Florida Gators: Anthony Bennett

Bennett won't do the Gator chomp 

May, 5, 2012
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One down, two more to go before we have a winner.

On Friday, power forward Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) tidied up his remaining list of suitors and removed the Florida Gators from consideration. The Gators, for a long time, had been rumored to be the clubhouse leader.

“At first I really liked Florida but when [Brad] Beal decided to leave it affected me, cause I was looking forward to playing with him,” Bennett said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida signed wing prospect DeVon Walker (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven H.S.) on Friday, quickly filling the scholarship of Bradley Beal, who departs for the NBA.

"[Beal] had an amazing, amazing impact on the program and the team, so I wouldn't mind copying him," Walker said just after signing his letter of intent during a ceremony at his school.

As he assisted Beal in assessing his draft stock, UF coach Billy Donovan made a late push for Walker, a well-rounded swingman who averaged 23.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists as a senior.

"He came a little bit harder towards the end when it got closer to signing," Walker said. "Coach Donovan said Brad was in the process of deciding to go to the league. But before Brad had even decided, [Donovan] had already told me I had a scholarship and everything was good. So I don't really think it came down to Brad leaving."

Walker, who has grown to 6-foot-6 1/2, 187 pounds and can play shooting guard and small forward, was at one point committed to Central Florida. He chose the Gators over Alabama, Florida State and Connecticut.

"It came down to Alabama and Florida, and I really loved both programs," Walker said. "Coach [Anthony] Grant at Alabama, he has something special going on. I feel that their program is one of the best programs in the country, and Florida is also.

"My decision came down to just being closer to home and being able to have my family come to a lot of games, being comfortable at UF's campus, because I've been up there the most times."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan was upbeat on Friday during the news conference announcing Bradley Beal's decision to enter the NBA Draft.

[+] EnlargeBradley Beal
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesGators coach Billy Donovan said he will miss Bradley Beal's team-first attitude and work ethic.
He is obviously sad to see Beal leave, but Donovan shouldn't be devastated for two reasons: He knows things could have been a lot worse, and he had been planning for just this situation.

As the season ended with a loss to Louisville in the Elite Eight, there was speculation the Gators would lose four of their five starters. Erving Walker is graduating, but Beal, Patric Young and Kenny Boynton were also considering leaving. Young and Boynton, however, elected to stay, which means the Gators will have one of the Southeastern Conference's top scorers and big men on the floor in 2012-13.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Little-used forward Walter Pitchford is leaving the Florida basketball program to transfer to a school closer to his home in Michigan because of a family situation, the school announced Wednesday.

The 6-foot-10, 221-pound Pitchford played in just 13 games and scored just six points. He went 3-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-3 from 3-point range. He grabbed four rebounds.

"It’s definitely the best thing for him and his family, just with some of his extenuating circumstances," UF coach Billy Donovan said in a statement. "Right now, he just needs to be near his family. They need him home and they want him home.”

Pitchford's departure means the Gators have 12 players on scholarship (including three incoming freshmen), one shy of the NCAA limit. UF hopes to still add power forward recruit Anthony Bennett, who said he will announce his school choice in May. Guard Bradley Beal also is considering leaving early for the NBA Draft and has until April 29 to decide.
Billy Donovan and his staff at Florida have already assembled a top-25 recruiting class and arguably one of the top incoming backcourts in the Class of 2012 with Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, N.C./United Faith Christian Cademy), Michael Frazier (Tampa, Fla./Montverde Academy) and Dillon Graham (Orlando, Fla./First Academy).

[+] EnlargeFlorida's Billy Donovan
AP Photo/Phil SandlinBilly Donovan is determined to land a big man in this class.
With all three players having signed their letters of intent in November, Donovan and his staff have been fixated on adding frontcourt talent for several months and appear to be in good shape with a number of the nation’s best remaining interior talents including Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ontario/Findlay College Prep), who reportedly has the Gators near the top of his list.

Donovan spent Wednesday looking at two of his other top targets in the frontcourt, both of whom star for New Hampshire prep schools.

