Florida basketball adds 2014 commitment


Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:27 p.m.

Florida's second commitment in the 2014 class is a big addition to the backcourt — literally.

Brandone Francis, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard from Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, made his verbal pledge to the Gators on Thursday.

“Florida's getting a good one,” Arlington Country Day coach Rex Morgan said. “He's a big guard and his size and strength give him such an advantage. He may be the best guard I've ever coached, and I've coached some good ones.”

Morgan has coached several Division I players in his career, including former Gator and Ole Miss guard David Huertas. Francis, a four-star prospect ranked 34th in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.com, has shown the ability to score inside and out throughout his high school and travel-league career.

“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 (Florida) Coach (Billy) Donovan's help they can take me to the next level.”

Morgan said Francis is a combo guard capable of playing both the point and shooting guard positions. But he'll likely play more shooting guard because he's in the same class with Florida 2014 point guard commitment Chris Chiozza.

“You can put the ball in his hands and he's capable of making plays,” said Morgan, who compared Francis to New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams. “He can take the ball to the hole, he sees the floor well and he can shoot it.”

Morgan also thinks Francis will be a good fit for UF's up-tempo system.

“We run, we press,” Morgan said. “That's what we do. That's what he's good at.”

Francis suffered a broken wrist that sidelined him for the 2012 summer league season, and had a knee issue during this past high school season, but Morgan said he's currently at 100 percent.

Another factor that could have contributed to Francis committing to Florida — his Dominican roots. Francis is a native of the Dominican Republic who enrolled at Arlington Country Day as a sophomore in high school. He's close friends with former UF Dominican standout, current Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford. Morgan said Francis plans to try out for the Dominican national team in August.

Calathes to Dallas?

It appears another Gator may take a shot at joining the NBA ranks.

Nick Calathes traveled to Dallas on Wednesday, and, according to WTEV's Dan Hicken, will accept an invite to the Mavericks' summer league. Dallas owns the rights to the 24-year-old former Gator point guard after acquiring him in a trade during the 2009 NBA draft. Calathes played this past season in Russia and earned Eurocup MVP honors.

A source close to Calathes said Thursday that he is “just looking at all of his options” and would not confirm or deny he's signed with Dallas. But according to his Twitter account, Calathes is currently in Las Vegas, where Dallas will play in the NBA summer league.

Calathes did not immediately return calls to his cell phone Thursday. He still holds the UF record for assists in a season with 231 accomplished during his sophomore season. He left UF following his sophomore year in 2009 to accept a pro contract to play in Greece.

Team USA wins opener

The US 19-under boys basketball team got off to a strong start at the FIBA 19-under World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.

The team, coached by Donovan, cruised to an 88-29 win over the Ivory Coast in its first tournament game Thursday. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier scored two points off the bench for Team USA.

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