Former Florida assistants Anthony Grant and Donnie Jones had keen eyes for unearthing under-the-radar talent during their years recruiting at UF.
Both have carried that over to their careers as head coaches. Power forward Larry Sanders, a player whom Grant recruited in his first year as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, is projected as an NBA first-round pick in numerous mock drafts. Power forward/center Hassan Whiteside, a player Jones recruited at Marshall, could end up getting picked even higher than Sanders in the first round.
Neither Sanders nor Whiteside were big names coming out of high school. But Grant and Jones saw something in them that other coaches didn’t see.
That shows that Florida may miss Jones and Grant as much, if not more than its vaunted ‘o4 class. The Gators have had more recruiting misses than hits since both assistants left to pursue head coaching careers. Some notable busts have included Jai Lucas, Eloy Vargas and Nimrod Tishman.
There is hope that some current members of UF’s 2010 class (Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin) could blossom into under-the-radar successes. Time will tell. But it’s clear if Florida is going to lose out on stars like Brandon Knight and Austin Rivers, it will need to do a better job evaluating the three- and four-star prospects who remain in the recruiting pool.