Neither Owens, Blakeney ready to commit

WINTER PARK – Neither Alex Owens (6-9, 240, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge) nor Antonio Blakeney (6-4, 175, Orlando, FL Oak Ridge) are anywhere close to making a commitment, but one thing for certain, the Florida Gators are very much on their 2015 recruiting radar.

“Florida definitely is interested and I’m interested in Florida,” Owens said Wednesday evening after scoring 16 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in Oak Ridge’s 54-47 loss to unbeaten Wekiva in the first round of the 31st Annual Rotary Tip-Off Classic at Winter Park High School.

Blakeney, a wing guard forced to play the point, scored 13 points and had five assists in the loss. Like Owens, he is regularly in touch with the Gators.

“Florida recruits me hard,” he said. “I talk to Coach (Billy) Donovan. He’s a very cool coach.”

Back in August, Owens committed to UCF but withdrew the commitment a short time later. UCF remains one of three schools that he says is recruiting him hard and that he’s seriously considering.

“It’s Florida, Louisville and UCF,” Owens said. “They are all recruiting me hard and those are the three that I’m seriously looking at.”

Owens said he doesn’t know exactly when he’s going to make a commitment because he wants to let the recruiting process play itself out.

“I’m just not ready to commit now,” Owens said.

Blakeney has a longer list and he’s in no hurry to narrow it down. Of the seven schools he says that are recruiting him the hardest and have his interest, three are the same as Owens – Florida, Louisville and UCF. The other four are Florida State, Kansas, North Carolina and Missouri.

Of the seven he says he has no favorites.

“They’re all about the same right now,” he said. “I’ve got time to figure things out and decide which is the best place for me.”

SCOUTING REPORT: If Blakeney doesn’t pass the ball to Owens, the only way he will get the ball is going after it on the backboards. Owens has very strong hands and once he gets even one hand on the ball, he’s going to pull it in. He will put the ball on the floor and shoot a little right hand runner once he turns his left shoulder into a defender’s chest, but the rest of the time it’s a straight power move. He doesn’t use his left hand at all.

Owens is all about brute strength now but moves his feet well enough that with some coaching he could be an exceptional low post scorer. Right now, he’s in serious need of coaching.

Blakeney is a catch and shoot guy who doesn’t get much chance to do what he does best because his teammates are pretty much a black hole – once the ball goes in to them it never comes out. He was 4-10 from the field, 2-5 from both inside and outside the arc. He plays the point out of necessity and is the only player on the perimeter willing to share the basketball. When he shoots, he turns his right shoulder and actually leads with it so hes’ not really squared up. That’s something that will have to fundamentally change because if forced to his right it’s an awkward motion that allows a defender to close quickly.

Watch the body language and it’s easy to tell that Blakeney is a bit frustrated with teammates who have no problem driving into the teeth of a defense and throwing up a wild shot. He’s a scorer, but not an unconscious gunner and perhaps the only kid on the Oak Ridge team who plays defense with any kind of consistency.

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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.