Immediately since coming to Florida, head coach Todd Golden has come out with all guns blazing when it comes to recruiting, particularly in the 2024 class. To recap, these are some players and their rankings in the class that Florida has had contact with:
Naas Cunningham (3rd)
Dylan Harper (5th)
Asa Newell (6th)
Liam McNeely (22nd)
David Castillo (25th)
Ryan Jones (38th)
Dedan Thomas (39th)
Peyton Marshall (48th)
Given how many top 50 players that Golden and his staff have already had contact with or officially offered, it’s not a surprise that they would extend an offer to another top player, as they just did with 4th ranked Flory Bidunga. However, this recruitment isn’t exactly a normal one.
A year ago, Bidunga’s name wasn’t on anyone’s radar, who was largely unknown to college coaches as well as the media members who identify and evaluate high school talent.
Originally from the Democratic Republic Of Congo, he was identified from an NBA Top-100 camp where he turned heads and earned the opportunity to come to America to play for Kokomo High School in Indiana.
It didn’t take long for schools like Wake Forest, Bradley, and Purdue-Fort Wayne to take notice and give immediate offers, hoping they’d slide in before the blue bloods noticed. However, a player can only stay hidden for so long, and from a point 10 months ago where he had zero offers and was generally unknown he’s now the 4th ranked player in the 2024 class with offers from all the big name schools that go with honor.
Here’s where things get interesting. Three days ago, a writer named Trevor Andershock (who covers Indiana for 247) put in a crystal ball prediction that Bidunga would commit to Cincinnati which created a lot of buzz. Andershock is historically very accurate with his predictions, and isn’t known to make them if he isn’t extremely confident. However, did that phase Florida’s coaching staff? Not one bit.
One day later, they traveled to Indiana to meet with Bidunga in person and extend an offer. Bidunga announced the offer himself.
Does that sound like his recruitment is closed? Perhaps not.
Florida’s staff heading to the midwest to offer a top player that many consider to already have a decision made shows just how confident they are in landing top talent. Is it too little, too late for the Bidunga recruitment? Given the atypical recruiting journey he has been on so far, I don’t think so. It wasn’t long ago that he had no offers at all, so Cincinnati may be pressuring him to make a decision and lock in his decision–knowing that other schools like, say, Florida, are going to enter the mix and make his decision a lot tougher. Andershock may have got very good intel, something he was confident in enough to make a prediction, but Bidunga’s current coaches and inner circle might make sure he doesn’t rush to make a decision before top programs are able to recruit him.
Exactly how close Bidunga is to making a decision is unknown, but Florida traveling to Indiana to see him in person and offer him a day after a lot of people had resigned that he was going to Cincinnati shows a whole lot of gumption, if you ask me.
When it comes to his game, Bidunga is a breathtaking athlete at 6’9” that tries to tear down the rim with every dunk attempt. He combines power and grace, as when he leaps in the air it almost looks like he’s floating, and then when he dunks the ball it’s with pure ferocity.
Given that he’s relatively new to high level basketball you might expect that he’d be raw or somewhat of a project and while that’s partially true it would be a lazy narrative to suggest he’s just a run and jump athlete that doesn’t know the game. He’s already a skilled scorer in the post and the ability he shows to score with either hand already is something that even veteran college post players struggle with–and I’ll use this time to remind you that Bidunga has plenty of time to develop before entering college as a 2024.
With the raw athletic tools he’s been gifted with and the skill level he’s already achieved with plenty of room to grow you can see why there will be plenty of programs vying for his services and the Gators will probably have to beat out some big names. If nothing else, the offer to Bidunga continues to show just how confident that Golden and his staff are when it comes to the Gator brand and their ability to recruit and optimism continues to grow that he will put together an incredible 2024 class.