Up until this point Florida’s 2024 recruiting strategy has been to go after big names at the top of the recruiting rankings and much of their offers and energy has gone towards 5-stars that are well-established as top names in the class.
For the first time we are seeing the Gators trusting their evaluation abilities to get a jump on the recruiting services and opposing coaches, offering Orlando native Isaiah Brown.
When Florida offered Brown several weeks ago he was a three-star recruit, though he has since been bumped up to a four-star and is ranked 94th in the class of 2024. Clearly he isn’t a completely off the radar prospect as a top-100 player, but this is definitely a different type of player than what the Gators have offered recently. However, if you did want to classify him as a sleeper, you could look at his offer list. The Gators are really the only high major team to show major interest and his other offers are from the likes of Buffalo, Ohio, Florida Atlantic, and Florida Gulf Coast–and Brown recently mentioned that the schools recruiting him the hardest are Florida, Florida Atlantic, and Florida Gulf coast. It’s certainly interesting to see the kinds of schools that are recruiting him relative to his ranking, and that appears to be a sign of how times have changed completely when it comes to recruiting. High major teams are relying more on the portal than ever and aren’t as interested in recruiting kids that aren’t at the top of recruiting rankings, and you’re seeing players like Brown having offer lists that don’t look like what you’d expect.
Todd Golden has mentioned that he’s only really looking for high school players that he thinks can have an impact right away, so he likely does see Brown as a player that he thinks will be a lot better than his 94th rank right now and is investing early before he rises further and has more high-major teams approach him. Brown was recently in Gainesville for an unofficial visit and was able to receive the offer from Golden himself.
Brown is a 6’4” guard who plays at Orlando Christian Prep, so he’s nearby where the Gators can keep a close eye on him. Additionally, Golden has made recruiting Florida a priority so a top guard that’s playing in Orlando is certainly someone that he’s going to build a relationship with.
Known as a scorer, Brown’s tape is extremely fun to watch. He’s a methodical scorer off the bounce that can get defenders off balance with head fakes and changes of direction, and he’s got both a nice finishing package at the rim as well as a pretty steady jump shot. His ability to get into the paint and finish is probably his best skill right now and considering he stands at 6’4” and has excellent tough he’s scoring a ton in those areas.
The reason Brown isn’t ranked highly, at least at the moment, is that he’s a bit of a jack-of-all trades and those players can be tough to rank when compared with purely electric scorers or monster physical athletes. Brown is an excellent scorer but he does it with craft and skill, not straight speed. He finishes around the rim with great intelligence and tough, but not with pure explosiveness. That isn’t to say Brown isn’t athletic, because he is–but when you look at highly ranked wings it’s usually 6’7” explosive athletes or 6’2”, slippery, shot making phenoms–and Brown isn’t either of those things at the moment. However, that could be an inefficiency that the Gators are able to exploit as right now they are his highest profile offer and they could have a leg up if Brown continues to get better and shoot up the recruiting rankings.
A number of players on the roster are familiar to Brown as he played against Riley Kugel, Alex Fudge, and Denzel Aberdeen in various events around the state of Florida growing up. The immediate success of Kugel coming from Orlando will also help Florida’s staff contextualize what Brown is doing in that league and will be a key evaluation tool.
The timeline for a decision from Brown is unknown but you’d have to think he is a long way away from making a commitment. You’d have to think he has a lot better offers coming than what he has now, and the Gators likely wouldn’t take his commitment in the near future either. If Brown is interested in committing at some point it will be interesting to see when the Gators would take that commitment with all the elite talent at the top of the rankings they’re currently after, but it’s also clear they have legitimate interest in Brown.
Isaiah Brown is certainly a name to keep an eye on for the Gators’ 2024 class.