While Florida has dived into the John Wall sweepstakes, a more sure fire signee for the Gators may reside in the state of Alabama.
Eric Bledsoe, a 6-foot, four-star 2009 recruit from Birmingham, listed Florida as his top choice before playing in last week’s Derby Classic in Louisville, Ky. According to Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton, Bledsoe’s eyes lit up when asked about Florida.
“Florida’s been hard recruiting me and I like the coach,” Bledsoe said. Bledsoe, the third-ranked point guard recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com, later referenced Billy Donovan’s personality and sense of humor.
Bledsoe also is being pursued by Kentucky, Duke and Cincinnati. In a Derby Classic game that featured little defense (a 141-135 final score), Bledsoe wound up with nine points, four assists and three turnovers.
It appears that Florida has zeroed in on Wall, Bledsoe and former Alabama guard Rico Pickett as potential additions to the 2009 class. Florida could sign two of them and still end up at its scholarship limit of 13 if Nick Calathes somehow decides to come back from his junior season (which is appearing more and more unlikely.)
That’s why Donovan spent Monday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C., courting the 6-foot-4 Wall, the nation’s top-ranked recruit.
It’s fair to question, though, whether one scholarship would be better served on a big man, given Florida’s recent rebounding and shot-blocking woes last season. Losing Alex Tyus, Florida’s top rebounder, and releasing 6-foot-9 forward DeShawn Painter from his letter of intent, only adds to the future frontcourt uncertainty.
When asked about going after a big man, Donovan went off on a tangent about losing his assistant coaches. But later, Donovan added that he felt comfortable with the current frontcourt rotation of Georgetown transfer Vernon Macklin, senior Dan Werner, junior Chandler Parsons, sophomore Kenny Kadji and incoming freshman Erik Murphy. He didn’t mention Eloy Vargas, who is working to come back from ankle problems after a freshman season that could have probably been better served with a medical redshirt. But he emphasized that it will be an important offseason for Kadji, who is waking up at 7 a.m. each morning this spring to work on his conditioning.
Will it be enough up front? We’ll see.
In another bit of positive men’s basketball news this spring, Werner, Calathes, Hudson Fricke and Adam Allen were among 44 UF athletes named to the Southeastern Conference’s Academic Honor Roll.