Rather than keep the Florida Gators’ 2015 signing class from falling apart, new head coach Michael White is now tasked with ensuring he does not lose it completely.
Late Tuesday night, four-star power forward signee Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) confirmed that he has officially asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent with Florida and will seek to begin his college basketball career elsewhere.
ESPN.com’s Jeff Borzello was first to report Dickerson’s decision, which comes on the heels of four-star guard KeVaughn Allen (North Little Rock, AR) announcing he will make his intentions known on Thursday. Most expect Allen to ask out of his NLI as well, leaving the Gators without their two top-rated signees for the 2015 recruiting period.
Dickerson and Allen are ranked No. 70 and No. 60, respectively, on the 247Sports Composite. They are listed as No. 54 and No. 51, respectively, on the ESPN 100.
White said during his introductory press conference on Monday that he had reached out to all four UF signees and “met a couple in person.” A source close to the program tells OnlyGators.com that White has spoken to Allen at least twice – once in person.
The other two members of Florida’s class – four-star signees small forward Keith Stone (Deerfield Beach, FL) and center Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL) – are expected to remain committed to playing for the Gators.
According to Russ Wood of Rivals, White and Hayes met for two hours on Tuesday. The result of that conversation was Hayes being “happy” to remain committed to Florida. It is believed that Stone will take a visit to Gainesville, Florida, this weekend.
“I’m not into begging,” White admitted on Monday. “I think this place, to a certain extent, sells itself. I think all four of these guys obviously chose the University of Florida for a lot of the right reasons, really all the right reasons. Florida sells itself. This institution sells itself. But they wanted to play for Coach [Billy] Donovan. I understand them having second thoughts. I understand that. I appreciate that. I accept it.”
Florida, which once needed to find two scholarships just to sign its 2015 class, wound up one below the NCAA maximum of 13 after three players with eligibility remaining departed in the offseason (to go along with one midseason transfer and one graduate). The Gators are now in danger of being seriously short on scholarship players in White’s first season. With Dickerson gone and Allen expected to leave, Florida will have three open scholarships entering the 2015-16 campaign.
According to the NCAA, an NLI is a “contract between a prospective student-athlete and a school, not an agreement between individuals.” The Gators are under no obligation to release a player from his NLI if a coach leaves, unless it was promised during the recruiting process of said athlete. Nevertheless, White promised he would not be hold a player’s eligibility just to keep him in the class.
“If those guys want to be here, I’d love to have them. If not, we’d love to help them find the right place for them,” he said.