When it comes to recruiting high school talent the Gators aren’t just trying to land elite recruits, they’re trying to get them on campus as soon as possible.
One of the recruitments you may have been tracking was that of Dedan Thomas, one of the top point guards in the class of 2024. Well, that is–at least for now.
Florida has been one of the leaders in the recruitment of Thomas and while he currently is slated to enter college in 2024, the Gators are hoping he will reclassify to 2023 where they would happily take him.
Thomas is a 6’1” ball handler that lives in Henderson, Nevada where he plays for Liberty High. He’s currently the 30th ranked player in the class of 2024 and the 4th ranked point guard. When it comes to playing style, Thomas is as pure a point guard as it gets. He loves to have the ball in his hands early after his team gets a defensive rebound where he can push the ball up the floor looking for a teammate for a layup or open three. If nothing is there, he’s happy to read the floor and wait for a ball screen before either attacking the cup or dishing the rock once he collapses the defense. From a basketball IQ and skill standpoint he already looks like a college point guard and that’s part of the reason why a reclassification might be in order.
Six schools have been named by Thomas as his finalists–Florida, Gonzaga, UCLA, Houston, Arizona, and UNLV.
His final six schools make a lot of sense for an elite point guard. Gonzaga has been known as “Point Guard U” recently, something with ties to former assistant Tommy Lloyd who is currently at Arizona. UCLA is one of the top programs on the west coast, and UNLV is not only the hometown team but it’s also where Thomas’ dad played. Houston is simply operating as one of the top teams in the sport, so they’re going to have pull with a lot of prospects no matter where they are in the country.
Right now, one of the differentiating factors could be who is willing to take him a year early if he chooses to reclassify and give him the minutes he wants right away. Sources say some of these programs love Thomas’ game but would prefer him in 2024–something that makes a lot of sense. Point guard is a difficult position to play, and getting a top recruit a year later would make him even more college ready.
Florida is trying to get a leg up in his recruitment by pushing for the reclassification and offering him a big role right away. Right now nearly all the minutes at point guard are played by Kyle Lofton and Myreon Jones, two players that are set to graduate. The Gators have two other point guards on the roster in VMI transfer Trey Bonham and freshman Denzel Aberdeen but neither are in the rotation now so it appears that Florida’s staff isn’t particularly sold on either of them–at least in the short term. The Gators pursuing Thomas and pushing for the reclassification suggests they feel they need help in the point guard category and it could also be a way to give them an edge when recruiting against some of the best programs in the country. Todd Golden would love to land an elite recruit as soon as possible to hopefully start a pipeline of top players wanting to play for him and that would be a benefit of getting Thomas to come in 2023.
It has to be noted that reclassifying a point guard has had major risks in recent years, and we can use a couple of players the Gators recruited as an example. You might remember the names Carter Whitt and Carson McCorkle, two four-star players the Gators were hoping would help with ball handling duties before they cooled on the two because they wanted to reclassify. They started their careers at Wake Forest and Virginia, respectively, and things did not go well. Both struggled with the difficult task of running a high major offense as young players, and they ended up transferring early in their careers–to Furman and Wofford.
However, it’s also worth noting that the Gators had success with a reclass point guard in Andrew Nembhard–and he was a player similarly ranked to Thomas as opposed to Whitt and McCorkle who were more fringe top 100 players.
While it might be a bit of a gamble to take on a young point guard that has reclassified, it appears the Gators are ready to take that risk. They have spent a lot of time evaluating Thomas and they will push to have him be their starting point guard next season.
Thomas is set to make a final visit to the Gators on March 4th–the Gators’ final game of the season against LSU. He is still set to make more official visits to the other schools recruiting him so we might not hear a decision for a little while but he is definitely a player to keep an eye on.