NCB On The Trail: Brandone Francis

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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.
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:

2016's Lamonte Turner turning heads 

December, 22, 2013
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – One of the many top prospects at the 12th annual Chick-fil-A Classic Holiday Basketball Tournament is guard Lamonte Turner (Huntsville, Ala./Jacksonville, Fla., Arlington Country Day).


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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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Scouting late bloomers in Las Vegas 

July, 28, 2013
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Editor's note: This is the latest entry in Dave Telep's July Road Trip blog. Throughout the month, Dave will check in each day he's on the road while covering some of the biggest basketball recruiting events in the country. He'll let you know where he is, offer some highlights of the day and give a quick look at what's next.

LAS VEGAS -- There's no better way to spend a day (of basketball) in Las Vegas than checking out leads and evaluating late bloomers. For me, Saturday was one of the best days of the month. Spending time crossing guys off the hit list is a recruiting nerd’s nirvana.

Here are some nuggets from Saturday’s action at the elite AAU events in Las Vegas: the adidas Super 64, the Las Vegas Fab 48 and the Las Vegas Classic.

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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.


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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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Nine events to watch in July 

July, 1, 2013
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July is a key month in recruiting as a number of high-profile events give coaches an up-close look at potential targets. Elite recruits will want to put forth their best effort to enhance their chances at garnering offers from college’s elite, while under-the-radar prospects can use the extra exposure to generate new buzz.

Let’s take a look at the best hoops events July has to offer.

[+] EnlargeKevon Looney
Courtesy of NikeBasketball.comKevon Looney and other top recruits have used July events like the LeBron James Skills Academy to improve their recruiting stock.
LeBron James Skills Academy
When:
July 5-9
Where: Las Vegas
Why it’s important: This Nike event allows 80 of the nation’s top high school prospects an opportunity to display their talent in front of media and scouts from every NBA team.

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Notebook: ESPN 100 recruiting updates 

June, 28, 2013
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This week’s Friday recruiting notebook is chock full of updates on ESPN 100 prospects, including commitments for Florida and Louisville, a visitor for Michigan State, what’s next for North Carolina, who NC State is targeting and why No. 10 recruit Myles Turner continues to improve his stock.

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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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