Much of Florida’s recruiting efforts are currently focused towards the 2024 class as the new staff will have time to build relationships with these players as opposed to the 2023 class, where they’d be entering the mix rather late.
Another reason the Gators are putting their effort towards the 2023 class is because they are comfortable with the skill, size, and versatility of their lone 2023 commit–Thomas Haugh.
Haugh hails from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania and currently attends Perkiomen School. He is the 199th ranked player in the class, making him a three-star.
Growing up a Gator fan he was thrilled to be offered by Todd Golden and it didn’t take much salesmanship from staff as he committed to Florida after also receiving offers from Illinois, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Boston College.
With the high school season well underway, it was time for an update on how Haugh is doing and how his game is progressing in his final year before coming to Gainesville.
Haugh stands at 6’9” with a 6’11” wingspan, and while at the high school level he is often the tallest player on the floor tasked with guarding centers on the opposing side, he projects as an SEC power forward. He certainly might end up playing some center minutes, but the 200 pound Haugh is likely going to be slightly undersized at center, but have excellent size at power forward.
Speaking of 200 pounds, it’s notable that he looks like he’s added some bulk to a frame that was thin at the beginning of the summer. Most high school kids, particularly 6’9” ones, are going to be thin and Haugh wasn’t small to the point of it being a concern, but it was certainly something you’d like to see him improve on before coming to the rough and tumble SEC and he has already shown a commitment to the weight room getting a bit bigger.
Something exciting about Haugh’s game is that he’s a bit of a jack-of-all trades that you can’t pigeon hole to just one role. He can handle it a bit, he can post up a bit, and he’ll extend behind the perimeter to shoot it a bit.
While he can contribute in a number of ways, his best attribute is probably his ball handling ability at 6’9”. He’s comfortable handling the ball in traffic, and he’s most dangerous as a driver or in transition after securing a defensive rebound and then pushing it.
Another area Haugh has got better is when it comes to shooting the basketball. There are going to be people that see Haugh’s build and appearance and assume he’s a stretch big, but he’s never really played that role and is far more comfortable dribbling than catching and shooting. You can tell that he has put in a lot of work on his jump shot and while his three-point shot isn’t yet a massive strength it is improving and the mechanics look pretty solid and that’s what’s most important right now.
Something else that makes Haugh far different than a conventional stretch big is his athleticism which was already a positive and continues to improve. Haugh is a fluid athlete, something you like to see when projecting his ability to guard on the perimeter, but he’s also pretty explosive while continuing to get even more powerful. He has already had a number of highlight reel dunks and those will continue because of his skill set and his leaping ability. There are plenty of explosive jumpers who don’t get a lot of dunks because they aren’t able to get to the rim, but Haugh’s ability to get downhill with the dribble puts him in situations where he can punish the rim.
Right now the situation for Haugh at Perkiomen is an interesting one. When you think about what Haugh is likely going to be at the SEC level, it’s a high level role player. Someone who does the little things, defends, makes the offense move, and knocks down an open shot. However, at Perkiomen he is quite clearly the best player and he is tasked with being the primary offensive initiator, something that is not his biggest strength.
On one hand, he’s not getting to refine the points of his game that will help him earn rotation minutes early in his time at Florida. However, on the other hand, he’s getting all the touches he could possibly want and is free to make mistakes and he builds his skills and grows his game, and it might be a huge positive that he’s able to be in a situation where he can work on primary initiating skills that he probably wouldn’t get to work on if he was at a better program playing next to elite guards.
With Haugh being Florida’s only commit for 2023 we will continue to keep a close eye on his development as we look forward to him joining the squad next season.