While most of the Florida Gators basketball team has been on campus this summer training ahead of the 2014-15 season, one first-year player has been noticeably absent.
Four-star guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was unable to join his teammates this summer while awaiting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
A native of the Dominican Republic, the approval process took longer for Francis, who told OnlyGators.com on Friday evening that he has now received the proverbial thumbs up to enroll at Florida on Sunday, Aug. 24.
“It’s a great day, great day to be a Gator,” he said in an interview with OnlyGators.com Friday night. “Today I got the word that I’m able to enroll in school, and I will be there in nine days on the 24th.
“As an international kid, [the NCAA] wanted to look into my playing history more than some others, but I knew everything would come through fine. There was nothing wrong, they just like to be extra careful on guys coming from outside the United States.”
Since graduating from Arlington Country Day School, Francis has been in touch with the Florida coaching staff to make sure he was doing everything he needed to prepare for his freshman season.
“The coaches have been talking me and helping me through this process,” he said. “[Waiting] didn’t really bother me at all. I’m ready to get [on campus] and be the best that I can be.”
To that end, Francis spent a part of the summer in Boston, Massachusetts, working out with veteran boxing trainer Marty Farrell at The Club by George Foreman III. Standing 6-foot-5, Francis estimates that he gained 10 pounds of muscle and now believes he checks in at about 210 pounds.
“I was in Boston getting ready with my trainer, Marty Farrell, a retired boxer. We were doing boxing workouts, getting me ready for the next level,” he said.
“I’ve been working a lot on my body, my conditioning. I am focused on changing my body completely [to be stronger] because I know the next level is much more intense. I want to be in the best shape I can so I am ready to perform right away.”
No matter how physically ready Francis might be for Gators basketball practice, he knows that playing time is at a premium in Gainesville, Florida. His goal is to take things one day at a time from the moment he steps on campus.
“I’ve got to go there and earn playing time. It’s about me putting the work in on the court, going out there and earning my minutes,” he said. “It’s a great situation. I could have a chance to play a lot of minutes as a freshman, but I got to go get it. It’s on me now.”
Francis, the nation’s 35th-ranked player according to Rivals, is excited to don No. 2 for Florida next season. He only hopes he can have as successful career as his idol, fellow Dominican Republic native and former Gators forward Al Horford.
“I’m ready to represent the Orange and Blue to the highest level I can,” Francis said.
“I want to go out there and help my team win games every night. I can’t wait to be in the O’Dome and see the Rowdy Reptiles and all that. I’m ready to out there and represent Florida well.”
Francis is one of six new faces joining the Gators basketball team. Other members of his 2014 recruiting class include five-star F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA), four-star point guard Chris Chiozza and walk-on G Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, GA). Florida has also added two transfers in redshirt senior center Jon Horford (via Michigan) and sophomore F John Egbunu (via South Florida); Jon Horford will be eligible immediately, while Egbunu must sit a season due to NCAA transfer rules.
— Brandone Francis (@Brand1F) August 4, 2014
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