Head coach Todd Golden had his work cut out for him to build a roster when he first got to Florida with multiple players turning pro or hitting the transfer portal. After putting together a squad of talented athletes ready to contribute right away, there has been one scholarship remaining that has sat empty for some time. Golden has said that he won’t fill the spot just to do so, and the implication is that it could sit empty for a potential mid-season transfer, or just stay open to leave the Gators versatility moving forward.
While it was looking like Florida would go into the 2022-23 season with 12 scholarship players, a recent name has emerged that could enter that mix for the final spot.
Thomas Haugh is a 6’9”, 200 pound forward from New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Originally he was in the 2022 class but decided he would take a post grad year and enter the 2023 class. However, with recent interest from high-major schools such as Florida, there is a chance he decides to go back to the 2022 class and become a viable option for the Gators.
Coach Golden had been open about his desire to get another frontcourt player with the final scholarship and it wasn’t until a lot of those targets were off the board that he mentioned he would be okay not filling the spot. One of the big issues with landing one of the targets that he was looking at was the fact that the Gators had veteran, proven talent in the frontcourt and big-time names in the portal weren’t exactly interested in competing with the likes of Colin Castleton, CJ Felder, Jason Jitoboh, and Alex Fudge for minutes in the frontcourt. That makes a player like Thomas Haugh a viable target who might be okay sitting on the bench and maybe even taking a redshirt year as opposed to the post grad year he was considering. Sitting on the bench at Florida versus being a star in post grad will be an interesting decision process, but it’s one he could be weighing.
Haugh’s recruitment has been an interesting one. A few months ago, his offer list consisted of schools like Marist, Siena, Vermont, and Quinnipiac. However, in recent months his recruitment has been heating up rapidly and he has been bringing in high major offers, some of which are with him being in the 2023 class in mind but others still looking to get him in for the 2022 class. This is likely due to a convergence of two different things–on one hand, he is playing excellent basketball and coaches that weren’t able to see him the last few years due to COVID are now seeing what he’s capable of. On the other hand, schools trying to bring him in particularly in the 2022 class is an example of just how competitive the market for frontcourt players has been. Looking at the transfer portal this past offseason you can see how in demand forwards and centers have been and there have been some frontcourt players who weren’t even awfully effective at the mid-major level getting high major looks and even offers. Florida searched long and hard for a frontcourt player to fill their final scholarship and ultimately missed out on a few targets who had starting minute promises at other high majors, even though some of these targets weren’t even all that dominant at their previous mid-major stops.
The heavily tapped big man market has changed the demand for frontcourt players and that may be helping a player like Haugh, but in saying that I don’t want to diminish the play of a player who has a great frame and advanced skill set who has been playing some excellent basketball as of late. Haugh is a very enjoyable player to watch as he can do a bit of everything from handling the ball after he grabs a defensive rebound to making good passing reads in the halfcourt. His number one skill right now would likely be considered his three-point shot which has been consistently accurate, and at 6’9” he fills the stretch big role perfectly. Watching him you can see some Erik Murphy or Chandler Parsons, a tall shooter who doesn’t just stand in the corner but also has the skills to get into the teeth of the defense and play make.
After having largely mid-major offers throughout his high school career things have really picked up for Haugh. A source says he has a visit to Florida scheduled, and he just finished visits to Northwestern (at this point I should also point out he is an academically-minded student athlete) and Maryland. Georgia Tech is also involved in trying to get a visit, and Virginia Tech, Seton Hall, and Illinois have recently offered, though it’s unclear if they would take him in the 2022 class or want him in 2023.
This recruitment is a unique one because there is the element of competing with other elite schools for his services as well as factoring in whether he wants to go right to college or wait until the 2023 class. I am hearing that the Gators would like to take him in 2022 but even if he stays in the 2023 class they will still be recruiting him so he is a name you will continue to hear more of.