Florida Looks To Nab ’22 Target From SEC Rivals

Mike White and his staff started the 2022 recruiting class by landing a highly rated player in Malik Reneau followed by a player they think is underrated by the scouting services in Denzel Aberdeen, and now they’re back to trying to land a highly-rated stud.


Chance Westry is someone the Gators only recently got involved with but they instantly became relevant in his recruitment. He is the 31st ranked player in the class, around where Malik Reneau was rated before he was bumped up to 26th, adding a fifth star to his name. 


A similar bump is possible for Westry, though it isn’t like he has been a fast riser or someone with a massive surge in his recruitment lately. He has been considered a top player in this class for a while, and someone whose recruitment has been a bit of an interesting one since he has always been considered to be a heavy lean to a particular school before things seem to shift.


Westry is originally from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. While he was still home he was heavily pursued by nearby Penn State, though when it started to appear he was interested in a bigger name program he started to hear from Maryland and eventually Syracuse, a school he was considered to be leaning towards. 


Then, he moved across the country to Arizona where he started to attend basketball powerhouse Hillcrest Prep. This got USC and Arizona State involved, and a number of other programs backed off thinking they were out of the mix.


Fast forward to the last couple of months and it has been all SEC. Even six weeks ago, LSU was considered to be the favorite. Westry had a number of media members saying Westry to LSU was a done deal, and fans started getting to know who they thought was the next Tiger.


And maybe he was going to be a Tiger–but not one from Baton Rouge. Auburn entered the picture, and soon after became the perceived leader. 


Fast forward to the last couple of weeks and Florida entered the mix. Westry took their offer seriously and instantly made time for the full court press the Gators were putting on him. 


As it now stands, word on the street is that Westry is now down to Auburn and Florida and he’s looking to make a decision soon. Of course, it is worth noting that there have been a number of teams that thought they were in the lead and that his decision was coming soon. The November 1st date has been thrown around, and while we can’t yet be certain if he’s going to make his announcement by then it is a date to watch. 


While he might have flip flopped a bunch during his recruitment he has seemed to narrow down what he’s looking for and a number of sources, including a staff member at Hillcrest Prep, say the Gators have a fantastic chance to land him.


Westry is taking a visit to Florida this weekend, something that will solidify Florida’s pitch and hopefully be what it takes to get his commitment. 


With 6’8” forward Malik Reneau and 6’4” combo guard Denzel Aberdeen already in the class, Westry would be the perfect complement to round things out. He’s a 6’6” wing, the most coveted kind of player in college basketball. Florida has started recruiting more of this style of player in recent seasons after struggling with wing depth and it’s something that should help them with both the offensive and defensive schemes Mike White is hoping to run.


Many of the wings Florida has targeted were guys with incredible physical gifts and a developing skill set, but Westry is different. While he’s a good athlete he’s not an outstanding one, but man is he skilled. Watching his tape, his ball handling is what jumps out right away as he is comfortable initiating offense as a lead guard or breaking down his man one on one to get a scoring opportunity. This isn’t a three-and-D wing to stick in the corner and space the floor, it’s a secondary ball handler who can make things happen when the ball gets reversed to him.


For Mike White who has always wanted to play dribble drive offense, Westry is the kind of player you need–a straight line driver at the wing position who can attack a closeout and get into the teeth of the defense. 


Kowacie Reeves is a player in a similar mould to Westry, and Reeves is getting glowing reviews from camp so far. In modern basketball it’s tall wings that can handle the ball that are the apex predators so it’s wise that the Gators are targeting these kinds of players.


In terms of Florida’s chances, it’s tough to say. Right now they look to be in great shape, though Auburn is still the perceived leader. However, throughout his recruitment Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse, LSU, and Arizona State have all thought at some points they had a great opportunity to land him and most of these programs are now considered to be out of the picture. From what sources are saying and the fact he’s travelling across the country for an official visit it seems that Florida’s chances are a lot more real than some of these other teams, and this is definitely a player to watch out for.

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on 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 @Efawcett7.