Florida was heavily after 2021 point guard Tyrese Hunter, an athletic 6’1” point guard from Wisconsin who gives off unmistakable Kasey Hill vibes. Unfortunately, they got word last week that he committed to Iowa State.
Bolstering the point guard position with a spot in the 2021 class has been something talked about at lengths around the Florida basketball program and while it appears they missed out on their number one prospect there is another really interesting player they have zeroed in on.
6’3” North Carolina product Carter Whitt.
The Gators first offered Whitt over a year ago where he was a 3-star, an undersized ball handler with a penchant for making the flashy play. Fast forward to now, and he’s sprouted up to 6’3” and is a 4-star coming in at 71st in the class of 2021.
Everything about Whitt’s game has to start with his touch on the offensive side of the basketball. Ever since he was a high school freshman his tight handle and desire to throw no-look and behind the back passes gave him a reputation and his style of play has drawn comparisons to Gator legend Jason Williams. Early in his high school career he was small, even for the point guard position, something that helped grow his offensive creativity as he couldn’t rely on physical gifts. Now that he’s 6’3” he still has that offensive creativity but now has the length to finish around shot blockers and initiate contact around the rim. He’s even throwing down highlight reel dunks, something that would have sounded entirely unrealistic when Florida first offered him.
What makes Florida’s pursuit of Whitt interesting is the fact that he is extremely unlike any of the other point guards they have been pursuing. When you look at Florida’s point guard board, one that was at one point quite expansive but has been whittling down as players choose homes, you mostly see one archetype of player. They’re shorter, have great footspeed, and are physically stout.
It appears this is a bit of a reaction to the Andrew Nembhard era that had mixed results. When Mike White’s Florida teams were at their best that had either Kasey Hill or Chris Chiozza at point guard, both players who had outstanding speed. That meant they could apply furious ball pressure on opposing point guards, something White has always liked from players at that position. Extreme ball pressure at the point of attack set the tone for Florida’s entire defense, but that changed when Nembhard came to Gainesville.
Nembhard was a solid positional defender who played angles well and could use his length to plug up dribble penetration, but he never had the speed to apply the ball pressure White desires. In reaction to that, most of the point guards Florida is going after are outstanding defensive players who can pressure the ball.
Except for Whitt.
While Whitt isn’t a tremendous defender, and doesn’t project to ever be an elite one at the college level, his offensive upside is unmistakable. In a lot of cases with high school recruits their defense is ahead of their offense, and it can be difficult to project with any level of certainty who will be a productive scorer at the college level. However, when you look at Whitt, you can see someone who is going to rack up points and assists. He’s a tremendous shooter off the dribble, incredibly slippery when driving to the rim, and someone is the consensus best passer in the 2021 class. With him projecting to be a one-man offense there is a chance Florida is willing to take him despite the fact he doesn’t fit their defensive profile.
In the 2020 class Florida has an elite defender in Niels Lane as well as a really good defender in Samson Ruzhentsev who has the tools to get to that elite level. In 2021 the Gators already have Kowacie Reeves signed up, someone plays with intense fire on the defensive end and is really productive there. With so many great defenders on the wing the Gators could see Whitt in an insulated position, and that could be the perfect scenario for him.
Something that should also be noted is that I had a scout tell me he saw Whitt play a week ago at an event and give me feedback. He was making it a priority to watch him play and he had some interesting reactions. In addition to Whitt’s incredible offensive touch, the scout told me he was super impressed with Whitt’s toughness on both sides of the floor as he was willing to do whatever it takes to win. Oftentimes offense-first players get the reputation as being a bit soft, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Whitt.
Right now it’s not known who the leader is for Whitt and he is entertaining offers from all over the country. Alabama, Michigan, and Virginia Tech are thought to be some of the schools going after him the hardest with the Gators also in that mix.
The word around his recruitment is that in his perfect world he’d commit before the end of the summer so he can go into his final year of high school with that next step figured out so there is a chance we hear about his decision in the next couple of weeks.