Florida Targets Tre Mann and CJ Walker Soar At Peach Jam

Two of the Gators’ major targets happen to play for the same grassroots basketball program which made it easy to get a look at them as they performed at Nike’s Peach Jam, one of the premier recruiting events of the summer. I’m speaking of point guard Tre Mann and forward CJ Walker, both Florida products playing for Each 1 Teach 1. Though E1T1 struggled, Mann and Walker were some of the biggest names to come out of the tournament and it has their respective recruitments as hot as ever.

CJ Walker, whose tournament was highlighted by a monstrous dunk all over power forward Vernon Carey (the number two player in the 2019 class) was probably the biggest riser when all was said and done having people like CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish and 247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer declaring him as a top-10 talent in their minds. Considering the Gators first offered him when he was outside the top-150 and the fact he currently sits at #46, this was a high praise and also an indication that the Gators got in early on a player that could end up as a 5-star. One offer the Gators will have to be worried of is the quickly-rising Memphis Tigers headed up by newly minted head coach Penny Hardaway. Coach Penny has been making waves with his NBA experience-filled staff including himself, former NBA coach Sam Mitchell, and former Gator great and NBA Champion Mike Miller and their offer to Walker will be very tempting despite them getting to the party fashionably late. Walker’s mentor Marcus Robinson had this to say about the offer. “There’s no other staff in the country that has that much NBA experience on the staff. It’s hard to overlook a staff like that. I told Penny the ball is in Memphis’ court now. You all got your work cut out for you, as any other school, but we have been waiting on that Memphis offer for the longest.” Hearing that they were waiting on the offer is scary for Gators fans but I think you’ve got to consider them still firmly in the mix considering how early they identified him and started building a relationship in addition to the fact that he’s an in-state kid. Watching him at Peach Jam, I think the coaching staff will be kicking their pursuit of him into high gear. He covered tons of ground defensively with his length and endless motor and impressed on the offensive end with his length and footwork to finish around the hoop. Always sprinting back in transition to find his man or deter a fast break layup and setting good, solid screens on offense he did all the little things to help his team be successful and anyone watching would have picked up that he could be an elite glue guy capable of bringing any group of players together. His Peach Jam stats:

18.0 Points Per Game
1.2 Assists Per Game
8.5 Rebounds Per Game
1.2 Steals Per Game
2.0 Blocks Per Game
2.8 Turnovers Per Game
56.1 Field Goal Percentage
30.0 3-Point Percentage
62.5 Free Throw Percentage

Louisville and Tennessee have the upper hand right now in the eyes of some analysts but I definitely wouldn’t count out the Gators when it comes to the do-it-all forward. Now onto his teammate, Tre Mann.

If you love basketball you’ll love watching Tre Mann play. Gliding around the court with an ease that looks unfair considering the quality of competition he’s up against he just looks effortless in the way he gets to the hoop before laying the ball in around a defender, often with such smoothness you didn’t even realize he was raked across the arm until the ref guides him to the free throw line. A gifted scorer, the Gators definitely see him as a player who could be an affective part of the attack instantly and could provide a different dimension at the point than they have had the last few years. His five games at Peach Jam provided a great opportunity to see his work on the defensive side of the ball, something that I regrettably hadn’t paid enough attention to in the past a I was more mesmerized by his efficiency and 3-point stroke on offense. He played well on that end, particularly when on the wing of a 2-3 zone where he played angles well and was disruptive in passing lanes. After initially naming a final three schools of Tennessee, Kansas, and Florida in May, he also had established a commitment date of July 30th. At Peach Jam he announced his recruitment would be reopened and I expect that to make his decision even tougher to predict. Arizona State, Florida State, Memphis, and Texas A&M were all considered to be in the mix before he narrowed down his list and I’m expecting some of those schools and more to reach out and make his decision tougher before he signs a letter of intent. Much like Memphis put themselves firmly in contention for Walker I expect them to be in heavily on Mann, dangling the combined NBA experience of the coaching staff as to why he should go run the point for them. He didn’t mention if he was still planning on making a decision on July 30th but if he’s planning on keeping that timeline, expect a lot of intrigue between now and then. The 31st ranked player in the 2019 class, he’ll be a player likely to step right into a major role at the highest level of college basketball. A believer in the 247 Crystal Ball? They currently have the Gators leading at 56% with Tennessee taking the rest at 44%. Here were his Peach Jam stats:

21.8 Points Per Game
3.4 Assists Per Game
5.0 Rebounds Per Game
1.6 Steals Per Game
2.2 Turnovers Per Game
56.5 Field Goal Percentage
44.8 3-Point Percentage
85.7 Field Goal Percentage

Could we see a package deal to the Gators of these two Each 1 Teach 1 kids? Maybe, but I’m sure Tennessee and Memphis will be looking for that package themselves. As the summer continues, be sure to watch for what could be two of the most fascinating recruiting battles of the 2019 class for the Gators.

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.