Florida is yet to receive a commitment from a player in the 2022 class but soon that could be changing.
A few years ago, having zero commitments in the summer prior to that class graduating would be cause for major concern. However, things with recruits have drastically shifted and you’re not often seeing commitments before a player’s senior season, so this isn’t anything out of the ordinary for Florida.
One question surrounding Florida’s 2022 class will be how many commitments they try to get. Colin Castleton is almost certainly going to go to the NBA Draft after almost doing it this summer, and if Keyontae Johnson ends up being healthy he should be off to the pros as well. Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby will be playing in their fifth seasons of college basketball, though hypothetically they could come back for a sixth after last season didn’t count towards their eligibility and each of them took a redshirt year previously. Brandon McKissic and Phlandrous Fleming, graduate transfers, will also be off after one year in Gainesville.
Given how active the Gators have been in the transfer portal recently, and how they have had much more success going down that avenue than with high school recruiting, you can probably expect them to only try and land one or two names in the 2022 class.
These are some of the 2022 players the Gators have been recruiting the hardest.
Chase Cormier is a player that the Gators have been recruiting for a while and they have been considered a favorite for much of the process. He’s the 130th ranked player in the class, though his offers potentially not quite be as impressive as you’d expect for a player with that ranking. Two other SEC schools have extended offers in Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and his other offers read like Xavier, Elon, Georgia State, and Northeastern. The relative lack of high major interest is likely due to his smaller frame as he’s listed at 6’2” and 160 pounds. For a player that small, he’s also potentially a bit more of a shooting guard than a point guard, and that size could be a concern. However, he can really shoot the lights out and shows good offensive instincts all around the floor. Cormier is probably not someone who will step in day one and have a huge impact but down the line could be a fantastic college player. Of course, in this era of college basketball, multi-year projects aren’t popular, and that’s probably why his offer list is what it is. If the Gators want him, they should have an excellent chance at getting the commitment.
With Colin Castleton likely gone after the season the Gators would love to get another center in the program and one of their top targets to fill the spot is Felix Okapara, a 6’11” center from Hamilton Heights. Hamilton Heights is a program the Gators have recently gotten a few players from in Jason Jitoboh and Samson Ruzhentsev and they’d love to keep that connection strong as it’s a recent powerhouse in high school basketball. Okapara has all the physical tools you’d want from a center, a perfect frame that should have him in NBA discussions in a couple of years. Ohio State, Texas, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are also heavily in the mix to land him so Florida will have their work cut out trying to get him. While Florida has had some success with centers recently with Kerry Blackshear and Colin Castleton neither of those players were really developed by the Gators, something that might hurt their recruitment of a quality big. They’ll be doing their best to land Okpara and turn the ship around with their frontcourt development.
Another frontcourt option the Gators are after is Eric Dailey, though he’s more of a power forward at 6’7” and 215 pounds. While that might not sound massive, watching him play he is as physically dominant as anyone in this class and controls the paint with his muscle and sheer will. Florida has struggled playing against this kind of big that teams like LSU, Alabama, and Tennessee have had recently and they’d love to land a true power forward to start benefiting from that style of play. Dailey plays at nearby IMG Academy, a place where Florida hasn’t had a ton of success recently. Hopefully the recent issues landing players from there doesn’t hurt their chances with Dailey, a player who looks like he can contribute in college from day one. Michigan, Texas A&M, and Alabama have been recruiting him the hardest alongside Florida so this will be another tough recruitment.
Wing is arguably the most important position in modern basketball and the top target on Florida’s board at this position is Severn, Maryland product Cam Whitmore. Standing 6’6” and weighing 200 pounds he looks the part of a modern wing, something the Gators desperately need. He’s currently the 55th ranked player in the 2022 class, though recently some recruiting services have rocketed him up to near top-25 status after he has had an awesome summer showcasing a more polished offensive game than when he was last seen. Right now it’s North Carolina, Penn State, Villanova, and Maryland chasing him with the Gators. This is the exact type of player the Gators need so they should be doing everything they can to make him a priority.
Newly-hired assistant Akeem Miskdeen’s first major project as a Gator was to enter the recruitment of LJ Thomas, a point guard from Carborro, North Carolina. Thomas is a true point guard, something the Gators could really use in the 2022 class. Their only true point guard on the roster right now is Tyree Appleby, and he could be gone after this season. Their backup point guard option right now is likely Brandon McKissic, someone who will be graduating. So, point guard is a priority and Thomas is one of the players they have been recruiting the hardest at that position. He is currently the 176th ranked player in the class, though that is almost certainly going to go up soon. In the last month and a half he got the offer from Florida, as well as offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, and NC State, something that speaks to the improvements in his game since the last evaluation period. Thomas looks a lot like the kind of point guards that Mike White has liked during his coaching career. He’s stout at 6’2” and 190 pounds and can be physical at the point of attack, pressuring opposing guards and making it difficult for them to initiate offense. He might not be the flashiest player or the highest scorer but he plays hard, defends, and could be in the program for a few years to develop into something really special.