Florida Gators: Basketball Recruiting

RecruitingNation: Stanley Johnson interview

August, 7, 2013
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Stanley Johnson, the nation’s No. 12 player, discusses his five official visits -- and two planned unofficial visits -- with Dave Telep and recaps his busy summer, capped by 17 points and 11 boards in the adidas Nations finale.
ESPN 100 forward Kevon Looney (Milwaukee/Hamilton) confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that he has narrowed his choices to six schools.

UF commit among standouts in Orlando 

July, 28, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The AAU Nationals and Super Showcase continued at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex on Saturday with more standout performances from elite recruits and sleepers alike. Among the stars on Saturday were Florida 2015 commit Kevarrius Hayes and ESPN 60 guard P.J. Dozier.

The Super Showcase Gold division will wrap up on Sunday as the semifinals will feature Each 1 Teach 1 versus Team Final and Howard Pulley against Boo Williams. The championship will be aired on ESPN3 at 2 p.m. ET.

Before things wrap up on Sunday, here’s a look at some of the top performers from Saturday’s action in Orlando.

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LAS VEGAS -- The underclassmen took center stage during Thursday's action at the adidas 64. Despite the sweltering heat in Vegas, scouts and coaches were treated to the dazzling talents of ESPN 25 prospect Josh Jackson (Detroit, Mich./Consortium) and ESPN 60 PF Carlton Bragg. Jackson has the physical tools and a feel for the game that is rare to see for a player of his youth, leading some in Michigan to call him the best prospect the state has produced since Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. Right now I would agree with that assessment but time will tell if it comes to fruition.

Not to be upstaged by the young guys, Florida commit Brandone Francis was also impressive for the senior class.

Here's a closer look at the top stars on Day 2 in Las Vegas.

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The first July evaluation period has come and gone, but not before a number of elite prospects made their mark on the court at events like the Nike Peach Jam, adidas Invitational and the LeBron James Skills Academy.

We brought back national recruiting director Paul Biancardi’s #AskCoachB mailbag to answer any questions you may have on the busy month and which recruits and classes are making waves. As a reminder, you can always get Paul’s take on any prospect or find about new recruiting activity anytime on Twitter using the hashtag.

In this week’s mailbag, Paul examines UNC’s possibilities for landing an elite shooting guard in its 2014 class, what Ohio State should add to its second-ranked recruiting class, Ed Cooley turning Providence into a serious player in recruiting and whether Justise Winslow and Florida recruit Brandone Francis are in line for a bump in ranking in the next ESPN 100.

So let’s get rolling with your questions.





He comes home with a gold medal from Prague, and I heard he was a very valuable member of that U-19 team. His ability to pass, defend, handle the ball, combined with his basketball acumen impact without needing to score makes him special. At times, he can even bring the ball up the floor with a point guard’s mentality. He’s part of a small group of guys outside the top 10 who have a strong chance at cracking the top 10 in our next rankings.

On his status in the proposed package deal of Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, I think Winslow would like for it to happen. But after going overseas and playing this summer, he’ll see his decision and future should be more about a school that fits his needs rather than trying to fit his needs with someone else’s. I’m sure all three are trying to make it happen, but the longer it goes the less of a possibility it will happen.





Providence has been a legit team in recruiting from the moment Ed Cooley got hired. That’s how he won at Fairfield and he did a tremendous job evaluating talent as an assistant at Boston College. Now as the leader at Providence, he’s not only doing a great job evaluating talent, he’s bringing those top guys in. When you look at Ricky Ledo (No. 21 in 2012), Kris Dunn (No. 23 in 2012) and Brandon Austin (No. 56 in 2013), that’s three big players he signed, and then add a commit from current ESPN 100 SF Jalen Lindsey, and you can see how big of an impact he’s had in a short time. Providence recruiting was instantly upgraded with his hire and the Friars are in great hands going forward.





I will say I love the Buckeyes class right now as it boasts skill, versatility and two guys who can flat out score in Keita Bates-Diop and D’Angelo Russell. With that said, it’s obvious they still need to add some size to the frontcourt despite earning a pledge from three-star center David Bell.

I can’t say who they will land but some of their biggest targets on their board are top-10 recruits Jahlil Okafor and Myles Turner. Now the Buckeyes are in the running to win the Okafor and Jones sweepstakes, but if they miss out, Turner would be a great consolation prize. Other potential targets are forwards Leron Black and Paul White and center Elbert Robinson, all of whom would be great gets for the No. 2-ranked team in the ESPN Class Rankings.




I see them finishing out the July and August event season and then taking some official visits together in the fall. I would say the earliest we can expect a decision is the early signing period (mid-November). They still need to take some official visits and sort things out before making a pledge.




The Tar Heels are looking for someone who can score and shoot with range. Someone like No. 11 senior prospect Rashad Vaughn would fit that bill. He’s the most dynamic scoring guard in the class and he does it from all three levels: Behind the line, inside the arc and driving to the basket. This guy has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, he just needs to cut down on his attempts and become more efficient. If Vaughn is out the mix, the Heels may go after Georgia scorer Ahmed Hill, the No. 33 overall player and eighth-rated 2-guard.




He’s an intriguing prospect who has had a good summer. I saw him play well at adidas and at the LeBron camp and he had a strong showing at NBA camp. He has a strong body and the ability to score on the perimeter and in the paint or post up to get buckets down low. I like his skill level and IQ and his body. When you factor all those things, he has a chance to move up depending on how strong he finishes the summer. Right now he’s at 34, but he has the ability to crack the top 25.




