Updated at 5:30 p.m.
Going back to the Montverde Academy pipeline for the third time in the last four recruiting cycles, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan landed a big verbal commitment on Sunday when four-star power forward Noah Dickerson (Montverde, FL) announced his intention to join the program next season.
At 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Dickerson is rated as the No. 56 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals. A one-time Georgetown commitment, he changed his mind in June and reopened his recruitment, listening to pitches from a number of schools including Florida.
In the end, Dickerson decided to play for Donovan and the Gators.
Sunday evening, Dickerson expanded on those comments in an interview with OnlyGators.com.
“I’ve been a Gator fan since I was really young. Football was my first sport back when I was little, and I remember watching them play football, always wanting to be a Gator. What really helped me make this decision was Coach Donovan, 100 percent,” he said.
“The more I saw how much Florida wanted me throughout July, the more I just started to know it was the school for me.”
Donovan played a big role in Dickerson’s commitment but so did Florida assistant coach Rashon Burno, who was hot on the big man’s trail throughout the summer. The Gators like his ability to score in the low post and rebound on both ends of the court.
“Coach Burno was my recruiter, and I talked to him all the time. He was always calling to check on me. The entire staff really helped recruit me; I talked to all the assistant coaches. They all made me feel like I was at home, and I became more confident in my decision,” he said.
“They like the way I post up and they want to keep me posting up, but they also say that I have the skill to go out on the outside a little bit. They’re going to play me in and out. [My jump shot] is a lot better. Now I can actually say I can shoot. Before I couldn’t even shoot but now I can say I’m a pretty good jump shooter. I’ve been working on it a lot.”
Dickerson could join two other Montverde Academy graduates on the Gators if both players are still around next season. Junior guard Michael Frazier II was part of UF’s 2012 recruiting class, and point guard Kasey Hill joined the program last season.
His addition puts the Gators two scholarships over the NCAA limit of 13 for the 2015-16 season. He is the third member of a sizable recruiting class that also includes four-star G KeVaughn Allen (Little Rock, AR) and three-star PF Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL).
In addition to those three, Florida will have transfer John Egbunu eligible for the 2015-16 campaign after he takes an NCAA-mandated redshirt year in 2014-15.
The Gators have also been after three-star forward Keith Stone (Deerfield Beach, FL) this summer, and Borzello notes that Florida will continue its pursuit of the prospect despite its current scholarship situation.
UF is managing its scholarships knowing it will lose sophomore PF Chris Walker at season’s end to the 2015 NBA Draft. A number of other pieces could fall for the Gators that would affect their scholarship count including transfers and medical hardships. Florida had two players sit out the majority of the 2013-14 season due to injury.