The Gators are hoping a small, traditional high school basketball power school outside Tampa could serve as a future pipeline of talent.
After landing 2016 combo guard commitment Eric Hester out of Oldsmar Christian School, the Gators have offered scholarships to three of his high school teammates, 2016 forward Dontay Bassett, 2017 wing player L.J. Figueroa and 2018 point guard Elijah Weaver.
Bassett (6-9, 190 pounds, three-star per 24.7.com) was the latest to be offered a scholarship on Thursday. He’s visiting Oregon this weekend.
“He’s an athletic, tough, hard-nosed guy,” Oldsmar Christian coach Jordan Fair said. “A true power forward who can step out and shoot a bit as well.”
Figueroa and Weaver, Fair said, both are top 50 prospects. At 6-foot-5, Weaver, who has also received a scholarship offer from Louisville.
“He’ll be one of the top three point guards in the state,” Fair said. “Really strong. Passes it well. Has a good basketball IQ.”
Fair said that Florida landing Hester as a commitment could help in the recruitment of his three teammates.
“It certainly opens the door,” Fair said. “Eric is a highly-regarded and their (UF) coaching staff is trying to make a mark in the state. They are a great group of guys.”
— At least one preseason college basketball magazine doesn’t have lofty expectations for Florida in Mike White’s first season as coach. The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook picked the Gators to finish seventh out of 14 teams in the Southeastern Conference. Of UF’s chances, Blue Ribbon writes: “Florida has a chance to bounce back from a disappointing year quicker than expected. But it will depend on if John Egbunu is the real deal in the post, if Dorian Finney-Smith can provide leadership and production from the power forward spot, if Kasey Hill turns the corner and becomes a more consistent point guard and if players adapt to White’s style quickly. That’s a high number of ifs.” Picked to finish ahead of Florida are 1. Kentucky, 2. Vanderbilt. 3. Texas A&M, 4. Georgia, 5. LSU and 6. Ole Miss. Blue Ribbon picked three teams from the SEC in its preseason Top 25 — 1. Kentucky, 14. Vanderbilt and 22. Texas A&M.
— Florida announced that former softball player and ESPN host Jenn Brown and former Gator defensive lineman and current WWE Champion Thaddeus Bullard (a.k.a. Titus O’Neil) will host Gator Madness at 9 p.m. on Oct. 2. In addition, former Gator point guard Jason Williams and former Gator shooting guard Lee Humphrey will return as judges during shooting, dunking and ball-handing competition. The event will stream live on SEC Network Plus.