When most coaches recruit, they think about finding the right fit and need in a prospect. When you talk about fit and need, it usually revolves around a player’s offense, skill level, size at the position and basketball IQ. Some coaches will look at defensive attributes depending on their scheme, but in large part coaches recruit more for offense, IQ and athleticism because they can teach defense later in the process. It’s harder to teach a guy to be more skilled or athletic than it is to teach defense.

I look at scouting through a similar lense when evaluating players for the ESPN 100 rankings. You look for attributes and qualities that will make a good offensive player a strong defender, whether it’s his ability to rebound, stay in front of guys or take charges. For big guys, I have put an emphasis on how they defend ball screens, cover the low post and hedge out as well as skills and IQ.


Senior small forward Kelly Oubre (Fort Bend Travis/Findlay Prep) had a strong feeling he was going to make some cuts to his list of suitors shortly after the conclusion of the Nike Peach Jam this past weekend.

That feeling became a reality Wednesday morning as Oubre, the No. 20 player in the ESPN 100, trimmed his massive list down to eight schools.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The adidas Invitational is in its fifth year of competition and boasts a notable list of alums, headlined by recent NBA first-round picks Andre Drummond, Cody Zeller and Shabazz Muhammad. This year’s event began on Wednesday and will conclude on Sunday with the championship game, which will air live on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET.

Thursday marked the first full day of competition and the players’ intensity was apparent from the start, with top-10 junior Stephen Zimmerman and Florida recruit Brandone Francis among the day’s elite performers.

Here’s a look at who stood out among the star-studded list of participants on Thursday.

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No. 4 Trey Lyles down to four

July, 12, 2013
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ESPN 100 power forward Trey Lyles (Indianapolis/Arsenal Tech) has narrowed his choices to four schools, according to a post on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-8 Lyles tweeted a picture of the four remaining schools on Instagram on Thursday night. Florida, Butler, Kentucky and Louisville will vie for his services after he eliminated Duke and UCLA.

Lyles is currently in North Augusta, S.C. playing for Spiece Indy Heat in the Nike EYBL finals at the Peach Jam.
Florida coach Billy Donovan is halfway around the world right now, but he received some great recruiting news from right in his back yard.

Donovan is in the Czech Republic leading USA Basketball’s U19 team into action in the FIBA U19 World Championships. Play began on Thursday, which just happens to be the same day Donovan landed a commitment from ESPN 100 guard Brandone Francis out of Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla.

[+] EnlargeBrandone Francis
Courtesy of adidasCombo guard Brandone Francis will bring a versatile game to Florida in 2014.
The nation’s No. 34 rising senior, Francis joins ESPN 100 point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) in the Gators’ 2014 class, which is now ranked No. 5 in the country. What makes Francis such a highly coveted recruit and productive player is that he is one of the few players in the 2014 class who excels both on and off the ball.

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The Florida Gators are on the board in the Class of 2015 after receiving a pledge from ESPN 60 PF Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, Fla./Suwannee) Monday night. Hayes chose to play for Billy Donovan over interest from Alabama, Kansas State and Miami (Fla.), among others. Hayes recruiting was really starting to pick up of late but when the Gators stepped up with an offer, he knew it was time to pull the trigger on his decision.

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ESPN 60 PF picks Florida

June, 17, 2013
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Class of 2015 power forward Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, Fla./Suwannee) put an early end to his recruitment on Monday with a verbal pledge to Florida. The news was first reported by www.scouthoops.com.

Hayes is ranked No. 58 in the recently released ESPN 60 for the Class of 2015. He is the first recruit for head coach Billy Donovan from that class.

Donovan's unique recruiting opportunity 

June, 11, 2013
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Editor's note: This is excerpted from this week's Starting 5 column. Click here to read the rest of Dave Telep's weekly basketball recruiting column. Insider

If you recall, last year Julius Randle went out of his way to say how much he enjoyed playing U18 USA Basketball for Billy Donovan, the team's head coach. The pair won a FIBA Americas championship together and helped Team USA qualify for this year's U19 world championship.

Well, this year Donovan returns to coach the U19 team along with VCU's Shaka Smart and Virginia's Tony Bennett. Like Randle last year when he was the only recruitable player on the roster, rising seniors Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor are set to try out for the squad.

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Class of 2014 point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) has committed to the Florida Gators, and the style of play is not only a good fit but Chiozza will rapidly improve under the tutelage of another point guard -- Florida coach Billy Donovan.


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Florida gets commit from 2014 PG 

May, 14, 2013
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Prior to the spring, junior Chris Chiozza (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) was mentioned as a fringe Top 100 player. Following a series of standout performances, Chiozza’s stock soared. On Tuesday, he accepted an offer from the Florida Gators to follow the point guard lineage in Gainesville.

Ohio State and Memphis provided the most competition for the 2014 defensive guard with a passing bend. Chiozza averaged 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds as a junior.

Florida, which scouted Chiozza extensively in April, offered, and the guard didn’t mull it over too long before calling his recruitment off.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Still somewhat of a busy week, despite the fact that Florida has finished the spring semester and there's a break before the first summer semester begins.

ESPN provided a wrapup of spring practices around the SEC. Here's the breakdown of the Gators' spring. There are still several important questions that have to be answered.

One of those questions surrounds quarterback Jeff Driskel. How much has he improved and will that make the Gators' passing offense any more potent than it was in 2012, when it ranked 114th nationally? History seems to be on Driskel's side. All of UF's starting quarterbacks going back to Shane Matthews showed improvement from their first to second seasons as a starter. Sometimes it was dramatic, sometimes not.

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