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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Donovan signs elite 2013 class for UF

By Michael DiRocco

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Signing two of the best players in the state has given Florida coach Billy Donovan one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.

And it could get even better.

The Gators signed PG Kasey Hill (Eustis, Fla./Montverde Academy) and PF Chris Walker (Bonifay, Fla./Holmes County) on Wednesday. ESPN.com rates them as the top two players in the state of Florida, and they rank No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, in the ESPN 100. ESPN also ranks the 6-foot Hill the nation’s No. 2 point guard and the 6-10 Walker the nation’s No. 4 power forward.

Landing Hill and Walker gives Florida the No. 5 signing class in ESPN’s basketball recruiting rankings. But the Gators could climb up the list if they land any of the three players they are still pursuing. None are expected to sign during the early signing period, which ends Nov. 21.

SF Jabari Parker of Chicago/Simeon Career Academy, the nation’s No. 2 player, has visited UF, Michigan State and Duke and has several more visits planned. He is expected to announce his choice in December.

UF is also still in contention for 6-9 PF Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood Christian) and 6-10 C Dakari Johnson (New York/Montverde Academy). They are Nos. 4 and 12 players in the ESPN 100, respectively.

Hill is a versatile point guard who can be a big-time scorer and a facilitator -- in the same game. He’s athletic and can drive to the basket and finish at the rim and is a solid defender. Walker is an explosive but raw player who is a good defender around the basket. He’s a bit undersized (195 pounds) but is very athletic. He needs some refining but has the potential to be a very good shot-blocker.

Florida loses three seniors at the end of the season (G Kenny Boynton, G Mike Rosario and F Erik Murphy). In addition to Hill and Walker, the Gators will add two other players to the lineup next season. F/C Damontre Harris and F Dorian Finney-Smith are sitting out the 2012-13 season because of NCAA transfer rules. If no one else leaves the program, the Gators would be at 12 scholarships, one shy of the NCAA limit, in 2013-14.