Tishman’s decision opens up 13th scholarship

By Adam Silverstein
May 24, 2010

Faced with rebuilding his program, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan had been dealing with one final obstacle – having enough scholarships to sign his six-player 2010 recruiting class. That issue has now been resolved.

Donovan, who finished the 2009-10 basketball season with only two commitments for next year, signed four more players in just under a month’s time – Rutgers’ four-star transfer guard Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), three-star forwards Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL) and Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD) and three-star point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL). Unfortunately, the Gators only had two remaining scholarships to offer with four-star forwards Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) and Casey Prather (Jackson, TN) already taking up two other spots.

Sophomore guard Ray Shipman had previously decided to transfer (or else the team would have only had three total scholarships), but Donovan needed some help in order to get his program to the NCAA-mandated maximum of 13.

As OGGOA initially projected, the extra vacated scholarships ended up coming from redshirt sophomore forward Adam Allen (who gave up his so the team could sign Wilbekin) and now freshman point guard Rod Tishman (who has decided to remain in Israel instead of returning to the team).

“For [Tishman], coming the distance he came and not getting and opportunity to play much here was a part in his decision. I think part of him wanted to come back again, but I don’t think he wanted to come back if it was going to be the same situation as last season. Coming over here to play in the States was an adjustment period for him. He’s got some opportunities in Israel right now that he’s going to probably pursue professionally,” Donovan said. “I loved coaching him and I still have a good relationship with him and his family, but he’s going to stay back over there. We certainly appreciate him coming here and giving it a shot. For him coming all the way, the distance that he did and not getting the opportunity to play as much as he would like too [was difficult].”

Donovan informed the media of Tishman’s decision Monday, one that was assumed by many but not previously confirmed. Tishman barely got on the court last season, playing a total of 16 minutes in seven games. He played his last game on Jan. 16 against LSU and did not step onto the floor again the rest of the season.

Allen has qualified for a Bright Futures academic scholarship but may instead decide to take a medical hardship. He could also decide to transfer if he feels he can get healthy and play for another program. Either way, he will open up an additional slot.

“Adam hasn’t played ball in two years. I want to give him every opportunity to come back and to play and that’s what he wants to do,” Donovan said. “There’s such an uncertainty about where he’s going to be at physically when our season starts. […] He realizes he has a tremendous uphill battle, his skill level and more. There are a lot of unknowns.”

Other topics covered by Donovan:

On Larson: “When Cody decided to open up his recruitment, I had no knowledge of any of the stuff. As we got into the recruiting process, they were very forthright, up front and open about what had happened. I sensed a young man who was very naïve in a lot of respects. He’s a great kid and he made a mistake. He’s very remorseful for what happened. Getting to know him a little bit better, he think that this was a mistake he made, he took responsibility for it and was up front, open and honest with me about it. I checked in around him and I feel like he’s a good kid who made a bad decision. […] Going forward, I feel like he can be a great person and a great player for us and everyone around him that I know says great things about him.”

On Wilbekin: “Scottie gives us a true point guard and a guy that’s going to understand his role. It will allow us to do more, go up and down more and even take the ball out of Walker’s hands a little more. […] With a guy like Scottie we have a number of different combinations to play. He creates versatility for our team. He wants to do anything to help our team. That’s a unique situation. He wants to help us win and contribute in a way that’s going to make our team better. As talented and good as he is, it’s an extra bonus that he’s a point guard and understands the play. I think down the road he’s going to be a very good player for us.”

On the “new” team: “The one thing is we certainly have experience coming back and I think we have a certain level of expectation on our team after going to the tournament. […] It’s going to be interesting to see how our older guys handle a higher level of expectation. Going into the season, we’re probably going to be a team that is ranked very high, which they’ve never had to deal with before. […] The biggest thing we’ve got to do offensively is raise shooting percentages. We had five guys last year the almost all averaged double-figure scoring, but it has to be a focus for Boynton and Walker – understanding good shots and bad shots.”

On Alex Tyus’ role next season: “This is the first time since I’ve been here at Florida that any player has put their name in the NBA Draft and as come back. […] A lot has been talked about Alex, his true position and the position he plays. A lot of the NBA guys talked to him and told him their selections have nothing to do with that stuff. Hearing it from someone at that level is a little bit different.”

On transfers having to sit out a season: “Well, I think if you don’t have a rule like that, there’s going to be a mass exodus everywhere. The one thing I think they want to stay away from is coaches recruiting off another program and a player leaving with no penalty. That would be a problem too, probably. When freshmen go to college, there’s always that transition period.”

Special thanks to the University of Florida for the quoted material above.

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