Aly Khalifa Down To Final Two Schools, Set To Visit Gainesville

After landing a physical 6’8” forward in Yale’s EJ Jarvis and a 7’1” shot blocker and rebounder in Marshall’s Micah Handlogten the Gators are potentially looking for a little bit more offensive juice with one of their remaining frontcourt targets–Charlotte’s Aly Khalifa.


Khalifa, a native of Alexandria, Egypt, just finished his sophomore season at Charlotte where the 49ers had a hot end to their season. After ending their Conference USA season on a three-game losing streak they went to the CBI (the third tier postseason tournament after the NCAA Tournament and NIT) and went on a run, ultimately winning the event taking down Eastern Kentucky in the finals. 


One of the central figures of Charlotte’s offense was Khalifa, a playmaking center who touched the ball on most offensive possessions. Khalifa averaged 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, impacting the game in a number of ways. Versatility is the name of the game for Khalifa who is able to be an offensive initiator or a primary scorer, and someone who can get it down on the low block or stretch things out to beyond the arc. Standing at 6’11” and weighing 235 pounds he’s got projectable size to the SEC level, and the skills he shows at that size suggest the chance at a lengthy pro career once his time in college is finished.


As a post up player, Khalifa is someone who uses length, intelligence, and touch to score. After catching the ball he’s patient waiting for the defense to show their hand, and he’s more than willing to pass out of a double team when he sees an open shooter. If defenses allow him to go one on one, he’ll get to the front of the rim and drop a soft hook shot through the rim. His ability to score in the post often attracts a lot of defensive attention, and it often seems like Khalifa gets more enjoyment for finding an open teammate than he does trying to score on his own. Khalifa finished the season 300th in the country in assist rate–a very good ranking for a center that speaks to his passing and playmaking ability. 


Here’s where things get even more interesting for Khalifa.

When he’s not catching the ball on the block and being a fulcrum for the offense, he’s adept at stepping out behind the three-point line and being a catch and shoot threat. Taking just under four three-point attempts per game last season (tons of volume for a center) he hit 38%, making him one of the most effective stretch fives in the country last season. Todd Golden desperately wanted his centers to be able to shoot the three last season, something that didn’t materialize whatsoever, so he would love having a “5” that could hit the deep ball. 


Of course, the Gators have already landed a center in Micah Handlogten, as well as a post player in EJ Jarvis. While that might make the frontcourt seem crowded for someone like Khalifa, that isn’t the case. His versatility offensively means that if he’s playing next to Handlogten he could step out beyond the three-point line and handle the ball, or if he’s playing next to Jarvis he could be the interior threat big enough to score on the monsters of the SEC.


It’s reported that Khalifa is between Florida and BYU, and the Gators will have their opportunity to make their final case this upcoming weekend when Khalifa will visit Gainesville.


An added storyline to the Khalifa recruitment is that the Gators are also heavily involved with Seton Hall transfer Tyrese Samuel who is almost the antithesis to Khalifa. Khalifa is the skilled, shooting, offensive-minded center with multiple years of eligibility, while Samuel is a graduate transfer who is defensive-minded and physical.

It will be interesting to see who the Gators value more between these two targets, and we might get the answer soon with both recruitments set to wrap up quickly. 

Eric Fawcett
Eric is a basketball coach and writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His work has been found at NBA international properties, ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @ericfawcett_.