Mike White and his talented staff of Erik Pastrana, Akeem Miskdeen, and Al Pinkins continue to cook on the recruiting trail landing another highly sought-after athlete on Tuesday, forward Jalen Reed.
As has been the case with a number of recruits Coach White has landed during his tenure, Reed was a late riser who the Gators were on early before a number of high-major programs stepped in. At the time of Florida’s offer he was a three-star with primarily mid-major interest, and as we speak now he is a four-star ranked 93rd in the class.
Ultimately, Reed chose the Gators over Arizona State, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss. Said to be Florida’s biggest competition was Ole Miss who was thought to be leading the way for most of his recruitment. Playing a huge role in that was the fact that Reed’s father, Justin Reed, was a dominant All-American who played at Ole Miss in the early 2000s. Reed was born in Mississippi and still has plenty of ties there, but it wasn’t enough for the Rebels to overtake the Gators for his services.
While the Gators ended up victorious in the recruitment, it was far from a slam dunk. After spending his early years in Mississippi and Texas, Reed moved to Southern California to play his final high school basketball at Southern California Academy. Just a few days ago, Florida had two coaches (I am unaware of which ones) travel across the country to watch him play. That may have been a victory lap to see their future player, but it also could have been that this recruitment was truly coming down to the wire which is what I am hearing from recruiting analysts.
Whatever the journey was to land him, the Gators were successful and now have a very talented frontcourt piece to join 5-star Montverde star Malik Reneau.
Reed is listed at 6’10” and 220 and has an NBA body, something that gets coaches’ attention right away. What makes Reed particularly special is his ability to handle the ball, whether after securing a defensive rebound and going the length of the floor for a layup or in the half court where he can catch the ball on a reversal and drive. The Gators have made a change recently to try to get as many capable ball handlers on the floor as possible and with Reed at one of the frontcourt positions that becomes much easier. Reed isn’t incredibly explosive but he is certainly athletic, and it’s his fluidity that’s most enticing. That fluidity helps him a lot on the perimeter but it also comes in handy when it comes to body control around the rim and finishing acrobatic layups and dunks. His fluidity and athleticism also helps him when it comes to defense and he projects as a player who can switch out when needed onto smaller perimeter players.
With Reed and already committed Malik Reneau the Gators are set with an excellent looking frontcourt in the 2022 class and it’s easy to imagine the two fitting together seamlessly. Reneau probably has a bit more scoring ability on the interior with footwork and explosiveness, while Reed might have a better handle and more ability to drive from the outside. Reed also joins guard Denzel Aberdeen who will be sure to make him feel comfortable with his advanced passing and court vision.
Florida now has the 13th ranked class in 2022, though that number could very well go up. Denzel Aberdeen, currently a three-star ranked 193rd in the class, has been consistently rising and many expect him to be a four-star by the time things are all said and done. Reed has also been on a constant upward trajectory, and now with a commitment to the Gators that shouldn’t slow down.
Now with three commitments in the 2022 class Florida might be done with high school commitments, hoping to keep their powder try for the ever-powerful transfer portal. Of course, the Gators don’t know exactly how many scholarships they’ll have available, something that also affects how many high school players they choose to take.
In 2021, the Gators only aggressively went after one high school recruit, Kowacie Reeves. They ended up also grabbing Elijah Kennedy late in the cycle, but that was after they saw how many scholarships they had available after they saw who entered the transfer portal. Florida has shown they will only go after high school players they think are really, really good, and for them to get three this year hopefully suggests the Gators have a trio of studs.