Brandone Francis cleared to enroll at Florida

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.”

Continue Reading » Brandone Francis cleared to enroll at Florida

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Florida Gators G/F DeVon Walker tears ACL, likely to miss 2014-15 season

Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker “is expected to miss the 2014-15 season” after tearing his ACL, according to CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello.

A spokesman for the team confirmed Walker’s injury to OnlyGators.com early Monday morning.

Walker, who transferred from Florida last offseason over play time concerns but eventually decided to return to the Gators in a reserve role, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games in 2013-14.

Though he averaged 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game last season, Walker came up big for Florida in some tough circumstances in Southeastern Conference play when he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch. He also played solid defense throughout the year. Additionally, there were three separate five-game stretches during the season in which he averaged 20 minutes or more per game.

Walker being out of commission does not spell doom for the Gators though he was expected to be part of Florida’s regular rotation as a reserve at the two and three. Junior Michael Frazier II returns as the starting shooting guard for UF.

The Gators hope to have redshirt sophomore G Dillon Graham back in the fold after he underwent season-ending surgery to repair bone spurs in his hips. Redshirt junior G Eli Carter should also be available for Florida now more than a year removed from a broken leg suffered during the 2012-13 campaign that sidelined him for most of last year.

UF’s three-member 2014 recruiting class also includes a pair of wing players in five-star F Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) and four-star G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL). Though both were expected to get run next season, there are now even more minutes to go around.

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New Gators basketball players pick numbers

Updated on July 1 at 1:15 p.m.

In the process of finalizing the roster information for 2014-15, the Florida Gators have announced the uniform numbers for the six new players set to play for the first time next season, many of which finally stepped on campus as students on Monday.

TRANSFERS*
» 5 – Alex Murphy (Wakefield, RI), four-star redshirt junior forward
* Murphy joined the Gators in the spring of 2014 from Duke. He will be eligible to play in the spring of 2015 barring the approval of a NCAA waiver.
» 15 – John Egbunu (Fort Walton Beach, FL), four-star sophomore center
* Egbunu joins Florida as a transfer from USF. He will not be eligible to play until the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
» 21 – Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, MI), three-star redshirt senior power forward
* Horford joins UF as a graduate transfer from Michigan.

FRESHMEN
» 2 – Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL), four-star guard
» 3 – Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA), five-star forward
» 11 – Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN), four-star point guard
» 24 – Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, GA), preferred walk-on guard

CHANGES^
» 14 – Lexx Edwards (Orlando, FL), junior guard
^ Edwards previously wore No. 11, which was taken by Chiozza

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Michigan F Jon Horford transfers to Florida

Updated on Tuesday, May 13 at 5 p.m.

Forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators standout Al Horford, has decided to play out his final year of eligibility in Gainesville, Florida, according to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman.

Entering his redshirt senior campaign, Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be eligible to play immediately due to the NCAA’s graduate transfer exemption after receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan in May.

The school announced his transfer on May 13, noting that he started graduate-level classes when the Summer A semester began on May 12.

Florida has a crowded frontcourt in 2014-15 but should be able to find a fair amount of playing time for Horford. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per contest last season and originally decided to transfer to see more time on the court.

That may not be possible with the Gators, which will have sophomore Chris Walker, redshirt senior Damontre Harris, redshirt juniors Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy, and five-star incoming freshman Devin Robinson in the frontcourt.

Walker is likely to start at power forward or center next to either Harris or Murphy with Finney-Smith playing small forward. Horford will give Florida a big body and great energy off the bench to spell Walker and Harris but could see an uptick in playing time should Harris once again fall out of favor with the program.

With Horford’s transfer, UF has filled its final scholarship for the 2014-15 campaign.

Four-star guard Brandone Francis and four-star point guard Chris Chiozza are the other two incoming freshman aside from Robinson. All three first-year players are ranked among the top 42 prospects in the nation for 2014, according to Rivals.com.

Murphy will not be eligible until the spring semester after transferring in the middle of the 2013-14 season; however, the Gators plan to petition the NCAA for a waiver that would allow the legacy to play at the start of the campaign.

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Florida snags five-star 2014 F Devin Robinson

Head coach Billy Donovan is slowly but surely piecing together an impressive 2014 recruiting class for the Florida Gators, boosting his haul Wednesday by receiving a verbal commitment from five-star forward Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA).

Robinson announced his choice at his high school, picking UF over Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

The third unanimous top-50 player to join Florida’s 2014 class, Robinson (6-foot-8, 180-pounds) is a talented shot maker who is efficient from long range, drives to the hoop with ease and spreads the ball around when defenders converge.

He is also a solid perimeter defender who will become even more dominant once he adds some much-needed bulk.

Robinson, the 20th ranked prospect in the Rivals150, is now the Gators’ top-rated recruit for the cycle. He is joined in the 2014 class by four-stars guard Brandon Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN). Francis is ranked 26th in the nation, while Chiozza checks in at No. 38 overall.

