Every coach that makes the jump from mid to high major basketball has to answer the same questions that Mike White faced.
“Can he recruit?”
Many times when a coach makes this leap, its not the tactical side of coaching that fans question, its whether he can get elite talent to their program when previously he would be looking players of a lower caliber.
When Coach White first came to Florida, his first act of “recruiting” was to try and keep Billy Donovan’s final class together. He ended up keeping all but Noah Dickerson (currently at Washington), and the group that stayed have become incredibly valuable to the program. His late start in the recruiting cycle limited his effectiveness in the 2016 class, and the trio of 3-stars he brought in (Eric Hester, Dontay Bassett, and Gorjok Gak) didn’t exactly silence critics. This year’s class shows lots of promise, as White was able to bring in four great talents that were sought-after by teams across the country. But now, well established in Florida with an Elite Eight under their belts, the coaching staff is finally showing what they are capable of. Nabbing possibly the best passing point guard in 2018 Andrew Nembhard, and possibly the best 3-point shooting guard in Noah Locke, recruiting is on a serious upswing. Coach White, as well as assistants Darris Nichols, Dusty May, and Jordan Mincy have cemented themselves as a force on the recruiting trail, and they deserve plenty of recognition for their efforts.
And they aren’t done yet.
Let’s take a look at some of the targets that have been discussed as possible additions to Florida’s recruiting class in 2018.
6’0”, 180 lbs
Florida has never been the favorite for Lomax, but he put them in his top 6 and has never taken them off the table. Though his father stated that the leaders for him were “probably Wichita State and Ole Miss”, he hinted at how badly he wanted for him to play in the SEC. The fact that he has been noncommittal to either program and the SEC comment makes me think Florida is still involved, though not heavily. Obviously Florida has already landed a point guard in this class, but I don’t think it is as much a deterrent as you might think. The long-term plan for Okauru might be for him to play more combo and 2 guard, so minutes could still be available right away. Landing a backup point guard definitely isn’t the number one priority for the last open scholarship, but it shouldn’t be completely disregarded.
6’8”, 187 lbs
Moore has been one of Florida fan’s favorite targets for some time, and it’s not hard to see why. A rangy wing that can find his own shot, create offense for teammates and show great fight on the glass, he is the kind of player who is perfectly suited to modern basketball. A Georgia native, he has taken unofficial visits to Gainesville this past season and is said to have a great relationship with the coaching staff. With two guard signees already, a wing would be a great piece to add to the class. Florida is considered by many to be the slight favorite here, so he is definitely a player to keep an eye on.
6’5”, 190 lbs
You can’t talk about versatile wings without discussing Keyontae Johnson. Nicknamed “Mr. Everything” by his Oak Hill head coach, there is no aspect of the game he does not try to impact. Finishing powerfully at the rim, setting screens for his teammates, or pressing his man full court, Johnson does everything he can to help his team win. He recently named his final four teams, and the Gators were included with Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Texas Tech. Florida is favored heavily to get him, and if that were to be the case he would be an instant fan favorite. Championship winning teams need glue guys who would run through a wall for their teammates, and Johnson might just be that guy. Make sure to keep up with Keyontae Johnson as his decision looms.
6’8”, 200 lbs
Lehigh Acres, Florida
With two guards in the class, adding a frontcourt player would be a great compliment, and many people thought Emmitt Williams could be that guy. A 5-star bruiser who physically dominates opponents, anticipation that the Gators could land this in-state talent was high. That was until Emmitt Williams was arrested for sexual battery and imprisonment. Though a truly special basketball talent, I’m told Williams has been effectively taken off the board. Though no one knows what will come from this case, I wouldn’t anticipate involvement with Williams from this time on.
6’3”, 165 lbs
When the college basketball bribery scandal shocked the college basketball world, Simons was quick to de-commit from Louisville, one of the central schools named in the case. Florida was heavily involved in his recruitment before his made his initial commitment to the Cardinals, so it was no surprise that he made quick contact with the Gators after de-committing. Simons is an electric guard who can get to his spots on the floor with ease, and has all the makings of an elite bucket getter at the college level. A top 10 player in most recruiting rankings, he would add the kind of potential one-and-done talent that Florida hasn’t seen in several years. Florida has a tiny edge in most analyst’s predictions, so this is a player that is definitely worth your attention. I anticipate he will wait until the spring to make his decision, so a successful season by the Gators could go a long way in signing him.
With only one open scholarship after the two commitments, you may think things are winding down. However, I think that there is a potential for a couple Gators to head pro after this season, and there is always potential for a transfer out. Don’t be shocked if Florida ends up with more space, and more chances to land an elite recruit or another graduate transfer.
What do you think about Florida’s recruiting situation? Leave a comment here or post on the Gator Country forums.