Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

Apparently the Florida Gators feel good enough about the incoming freshmen and their prospects for 2009. Gator Country confirmed this morning that the Gators have told Will Witherspoon (6-7, 195, Lilburn, GA Berkmar) that they are taking a pass, choosing instead to save a scholarship for next season. If the Gators were to sign Witherspoon they would have to depend on some attrition to sign a second player for 2009 (Erik Murphy is already committed). By pulling out of the Witherspoon sweepstakes, the Gators will have at least two scholarships available for 2009 and there is the possibility that the number could increase to three with attrition of one player.

Of course, having extra scholarships is dependent on Marreese Speights going to the NBA. Everything that’s coming back from the NBA is positive on Speights right now but things could change when he participates in the NBA pre-draft combine down at Disney in late May. By not signing Witherspoon, the door is open for Speights to return, which means the Gators would have 13 on scholarship for the 2008-09 season. It’s pretty much unthinkable that Speights would be back for his senior year. Walter Hodge graduates after next season so that takes care of Murphy’s scholarship. Speights being gone either this year or after next would make two.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.