Florida has also gained a 2014 pledge from G Zach Hodskins (Milton, GA), who will join the Gators next season as a preferred walk-on.

With four seniors set to graduate, UF is assured of having at least one additional scholarship available for 2014.

Should freshman PG Kasey Hill or incoming power forward Chris Walker declare early for the NBA Draft – or other players transfer out of the program – Donovan may have even more space to add talent to his roster ahead of next season.

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One-handed 2014 guard Zach Hodskins accepts preferred walk-on spot with Florida Gators

Interest extended by the Florida Gators in August came to fruition on Saturday when 2014 guard Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, GA) committed to join the Gators basketball team after spending the weekend visiting Florida.

Hodskins, a one-handed phenom who was born without the bottom of his left arm (having it cut off at his elbow), took in a practice at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and came away incredibly impressed.

“What an amazing visit to Florida, [their] basketball program is off the charts!” he tweeted on Saturday.

One hour later, Hodskins had made his decision.

“[I’ve] officially committed to the University of Florida basketball. I know God has put me in the right place #GatorNation #GatorBasketball” he wrote.

Hodskins (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) was offered a preferred walk-on spot in August by assistant coach John Pelphrey. A preferred walk-on is guaranteed a place on the roster but does not receive a scholarship.

The opportunity to play for a program like the Gators and a head coach like Billy Donovan was obviously too much for Hodskins to pass up in the long run. The chance to earn a scholarship would not be out of the realm of possibility either.

He is the third guard committed to play for Florida in 2014, joining a pair of four-star, Rivals 100 recruits in Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and Chris Chiozza.

OnlyGators.com confirmed with Hodskins that the commitment he made was to join the program as a preferred walk-on. Check back Sunday for an update to this story.


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2016 PF John Mooney commits to Florida Gators

Florida Gators basketball picked up its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2016 on Saturday when power forward John Mooney (Altamonte Springs, FL) pledged to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.

At 6’7” and 210 pounds (as of July), Mooney is a sophomore in high school and likely still has some growing to do before he steps foot on campus in three years.

He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Lake Brantley High School and was just the third freshman in the last nine years to play on varsity, according to head coach Mike Cuff.

Mooney also plays for the Nike Team Florida travel program, which had former Gators Chandler Parsons and Nick Calathes on its roster while they were in high school.

His brother, Brendan Mooney, committed to Spring Hill College to play basketball as a member of the school’s 2013 recruiting class.

Mooney was recruited by Florida assistant Matt McCall and committed to the Gators following an unofficial visit. UF hopes he continues to grow and projects that he will resemble David Lee by the time he gets to college.

Florida now has basketball pledges in each of the next three recruiting cycles. Four-stars guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) are committed for 2014, while three-star power forward Kevarrius Hayes (Live Oak, FL) has decided to join the team in 2015.


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Florida offers preferred walk-on spot to one-handed 2014 guard Zach Hodskins

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan has made a career of recruiting the right players for his program, making the most out of underrated talent and turning top prospects into NBA Draft lottery picks.

He may have a new opportunity to smooth out yet another diamond in the rough if 2014 guard Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, GA), a one-handed phenom, accepts Donovan’s preferred walk-on offer to join the Florida basketball team.

Hodskins was born without the bottom half of his left arm, which is cut off at the elbow and therefore missing a hand and forearm, yet is an incredibly skilled shooter (hitting 60 percent of his three-pointers) and passer despite only having one hand.

According to David Boyd, Hodskins’s former basketball coach, Gators assistant coach John Pelphrey presented the preferred walk-on offer, which would guarantee Hodskins a spot on the team for the 2014-15 season though not a full scholarship.


Hodskins (6-foot-3, 175 pounds) has not received a scholarship offer from a Division I program although Alabama-Birmingham and Birmingham Southern are both considering taking that step in their recruitment of the player, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Pep Rally blog, which first reported Hodskins’s offer from UF.

The opportunity to play – even as a reserve deep on the bench – for a program like Florida might be too much for him to pass up in the long run. While that may be the case, Hodskins is not expected to rush into a decision and will undoubtedly wait to see if a full scholarship offer arrives before agreeing to continue his career in Gainesville, FL.

“I know that people who don’t know me sleep on me when I walk on the court,” he told USA Today back in December. “They don’t think I can play or they don’t know what to think, but it’s when I hit those first few shots or when I go by them is when they wake up. That’s when they start playing me hard. That’s what I love. I know I’ve just earned their respect. That’s all I want.”

The Gators have a pair of four-star, Rivals100 guards – Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) – already committed for 2014 but are expected to have at least two more roster sports available as the team is losing four seniors and potentially one or two underclassmen.

If Hodskins was to join the Florida basketball team as a preferred walk-on, he could potentially earn a full scholarship in the future.


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