NCB On The Trail: Florida Gators

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Remember, playing time is earned!

Because the Gators are losing PG Scottie Wilbekin and SF Casey Prather after a tremendous season, there is room for Brandone Francis.

He will come in and see some significant minutes as a freshman due to his scoring skills and strong frame. Francis has the unique ability to play the small forward and shooting guard, as well as the point guard spot in a pinch.

His season was up and down this year, but he looked good at the Nike Hoop Summit event last week. He really needs to work on his outside shooting as it will complement his drive game.

I see him playing early. The question will be can be hold on to his minutes.
In order to return to the NCAA tournament, a team needs contributions from both returning players and incoming recruits. Here's a look at Florida and its chances of dancing again in 2015.

Quick references:
2013-14 roster
2014 recruiting

Possible 2014-15 starting five:
G: Kasey Hill
G: Michael Frazier II
F: Dorian Finney-Smith
F: Devin Robinson
C: Chris Walker


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Roundtable: Identifying 2014's sleepers 

March, 4, 2014
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As the 2014 class winds down its final season of high school basketball, the ESPN 100 has been analyzed in virtually every way possible. We’ve broken down the top prospects, picked out the best fits, projected both the immediate impact players, and even forecast those who are likely to show the most improvement over their college careers.

But now we are giving each member of the RecruitingNation team one last chance to go on record with a prospect they believe in, a sleeper they expect to be better than most are projecting, whether it's right away or over time.

Here’s a look at who the experts have their eyes on:


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Freshmen might be the talk of college basketball this season, but if you are paying attention you are starting to notice that experience counts.

The new No. 1 team in the country, Florida, starts a quartet of seniors in Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young and Will Yeguete.

The leading candidate for this year’s Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player is also a senior, as Creighton’s Doug McDermott is averaging 26 points and almoist 7 rebounds while shooting high percentages from the 3-point line, free-throw line and the field.

So while Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Joel Embiid and Tyler Ennis could all bolt for the NBA -- only to be replaced by the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner, Cliff Alexander, Tyus Jones and Emmanuel Mudiay -- it might actually be others from the 2014 class, who might not necessarily have the same level of instant success, but nonetheless go on to make their mark on college basketball by staying longer and getting better at each step along the way.

Here’s a look at some of the most likely candidates:


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Roundtable: Must-get prospects for 2015 

February, 25, 2014
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With the vast majority of the top prospects in the ESPN 100 now off the board, the focus of the recruiting world is now rapidly shifting to the 2015 class where programs from all levels of college basketball are looking to position themselves for a successful recruiting cycle.

Some are already ahead of the curve. LSU landed a huge early score in Ben Simmons (Melbourne, Australia/Montverde Academy), Arizona has its next big-time guard in Tyler Dorsey (Los Angeles/St. John Bosco) and Syracuse has a pair of ESPN 60 products in Malachi Richardson (Hamilton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Tyler Lydon (Pine Plains, N.Y./New Hampton).

Memphis, Michigan State, Marquette, and Illinois have early commitments from ESPN 60 products as well, while the Fighting Illini are joined by Connecticut, Washington, Villanova, New Mexico, Rutgers, and Mississippi State in already having two verbal commitments.

With the 2015 dominoes beginning to align, we asked our team of Recruiting Nation experts to pinpoint which programs have already established their top priority, or “must-have recruit,” in the coming year.


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The high school basketball season is in full swing and some of the nation’s best are playing well and leading their teams. Others are extremely productive and having great individual performances.

There's also a small group of players who are good now with a chance of big-time growth.

As top-ranked players, they have talent. It's what they do with it that will determine their ultimate success. To reach their potential, it’s a matter of two important questions. Does the prospect have the necessary tools to perform at a high level? And will he do what is necessary from an effort standpoint to be great?

Let's take a look at players who are playing at a high level now and who have plenty of potential to be even better down the road.

ESPN No. 2 Myles Turner
The Texas native has a combination of size and skill, and he's a shot blocker with mobility. Turner was one block shy of a triple double, as he had 29 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks last week against Homeschool Christian.


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Florida adds flexibility 

December, 11, 2013
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It’s as easy as 1,2,3 because that’s what Florida coach Billy Donovan has put together in the nation’s No. 11 class -- a trio of prospects who play point guard, shooting guard and small forward. This group brings a unique blend of positional players who certainly are not married to one position. They are extremely strong on the perimeter and demonstrate interchange parts in their performances.


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

1. Kentucky
Dakari Johnson, Julius Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress make up the most powerful frontcourt in the game. They can score, block shots and rebound with anyone.

2. Arizona
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon.
This threesome is strong, long and explosive, and they use those gifts on both ends of the floor.

3. Syracuse
C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Baye Keita.
This bunch has both length and girth while protecting the basket and finishing inside.

