GHS center pulling for High Point


Published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 7:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 7:28 p.m.

When the Gator men’s basketball team takes the court tonight against High Point, it will be much more than UF's final non-conference tuneup to one Gainesville resident.

Gainesville High School center Chad July signed with the Panthers on Nov. 18, his 18th birthday, after receiving a scholarship offer after an Orlando AAU tournament in July. His visit to the campus the next month was all he needed to seal his decision.

“The visit was real, real nice,” said the 6-foot-9 inch 245 pound July. “They’ve got a real nice campus, and the coaching staff was great.”

July said he still speaks with the High Point coaches every other day and has kept in touch with several players since his visit. That contact has helped the senior through a rough start to the early season.

The Hurricanes have had by far the toughest schedule in the area, playing in the prestigious City of Palms Tournament in Fort Myers, where they took on the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, St. Benedict’s High School (N.J.). July’s statistics have dipped this season, averaging only five points and six rebounds on 43 percent shooting from the floor, but he looks to improve upon his season heading into district play that starts with his team’s game against Eastside at Santa Fe Community College on Friday (7:30 p.m., $7 admission).

But first July has a scheduled trip to the O’Connell Center tonight. Although he grew up a Gator basketball fan, July said he’s changing his ways for this game.

“I’m going for High Point all the way,” he said. “That’s where I’m going to be at for the next four years, so I’ve got to go with my team.”

July will do a little scouting.

“I’m going to be watching the game as a fan and really seeing what I have to do next year as a teammate, trying to see where we’re weak at and where we’re strong at. Then I’ll know, when I come in there next year, where I can really help at.”

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