It’s nearing the end of January and that means not only is it well into Florida’s season but it’s well into the seasons for Florida’s 2020 commitments. We’ve gotten to really see how these players have performed in their final season before donning the orange and blue and have seen what developments they have made, adding to the excitement for what’s to come. Here’s a quick update on how the three future Gators are doing.
Lane’s Roselle Catholic team has taken some lumps this season going 8-5 though it’s worth noting they were missing him for a few games due to an illness. When he’s been on the floor he’s been a huge piece of what they do and his versatile game touches just about everything. Defensively he’s a menace. You’ll see him listed at few heights a few different places but he looks like a legitimate 6’6” with long arms and a decently filled out frame for a high school senior. There aren’t many bodies like that on the New Jersey prep circuit and he’s been bullying smaller guards, especially on defense where he simply overwhelms them. Lane exudes a toughness Gators fans are going to love. He plays hard and goes after every rebound and seeing the Gators struggle to finish possessions with a board recently Lane looks like a player who can really help in that area.
When Lane committed to the Gators he was known for his defense and a developed physical frame but there wasn’t a lot made of his offense. Watching some of him recently the strides he has made on that end are noticeable. Shooting the ball at a much better clip than a year ago he’s a legitimate threat from the outside making him profile like the coveted three-and-D player everyone is looking for in modern basketball. Playing with a lot more confidence with the basketball he’s also commanding defensive attention on the perimeter and using dribble moves to blow by defenders.
Lane’s size and athleticism are impressive and it’s easy to see him as an SEC contributor right away, especially now that his offense is looking a lot smoother. Watching him this year has definitely made me more of a fan than from what I saw a year ago and seeing him work and make improvements is encouraging.
Hamilton Heights has been nearly unstoppable in high school basketball this year, ranked in the top 15 by any service that ranks schools nationally. They’re unquestionably the best team in the state of Tennessee, and their best player has been Florida commit Samson Ruzhentsev.
It’s one thing to put up great stats, but it’s another thing to do it against good competition, and it’s even another thing to do it against good competition while also piling up wins. Ruzhentsev has been regularly putting up 20, 25, and 30 point games in wins over great competition and with every game I see I’m more excited that this guy chose to be a Gator. He just got a major bump in the Rivals recruiting rankings to the number 47 player in the 2020 class and it would shock me and all if he makes his way closer to the top 25 by the time it’s all said and done.
At 6’7” or 6’8” he has great size at the wing, and he truly plays the game like a shooting guard. He’s not a spot up player hanging out in the corner looking for catch and shoot threes, he’s a primary ball handler using screens and attacking downhill with his speed and dribbling ability. For a player of that size to be so adept at handling the ball is impressive and he is one of the most impressive scorers I have seen this year in high school basketball. As a junior he was a polished scorer and now as a senior he seems to have just taken his entire game up another level. His shooting is even better, his ball handling is impressive, and his athleticism is unmatched by most high school competition. Bringing effort on the defensive end, he’s also an impactful player there, something made easier by his length and athleticism.
While it’s great to see him competing on defense he is definitely the most exciting as a scorer. The Gators haven’t had a wing player that can fill it up like him in a while so he’s set to bring a whole new dimension to Florida’s offense. He’s in a winning scenario at Hamilton Heights playing a major role and that will hopefully be valuable experience for him as well as he prepares to head to Gainesville.
If there is a player that has really shown improvement from the start of the season until now it’s JUCO forward Osayi Osifo. After starting the year sluggish from an offensive standpoint he’s started finding a bit of momentum getting up to a team leading 11.5 points per game while also chipping in 7.7 rebounds. Osifo’s offensive game is fairly limited but he’s found a way to be productive. Using his leaping ability and length he mostly hangs around the rim but when he gets the ball dumped down to him he knows what to do with it. He has also been trying to expand his range to the three-point line but he hasn’t found success with it quite yet only hitting 27.3% of his attempts.
While he has shown improvements I still think he’s got a bit of a ways to go before he’ll look comfortable transitioning to the SEC. He has been absolutely overwhelming JUCO frontcourts but that won’t be the case in college, and while he has unbelievable defensive potential at 6’8” with over a 7’0” wingspan he hasn’t been dominating on the defensive end. Osifo hasn’t been playing basketball for that long and is still learning the game and that hurts him at points with defensive rotations as it doesn’t seem like he has great anticipation yet. You’d think he’d be a great rim protector with his length and athleticism but he hasn’t been able to read plays and get to the rim to contest shots and overall the team, who is loaded with talent, hasn’t been outstanding defensively which has led to a somewhat disappointing 15-9 record so far.
By all accounts he’s an extremely hard worker and as I mentioned before he already looks much better now than he did at the start of the season so there definitely appears to be an upward trajectory. He’s got the physical tools and from the sounds of it a great work ethic so there is definitely potential there.