4. Florida
Patric Young, transfer Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech) and Will Yeguete.
If Freshman Chris Walker becomes eligible in December this group could do serious damage together. They are extremely productive and could be dominant on the inside if Walker is playing.

Player of the Year
Marcus Smart. Nothing seems to faze this All-American. When you easily could have walked away from the college game and you come back, that means you are extremely confident in your ability. He has put up terrific numbers across the board, dominated the action at times and makes his team win -- that's what a POY does.

Florida announces signing class

November, 21, 2013
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Florida coach Billy Donovan announced his 2014-15 recruiting class on Thursday as the early signing period came to an end.

Signing with the Gators were three ESPN 100 prospects: SG Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, Fla./Arlington Country Day), SF Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch) and PG Chris Chiozza (Memphis/White Station). Donovan also will welcome SG Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) as a preferred walk-on.

"We are really excited about these guys and their future at the University of Florida," Donovan said. "They all have tremendous potential, and we're glad they're Gators."
With seven ESPN 100 commitments in as many days, the last week has been incredibly busy on the recruiting wire, but the best could still be yet to come with Reid Travis, Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all likely to make decisions in time to sign during the early signing period, which begins next week.

In case you missed any of last week’s headlines, here’s a rundown: Devin Robinson chose Florida over Indiana on Wednesday; later that night, big man Michael Humphrey picked Stanford over Arizona; Devin Booker started a busy Thursday by picking Kentucky over Missouri; James Blackmon Jr. pulled a surprise by spurning Kentucky to recommit to Indiana; Kevon Looney’s commitment to UCLA was equally surprising, with most predicting Duke, Florida or Tennessee; former UCLA pledge Trevon Bluiett picked Xavier over Butler and Michigan State on Friday; and Trey Lyles chose Kentucky over Louisville on Tuesday.

That flurry of activity, along with the upcoming announcements, has brought more clarity to a lot of top national programs. Here’s a look at some of the implications:


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Small forward Devin Robinson (Chesterfield, Va./Christchurch School), the No. 28 player in the ESPN 100, has committed to Florida over Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. His pledge gives coach Billy Donovan a third ESPN 100 performer in the Class of 2014, alongside No. 27 Brandone Francis and No. 42 Chris Chiozza.

Why did Robinson commit to Florida and how will he fit with the Gators? Let's break it down:


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Class rankings analysis: Oct. 30 

October, 30, 2013
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As we come down to the wire for basketball's early signing period in November, many of the best players in the nation have finished their visits and are ready to make their decisions. Here’s a look at how some of the recruiting classes are shaping up as we get closer to the signing period:

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Stanley Johnson is in the process of figuring out his recruitment, as Arizona, Kentucky, USC, Florida and Oregon are all on his final list of schools.

Stanley Johnson
Courtesy of NikeStanley Johnson has always been a powerful presence, but it's his motor that has seen the biggest improvement.
Since his freshman season at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, he has been a bigger and stronger prospect than most players.

Under the tutelage of Gary McKnight and his staff, Johnson has made consistent strides as of one the best in his class. In our most recent rankings, he jumped up from No. 12 to No. 9.

Let’s break down what makes him special:

Power and motor: Johnson has always had a good frame and physique, but in this past year he has refined his college-ready body. He is more powerful than most players, and that becomes a factor on every finish, defensive stand and rebound. But his motor might be the area he has improved the most. He always showed up and played, but over the past year he is trying to dominate with a consistent effort, which is rare among top players. His effort is not just limited to scoring because he is also getting back on defense, being alert and active on each play and trying to own the glass. He credits former Oakland Soldier AAU teammate and current Arizona Wildcat Aaron Gordon for his motor. "Aaron set a great example of what it means to give it your all. I am thankful it rubbed off on me.”


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USA developmental team camp recap 

October, 6, 2013
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The USA Basketball Developmental National Team minicamp featured some of the nation's best high school talent representing the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016. Head coach Don Showalter and his staff put the players through numerous intense and competitive drills, controlled scrimmages and game situations in this four-workout, two-day minicamp.

Note: ESPN 100 No. 1 overall player Jahlil Okafor didn't play on Day 1 after rolling his ankle during a one-on-one in the post drill.

Here are a few players who were impressive this weekend from the ESPN 100, 60 and 25 rankings.

ESPN 100 Standouts

Best Motor
Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity)
C, 6-foot-11, 225 pounds
Considering: Kansas, Ohio State, Texas, Duke, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, Oklahoma State

Turner's talent and shot blocking is well-documented, but his consistent motor also makes the big fella special. Regardless of the outcome of the possession, Turner never stops playing. He runs, jumps and competes at a high level, which makes him stand out.


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Notebook: Bruins host big visitor 

September, 20, 2013
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Truth? It’s not a big campus visited weekend. Take a look at the pedestrian football schedule and you’ll see what I mean. However, there are a few stragglers on campus this weekend, some of which are crucial to a few programs this year and next.


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