It’s a question that has perplexed basketball fans around Gator Nation.
Is Florida coach Billy Donovan intent on building a team of 13 guards? Or does it just seem that way?
The Gators announced their 2012 class on Monday. All three signees were guards — point guard Braxton Ogbueze (6-foot-1), shooting guard Michael Frazier (6-4) and shooting guard Dillon Graham (6-4). Of the three, Ogbueze is the highest-rated prospect, one that Donovan calls “one of the best point guards around.”
But it’s been a rougher recruiting season for Donovan for big men. The Gators were in the mix for some elite forward and center prospects, but lost out on Alex Poythress to Kentucky, Robert Carter to Georgia Tech, Brice Johnson to North Carolina and Mitch McGary to Michigan.
So why can’t a coach who has sent numerous big men to the NBA (Udonis Haslem, David Lee, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Matt Bonner) close on big guys of late? Florida was reminded of its recent inability to land quality big guys when Syracuse 7-foot center Fab Melo had 9 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot in the Orange’s 72-68 win over Florida. Melo had Florida in his final three choices with Louisville and Syracuse.
“Everyone is a little bit different,” Donovan said. “I think sometimes guys that go through the recruiting process and look at what’s best for them.”
Donovan said his ability to develop college big men into NBA players is a selling point, but, “at the end of the day, those guys are taking their four or five visits, they are seeing things more than just there are NBA guys there are Florida,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into a decision for a family. So I just try to trust and respect the fact that the decision has been made for them.
“Whether they come here or go somewhere else that’s part of the process, Unfortunately, in (recruiting) you get told no a lot more than you do yes.”
Florida remains in play for some top big men that have yet to sign for 2012, including power forwards Jarnell Stokes (6-8, 250 pounds, No. 18 ESPNU top 100) and Anthony Bennett (6-8, 230 pounds, No. 7 ESPNU top 100). If the Gators can get one of the two to sign, it would help balance a roster projected to rely on three and four-guard lineups in the coming years.