Gators Emerge In Race For Class Of ’19 Swingman Jalen Wilson

Some interesting news for Florida fans came on Thursday when Jalen Wilson, a top-50 recruit in the 2019 class, got a release from Michigan and re-opened his recruitment.

When asked in an interview about the schools he is looking at the hardest he said Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, and Florida.

Florida coming up in his favorites is quite interesting because when he initially made his commitment to the Wolverines the Gators weren’t really considered to be in the mix to land him. Considering the Gators weren’t in the running in his initial recruitment but are now suggests to me he sees the opportunity at Florida and is serious about considering them as suggesting they are one of his favorites wouldn’t be any holdover from his initial recruitment. Hailing from Denton, Texas I assume it’s Texas specialist Al Pinkins on the recruitment as he looks to pull the talented swingman to Gainesville.

Wilson is listed at 6’8” and 215 pounds and he looks a lot more physically developed than a lot of the wings in his class. He plays really strong and has a frame that could bulk up even more and with his fluid athleticism I could see him playing at either the 3 or 4 spot. In addition to the size and athleticism he’s got a good looking jump shot with excellent range and he projects to be a tremendous shooter. Considering his size, athleticism, and shooting ability I’m honestly surprised he’s not ranked higher as the polish to his game in addition to his physical gifts could have him much higher in the ranks.

While the starting center spot has been the focus of a lot of fans when it comes to Florida’s final scholarship the lack of depth at wing is an area that could be a problem and landing Wilson would really help. Behind Keyontae Johnson and Scottie Lewis there aren’t natural 3s or 4s behind them and while it looks right now that Tre Mann and Omar Payne could slide into those positions to cover some minutes Wilson would be a much more natural fit. Many of the top teams in college basketball are packed with versatile wings and right now the Gators don’t have many athletes that fit that description. If they were to land Wilson I’d expect him to get backup minutes at the 3 and 4 positions and actually play a pretty big role right away, something I think he’s prepared for.

Of course, Kerry Blackshear is still one of the focuses for the Gators and with only a single scholarship remaining they wouldn’t be able to land both him and Wilson. Lots of reports are suggesting Blackshear will be turning pro and not returning to college and with most of Florida’s backup graduate transfer options at the 5 already committing elsewhere they don’t have many options after the Virginia Tech big man. For a big target like Wilson to open now is a pleasant surprise and I think considering the decreasing optimism that Blackshear is coming back to college and potentially Gainesville means Wilson could become a priority.

Florida’s pitch to Wilson will likely be the minutes they can offer right away next to some really good talent. The Gators don’t have a wing like Wilson and he’ll be able to get a role at a few different positions and he’ll also be able to join a class that’s already elite. Not only will he be able to play right away but the Gators are a talented group that many expect to win a good amount of games.

While it’s early in the recruitment to really peg Florida’s chances the fact that he named them as one of his early favorites should be a cause for optimism. While I know it’s Blackshear or bust for a lot of people Wilson would cover up a few holes on the roster and inject more top-level talent onto the roster. This will be a recruitment to watch closely.

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.