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The AggreGator: Basketball rankings

January, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- We've got a whole lot of rankin' going on. We'll start with future Gators before leaping back to the present tense for the current Florida squad.

Class of 2012 updated ESPNU 100
Florida only has one player in our top 100, point guard Braxton Ogbueze, who fell from No. 35 to No. 46 in our latest rankings. The big man on the board is Florida's top target, power forward Anthony Bennett, who is ranked No. 6 in the nation.

Class Rankings: Arizona on top, Gators in the mix (Insider)
Florida checks in at No. 25 with Ogbueze and a pair of shooting guards from in-state in Michael Frazier and Dillon Graham. Look for a big surge if Billy D gets that big man he's after.

Bilas Index: Kentucky claims No. 1 (Insider)
ESPN Insider Jay Bilas has Week 6 of the Bilas Index, ranking the top 68 college basketball teams in the country. This week, he hasn't changed his thoughts on the Gators too much, noting how UF is having success without a whole lot of size.

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The AggreGator: Basketball season

January, 13, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With football season sadly in the rear-view mirror, it's time to devote more attention to hoops. No. 19 Florida tries to break its road losing skein at South Carolina on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (you can watch the game here on ESPN3). Here are some Gator-related links from ESPN to get you in the mood.

King: Top sixth men thrive coming off the bench
In the past, being in the starting lineup was considered a status symbol among players. But these days, substituting is becoming chic as top players from some of the nation's best programs make their mark off the bench. Florida's Mike Rosario makes Jason King's top 10.

Player Rankings: How top prospects stack up in PER (Insider)
Matt Giles looks at how Chad Ford’s top 10 prospects in the 2012 NBA draft stack up in John Hollinger's college basketball player power rankings. Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal ranks among the SEC's elite.

Power Rankings: Syracuse, Kentucky, North Carolina lead the way
Florida drops one spot to No. 15.

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Anthony Bennett, No. 7 overall in the ESPNU 100 and the best remaining available post player, has narrowed his choices down to five -- Florida, Kentucky, UNLV, Oregon and Washington.

"I feel like I've taken a step forward in my recruiting process," the Canadian native said. "I plan on making my decision in April after going on my visits. The pressure now has been lifted because I can now deal with just these five schools and watch the teams play and the coaches coach their teams.


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Anthony Bennett narrows it down to five 

January, 9, 2012
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Over the weekend, Mike George of CIA Bounce relayed some Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) news. The No. 7 overall prospect in the ESPNU 100 trimmed his list to five programs --Washington, Florida, UNLV, Oregon and Kentucky.

Bennett trimmed off Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio State.

The Canadian is an athletic, explosive, hybrid 4-man who has been able to combine strength and explosion with a firmed up stroke from 3-point range. The combination crafted him into one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2012.

Bennett’s recruitment has been slow developing. He was never going to sign early and still needs to shore up his academics. He has visits remaining and plenty of time to investigate his schools.

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Updates on unsigned ESPNU 100 recruits 

November, 17, 2011
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The early period concluded Wednesday night but there’s a chance a letter of intent or two could be post-dated and arrive within the next two weeks. However, outside of that possibility, the period is over. That means its time to check in with the big dogs and take a pulse of what’s up with the remaining ESPNU 100 players.

No. 1 Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) sat back and watched the early period come and go without a decision. This was exactly what we expected him to do. The biggest development in his recruitment might be the early season play of UCLA. The Bruins, the perceived clubhouse leader, dropped their first two games. Everyone’s asking what this means for UCLA and Shabazz. The reality is, Ben Howland’s pitch now becomes stronger: “We need you” is something I’m sure he’s heard by now and now UCLA can cite examples of why. That’s the only silver lining in the early season losses if you can call it that.

No. 7 Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) had no intention of signing early and he followed through with that. His list is long. I’d say pay attention to Florida, Kentucky and Connecticut but remember, his list is long and he’ll be armed with the capacity to take five official visits.

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