Billy D on recruiting bigs: You get told no more than yes.


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.











  1. Our problem in recruiting is that we have five underclassmen to fill two positions. If Young leaves early (hopefully not) I’m sure we could sign a top rated big because he could be guaranteed playing time. While Young, Murphy and Yeguette are big time players the jury is still out on Larson and Pitchford. No four or five star recruit wants to ride the bench. UK can get all these top rated recruits because the class ahead of them jumps to the NBA>

  2. To me it is a pretty simple exclamation. Billy Ball is built on jacking up as many 3’s as possible. Many of the shots taken from 3-land are often times poor shots, even though the player may be open, Billy is not understanding of or is not able to teach his guys the difference between an open 3 that is a good shot and one that is a poor shot. So kids see that the team plays perimeter ball, does not run any interior cross screening or low post action, and sees smaller players jacking up 3’s at will. Thus the big guys want to play where they will be emphasized and the smaller guys want to play for Billy where jacking up 3’s is encouraged.

  3. I disagree with Lew.

    Billy has shown with the recent bigs who went pro that we can center our offense around them. If you recall, when big Al was here, we typically had him post up and make himself a target for guards to feed the ball. Our O was based on the “inside out” formula of having the defense collapse on Al which allowed our shooters to have good looks.

    We are trying to do the same with Pat but its a work in progress. Also, I constantly hear Billy preach taking good shots and knowing what constitutes one. He encourages his shooters to fire away when they have a good look, especially if we’ve worked the ball around some which creates space for the shot.

  4. One other comment: we lost out on a few bigs in the last few weeks but, with 3 signees in this class, we are at 13 for next season. Unless we know for sure that someone is departing (seems likely for Pat and Brad), we can’t offer any right now.

    Maybe that’s whats going on: we’re telling someone to wait until the Spring signing period to see what shakes out.

  5. Before we get into arguments about Billy Ball, remember we went to the home court of two top five programs and lost by 7 and 4 respectively. The difference in both games came at the free throw line with the Gators shooting fewer free throws than OSU and Syracuse made. Probably a bit of home cooking as well as some poor defense on our part. If we can stay healthy I believe we will make some big strides over the next month.

  6. Lew is an idiot. Even last years team our strength was our big guys with Parsons SEC player of the Year with his all around game. The guys we have now shoot 3s well but are shooting more often cause of lack of low post scoring.

  7. We lost those 2 games for several reasons, but the glaring one is Walker’s inability to mature over 4 seasons. He falls down more than Humpty Dumpty, and constantly dribbles in to trouble. Nice to see us get a good point guard with a high IQ next year. Our offense will be so much better with a good decision maker running the point!!
    We do need a big in this class somehow though.