A look at UF’s top 2019 recruiting targets

The Villages' Tre Mann gets the ball at a summer league basketball game at The Villages High School on June 29. [PAUL RYAN/ CORRESPONDENT]

It’s never too early to discuss recruiting. Especially when it comes to Florida basketball.

Florida coach Mike White and his staff brought in a breakthrough class in 2018, which included his first five-star signee at UF, Andrew Nembhard, plus four-star shooting guard Noah Locke and four-star wing Keyontae Johnson.

What can White and his staff do for an encore? With the summer evaluation period approaching, here’s a look at some players UF is targeting for 2019:

— Omar Payne, power forward, Kissimmee (Osceola) — A four-star recruit, the 6-foot-9, 195-pound Payne will need to bulk up to bang in the SEC. Florida State, Louisville and Clemson also are in hot pursuit of the skilled, athletic big man who rebounds and finishes well in transition.

Tre Mann, point guard, The Villages — The 6-foot-4 Mann made an unofficial visit to Florida in May and already has UF in his final three with Tennessee and Kansas. A four-star prospect, Mann grew up in Gainesville as a Gator fan. Mann is a playmaker, but shoots well enough to play off the ball, and could team in the backcourt with Andrew Nembhard if/when Nembhard returns to UF for his sophomore season.

— C.J. Walker, power forward, Orlando (Orlando Christian Prep) —  A three-star prospect, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Walker also had offers from Georgia, LSU, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama. Walker, an athletic combo forward who is working hard to improve his skill set, told Rivals.com he’s talking to Florida “once or twice a day” and said that UF’s up-tempo offense fits his style of play.

— Bryan Antoine, guard, Eatontown, N.J. (Ranney School) — A five-star combo guard, the 6-foot-4 Antoine announced last month that Florida was in his final five with Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Kansas. A big reason? Antoine grew up in Florida before moving to New Jersey and still has family who lives close enough to Gainesville to watch him play. Antoine has scheduled his official visit to UF on Sept. 15, the weekend of the home football game against Colorado State. Ranked 7th nationally by 24.7.com, Antoine would surpass Nembhard as the most highly-touted recruit of the White era if the Gators were to land him. Antoine is an excellent shooter who can play on or off the ball and has the size and length to defend multiple positions.

— Scottie Lewis, forward, Eatontown, N.J. (Ranney School) — A 6-foot-5, 177-pound five-star prospect, Lewis averaged 16.4 points and 4.1 assists last season while displaying explosive finishing ability and the ability to guard multiple positions. Lewis told 247.com he’s established a good rapport with UF’s coaching staff and likes the family atmosphere of the Gator program. “When Coach (Darris) Nichols and Coach (Mike) White came on the in-home visit it was like I had two uncles there, and not two college coaches,” Lewis told 247. Duke, St. John’s, Villanova and Kentucky also are recruiting Lewis hard as well.



  1. Sounds like Coach White and his staff are legit recruiters. If they can convince the two guys from New Jersey to both come it will be a real coup. Still need to get some quality front court players though to compliment the good guards. The way Nembhard played for the Canadian Men’s National team, I would not be surprised at all if he is a one and done. He does acknowledge though that he really needs some work in the weight room to gain strength as he can be pushed around by bigger guards so maybe he will stay for two years at least. I think Coach White and his staff have done a great job so far. I am still kind of waiting to see if the NBA does away with the one and done rule and allow high school kids to go straight to the NBA. That will totally change everything.

    • Agreed. I love coach White, as he reminds me so much of Billy D. I’m all for the baseball rule, but if the NBA would rather them just be out of HS for two years instead of three, then that’s alright too, especially since there’s only two rounds in the NBA, compared to the 2000 rounds of the MLB draft.

    • Rob1962. Bassett, Gak, Chase Johnson, Ballard, Stokes, and Keyontae Johnson are some quality front court guys that White has brought to Florida to compliment the guards. Unfortunately, Chase Johnson and Stokes missed most of last year with injuries, and Gak played last year with a bad knee (since repaired). Bassett really came on last year after redshirting. Ballard likely will do the same this year, playing hopefully more under control and with more confidence as a soph. And Stokes is going to develop in a quality SEC big man very quickly now that he is in shape, etc. And Keyontae Johnson has skills coming in as a freshman. Really good inside and a strong offensive rebounder. Florida is going to be a very good basketball team this coming season if they can avoid the type of injuries they had last season.

      • I agree Tampa they have some good potential front court guys but they all have to prove it on the court. Have not seen Stokes play at all and Johnson only played in a few games last year due to concussions. Those two guys progress will definitely determine how good the front court is next year. I love Gak’s effort though. The guy played hurt most of the year and gave it his all. Got to respect that. He showed real toughness. I hope he comes back healthy and stronger than ever. I like Bassett too, he just did not get enough playing time last year. Don’t forget we still have Hayes too. Hope he makes a jump this year and expands his offensive game. I have not seen any film on Keyontae Johnson though. Hope he can step in and contribute right of way. I think they can be good too if like you said guys can stay healthy. Go Gators!

  2. Brockway does a good job of painting a rosy picture. Nothing wrong with being positive.

    Mike White, however, isn’t exactly Mr. Dynamo. My guess would be that unless Florida has a really good season (with a bitch schedule), White won’t even get one of the players mentioned – not one!

    • bf, I think you’ve backed yourself into a corner here. If UF gets one these guys, you’re either going to have to admit you were wrong, or acknowledge that Coach White led the Gators to “a really good season”. That’s gonna be a tough choice. Of course, I suppose you could always wiggle off the hook by saying it was just your “guess”.

      • Would love to admit I was wrong. Forget the NJ guys – that’s a pipe dream thinking either would play for White. Those guys want to play for a real coach.

        Still say unless Florida has a stellar, exciting season, White doesn’t get any of the five Brockway mentioned. Three-stars, if he’s lucky.

        With the schedule and a strong(er) SEC, I can’t help but think this season will be much like last. White doesn’t know who to start; keeps deadweight on the floor too long; doesn’t use the bench effectively; and, you knew this was coming, Sir Mike will lose a lot of games in which he is favored, typical of a fake coach. A leopard does not change its stripes.

        Help the country out in November. Thank you.

        • Which leopard? Mike White losing games as a favorite, or you pointing it out? Certainly hope you have to admit you were wrong, but we shall see how it plays out. That’s what makes it interesting.

          • A fake coach will always coach like a fake coach. You knew that, Joe! However…..however, White isn’t nearly as fake as our fake mainstream media today.

            This college bb season should be pretty exciting — even more so if someone can deny Duke the title.

          • Yes, I knew what you meant. Glad you view Mike White more favorably than the media. Good to know. College basketball is always exciting to me, but much more when the Gators are good.