The Gators landed an impactful 2020 recruit on Friday afternoon as 6’7” wing Samson Ruzhentsev announced his intention to attend Florida. A native of Moscow, Russia he has played his last two years at Hamilton Heights in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he played alongside Jason Jitoboh.
Ruzhentsev was down to Florida, Ole Miss, Stanford, and Georgia Tech after recently eliminating Illinois. He also held offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Georgia. In a recent interview he mentioned Florida’s championship pedigree and recent success with recruiting as reasons he was looking at them.
Ruzhentsev is the 110th ranked player in the class, though it should be noted that Rivals has him 75th and 247 Sports ranks him 53rd. Players from Tennessee haven’t exactly gotten much favor from recruiting analysts recently (see Ques Glover) and that could be part of the reason he didn’t rise in the rankings after a tremendous junior year that saw him rake in almost all his big offers. What lead to his rise was a number of games where he went head-to-head with some of the top players in the country and held his own, particularly a game where he went shot for shot with Anthony Edwards, the #2 player in 2019. Competing for Russia in the FIBA U18 games also really helped Ruzhentsev as he dominated some of the best prospects from around the globe. Rivals and 247 Sports saw his development and ranked him accordingly whereas some of the other outlets seemed to already have their minds made up.
As a player Ruzhentsev has a perfect skillset for the modern game. He’s got great athleticism and foot speed which allows to fly in the open court and finish strong, making for no shortage of highlight reel dunks. His shooting stroke is extremely developed and his immaculate form makes him one of the best shooters in the class. He’s also got an underrated handle, allowing him to get to the hoop even in a half court game where his open court speed is negated. There is a definite toughness about his game too that mixes with his athleticism to make an impactful defender. As a sophomore he measured at 6’6” with a 6’6” wingspan so he isn’t particularly long but other than that he profiled perfectly for what you want as a wing.
The Gators have had great recruiting success recently but one thing they haven’t gotten is much depth on the wing, particularly with good size and shooting. Ruzhentsev checks both of those boxes at 6’7” with one of the best strokes in the class. With the skills he possesses he’s a player that not only has a high ceiling but a high floor. With his offensive instincts and athleticism the sky is the limit for what he could do at Florida and if nothing else he can be an above average defender who can knock down the three. This isn’t a commitment that’s going to resonate nationally or be a big story but I think Ruzhentsev is one of the most underrated players in the class who could be a multi-year star for the Gators.