Five-star PF Anthony Bennett eliminates Florida

By Adam Silverstein
May 4, 2012

Believed by many to be the front-runner for his services, the Florida Gators were eliminated on Friday from the recruitment of five-star power forward Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV) , the player told’s Evan Daniels.

Bennett, who had Florida in his final four along with Kentucky, Oregon and UNLV, recently paid unofficial visits to the other three schools. He previously said that he would take official visits to his final three schools before making a decision but surprisingly UF did not make the cut despite being expected to receive his final visit.

The No. 7 overall recruit in the country and one of head coach Billy Donovan’s primary targets in 2012, Bennett was expected by most to eventually join the Gators basketball team. Florida is in need of impact frontcourt players and Bennett spoke highly about the opportunity to compete day-in and day-out against sophomore center Patric Young.

However,‘s Adam Zagoria reports that Bennett’s decision was affected by freshman guard Bradley Beal entering the 2012 NBA Draft, according to the co-founder of Bennett’s AAU team CIA Bounce.

“The bottom line is when Bradley Beal committed and decided he was going off to the draft, he and AB were pretty tight,” Mike George said. “The main reason he was considering going there was to play with Bradley. They were pretty close. Bradley took the lead on recruiting him. The second thing obviously for AB is he just wants to be in a position where he wants to enjoy his experience and he wants to be one of the main focal points of what’s going on. Florida has Erik Murphy coming back. He’s a senior and probably is going to dominate the minutes. They also have Patric Young coming back. He loves Coach Donovan and loves the staff. They’re good people.”

Instead, Donovan misses out on yet another prominent forward and could switch his focus to unranked center Bradley Hayes (Jacksonville, FL). Also a 2012 recruit, Hayes has not made a commitment as he is still surveying his options. He does not yet have a scholarship offer from UF (due to the team having just one available) and is not guaranteed to receive one with Bennett out of the picture.

The Gators are also courting transfer PF Damontre Harris, who plans to leave South Carolina at the end of the semester and join a new team for the 2012-13 season. He is strongly considering Florida and Kansas, according to’s Jeff Goodman, but could also return to USC should he find that the grass is not greener elsewhere.

Harris averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while playing 25.9 minutes per game last season. He would be forced to redshirt next year but would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2013-14.

Though Florida already has four players committed as part of their 2012 class – four-stars point guard Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) and G Michael Frazier (Montverde, FL) and three-stars G Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL) and F DeVon Walker (Winter Haven, FL) – Donovan has missed out on a number of other top-ranked forwards this cycle including five-stars Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ) and Alex Poythress (Clarksville, TN) and four-star Ricardo Gathers (Reserve, LA).


  1. Julio says:

    Nike U, UNLV and UK? Well we know the kid has his financial future covered for a few years at least.

  2. Mr2Bits says:

    Kentucky brushes 5 to the curb and probably sold him on some side incentives……no surprise we were ousted.

  3. Ken (CA) says:

    I was flying high so far this weekend as low as last weekend was in sports, this weekend is starting grat, lacrosse winning, softball beating UA first game and baseball already claiming series win over UK and can sweep tomorrow, now i am depressed. I didn’t realize Beal was such a decisive factor. Maybe Beal will still convince him that UF is somewhere great for him, but sounds like a one and done at UK again.

    What a shame, I think he would quickly push past Murphy in a strong starter role if he came here and make us an immediate title contender.

    Now we sound like a tourney team with a sweet 16 or so type finish.

  4. MAR says:

    So what. If he doesn’t want to be a Gator, his loss. We still have Billy, and his teams find ways to win come tourney time. I like Murphy and think he will have a good senior year as will Boynton.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      so what? he is the difference between a tourney team and a championship team, he is that good. It is a shame he is now down on UF, jsut because Beal left. I can see it though, with Patric, Beak and him this would be a top 5 team no question, no we will be just an average team with a couple of big projects. Billy can coach them up, but they can only do so much….It is easy to say so what, but that is a huge loss to one of the best players in the country…

    • chigator says:

      I agree, I am sick of hearing about guaranteed playing time from recruits. This is why the NBA is such a mess, full of players who don’t know how to grind. Billy demands that of his players, which is why they have been successful in the pros. I believe in Billy 100%, I know he can get it done without guys like Bennett. I would be disappointed if he played this game of promising unproven recruits PT over previous starters.

  5. Scooterp says:

    I’ve gotten used to the disappointment. I think Billy has proven time and time again, that if he can get mediocre players to buy in – we’re tough to beat. I don’t want UF to become a one-and-done university. So, if top guys want to go to another school because they’re concerned over freshman minutes – that’s fine. Billy can develop 3 star players.

  6. Tractorr says:

    Between Noah, Horford, Speights, Haslem, and even Parsons what does it take to get some big men to come to Florida.

    I think Beal is probably going to be great some day but am I the only one who thinks he wasn’t there yet. Perhaps he would have got there in another season, but how does a player look at the other talent left on the floor and not want to come to Florida. If he goes to Kentucky how does he know that they will be any good? I know that Calipari is good at reloading teams but sooner or later it is going to be a disaster just by the law of averages. Florida has known talent and had we got Bennett we would have had the beef to make a legit championship run.

  7. Marlex says:

    I hate that we lost out on another big, but if he doesn’t want to go somewhere unless he’s the focus of the team, then he probably wouldn’t have been a good fit. (Still would have loved to have the size and the talent on the team.)

  8. Courtney says:

    I’m sorry guys but I want guys who want to be gators and team players. With murp,young and will our frontcourt will be fine. If larson makes a small improvement we could be great. Rosario and kenny with make us a top 5 team regaurdless. I’m so excited about next year go gators!

    • Tractorr says:

      I agree with you, but I am surprised that a guy like Bennett who is almost certainly a one and done could walk onto a team that has a ton of proven talent and showcase his skills.

      Kentucky will be good again this coming year they have to much talent not to, but they don’t have experience and sooner or later that is going to catch up with Calipari. I know Bennett hasn’t chosen to play there yet but I am betting that he can’t resist.

      Hopefully, he is just staying home and playing for UNLV.

  9. Courtney says:

    I’m sorry guys but I want guys who want to be gators and team players. With murp,young, and will our frontcourt will be fine. If larson makes a small improvement we could be great. Rosario and kenny with make us a top 5 team regaurdless. I’m so excited about next year go gators!

  10. cegator says:

    The 2 main reasons for eliminating UF seem to contradict each other. Beal leaving really hurt out chances because of their friendship. But, he also wanted to be a focal point of the team. If Beal had stayed he would be even less of a focal point of the team. There was no way he could get both of the things he wanted.

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