be remembered for solid contributions off the bench in three important Gator wins (at Ole Miss, at Kentucky, Villanova in the NCAA Tournament). Looking for the future, I'd recommend Huertas look into a Division II school in Miami or another Hispanic-oriented community as an ideal fit athletically, socially and academically. But no one asked me!

These Transfer Could Actually Help

While many of Florida's early departures appeared to hurt the team, these may actually prove to be beneficial. Florida has two more scholarships to work with at a time when you'd love to be able to capitalize on the National Championship. The Gators have four players signed for next year and could consider another. They already have three commitments for next year's recruiting class and will now look to add a pair of big men to that group.

Billy Donovan can now hit the road looking for a big guy to join the club with more opportunity for playing time. And let's face it; playing time often trumps such minor factors as great program, great fan support and great university.

How Big Is The Senior Class?

One thing complicating recruiting for the Gator head man is figuring out exactly how big his senior class is. Oh sure, on the surface the Gators have two seniors --- Chris Richard and Lee Humphrey --- but everyone knows that's not the entire story. Not by a long shot.

The entire basketball world was stunned that Florida's trio of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all turned down the chance to even audition for the NBA draft. Those three will be the focus of the college basketball season and unless something bizarre happens will again project to be high first round picks a year from now. Will all three turn down the pros again? If not will one or two or three of them make the jump? Try wooing the hottest big men in America when you can't answer that question. It ain't easy.

If none of them are seniors in Orange and Blue, the Gators have a huge need for at least two more front court players and ideally three. Chances are Mr. Donovan will find what he needs.

Remember all the talk before last season about how the Gators had lost 59 percent of its points and 40 percent of its rebounds? Those stats were sending shivers down Gator spines at this point of the off-season.

Well, next season's Gators will return 93 percent of the points, 90 percent of the rebounds, 94 percent of the assists and 97 percent of the blocked shots from last season's NCAA Champions. Florida will face a much more difficult non-conference schedule including probable games with Ohio State, Kansas, UAB, Florida State, Providence and Western Kentucky although the slate is yet to be completed. Last season's team took advantage of a weak non-conference schedule to gain experience and build confidence. Next season's squad needs as tough a slate as possible.

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