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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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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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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4 BITS: Hernandez, Raymond, Chiozza, Francis

1 » New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Monday spoke about former tight end Aaron Hernandez and how the “whole organization was duped” by him. Kraft told The Boston Globe that the Patriots knew Hernandez was “immature” but could never have guessed his character issues would lead to such a heinous crime. He also explained how, prior to the 2010 NFL Draft, Hernandez sent a letter to New England admitting to smoking marijuana while playing for the Florida Gators and promising he would “willfully” submit to bi-weekly drug tests as a rookie with a promise to return portions of his salary if he tested positive and was suspended. “I realize this offer is somewhat unorthodox, but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL,” Hernandez wrote.

A screen shot of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 14 video game, featuring Hernandez as an NCAA Ultimate Team unlockable item, made its way around the internet on Monday. EA Sports has since announced that Hernandez will be removed from the game “via a Title Update in the near future.” Hernandez will also be taken out of Madden NFL 25.

2 » Former Gators tennis star Lisa Raymond‘s bid to win her 12th Grand Slam title fell just short on Sunday when she dropped a mixed doubles match 5-7, 6-2, 8-6 in the finals of the 2013 Wimbledon. Raymond, the defending mixed doubles champion at Wimbledon, has already won five career Grand Slam mixed doubles titles to go along with six women’s doubles titles.

Read two more Florida Gators news BITS (three videos) after the break!
Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Hernandez, Raymond, Chiozza, Francis

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Gators land four-star guard Brandone Francis

Just hours before a trio of former Florida Gators learn if they will have the opportunity to continue their playing careers in the NBA, head coach Billy Donovan added a key piece to his 2014 recruiting class, receiving a verbal commitment from four-star combo guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL).

Francis, whose pledge was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello, called Donovan earlier in the day before the coach led USA Basketball to an 88-29 preliminary-round victory over the Ivory Coast in the 2013 FIBA World Championship.

“That’s my dream school and I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” Francis told SNY.tv‘s Adam Zagoria. “I think I have a great chance to go up there and be a pro. I think they can make me a pro. That’s a great fit for me as a guard. They use a lot of pick and roll with their system and with Coach Donovan’s help they can take me to the next level.”

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard from the Dominican Republic can also run the point and is one of the hottest names in the recruiting circuit at this time. In fact, Francis was not listed on the preliminary Rivals150 for 2014 but checked in as the No. 25 player in the country when the latest version of the rankings came out Thursday afternoon.

One reason Francis has been under the radar is because he broke his wrist prior to summer of 2012 and was unable to participate in AAU games. His high basketball IQ, superior size and strength, terrific mid-range game, and ability to play all three perimeter positions make him a highly-regarded prospect.

He may be a five-star recruit by the time the final 2014 rankings are released.

Francis impressed during the NBPA Top 100 camp in mid-June, an event where future Gators teammate and fellow four-star 2014 PG Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN) also shined. Chiozza moved up 51 spots from No. 90 to No. 39 in the new Rivals150.

Francis is listed as a four-star player and the No. 34 prospect in the country by ESPN. Chiozza also checks in at No. 39 on the ESPN 100.

If he does wind up signing a National Letter of Intent with Florida next year, Francis would continue the trend of Donovan working with the sons of former players. His father, Bobby Francis, played at Boston College and still lives in Boston, MA.

Francis’s offer list included big names like Illinois, Indiana, Louisville and Oklahoma State. He also had offers from Miami and Florida State and was being monitored closely by Kansas and UConn, among others.

With the Gators set to lose rising senior Scottie Wilbekin and potentially incoming five-star freshman Kasey Hill at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, Donovan has done a nice job already getting his future backcourt in place. Florida can now concentrate on adding ot the frontcourt going forward.

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