Gators could add big man for 2016 class, Barry visiting


The recent dismissal of Travis Ford at Oklahoma State could end up a boon to Florida from a recruiting standpoint.

Gorjok Gak, a 6-foot-11, 215-pound center from Victory Rock Christian School in Bradenton, plans to take an official visit to UF’s campus from April 18-20, according to his high school coach, Loren Jackson.

Gak signed last November with Oklahoma State, but was able to get a release from his LOI when Ford was let go in March. Jackson said Gak’s interest in Florida is high.

“Basically, it came down to Florida and Oklahoma State last fall,” Jackson said. “It’s a good situation for him. He wants to be a Gator.”

Most recruiting websites rate Gak as a three-star prospect, with the website ranking Gak as the 10th-best prospect in Florida. Gak averaged 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for Victory Rock this season.

“He’s a versatile player, very similar to I would say, Joakim Noah, in his ability to rebound, block shots,” Jackson said. “He runs the floor like a deer.”

Gak would add size to Florida coach Mike White’s first full recruiting class. Florida currently has two players signed for 2016 — 6-4 guard Eric Hester and 6-8 forward Dontay Bassett. Both attend the same high school (Oldsmar Christian) and both are three-star prospects.

In addition, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry confirmed that his son, College of Charleston graduate transfer Canyon Barry, is visiting Florida this weekend. Barry averaged 19.3 points per game at College of Charleston, but sat out the last two months of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Like his father, the younger Barry shoots free-throws underhanded, and finished last season at an 85.3 percent clip from the line. Barry also is considering Miami, Kansas, California, Louisville, Northwestern and Ole Miss.

“He likes the up tempo style that Mike White plays,” the elder Barry said. “It’s an attacking style that’s conducive to his strengths as a player. I think academically, the school fits for what he wants as far as graduate school.  Wherever my son ends up, that team is getting a smart player. He can handle it, pass it and shoot it. He’s a good player.”

White said he hasn’t ruled out adding transfers this spring. Another grad transfer who has expressed interest in Florida is Rodney Pryor, a 6-5 shooting guard from Robert Morris. Pryor, a career 36.3 percent 3-point shooter, is scheduled to visit Florida on April 18 and could fill an important area of need next season.

At his season-ending press conference on Monday,  White was asked about the in roads he’s made in recruiting in his first year on the job. White and assistant coach Dusty May were at Oakleaf High in Jacksonville on Thursday night to watch four-star 2018 wing player Nassir Little at a grassroots event.

“We’re in a much better place,” White said. “Let me backtrack. 2016 was always going to be difficult for us in playing catch-up. I like the two guys we signed early. I like their make-up. They’re proud to be Gators. They’re both tough kids. They’re both very competitive and they both have chances to be good players.

“Who knows with some of these other questions that have been asked. Who knows if he have another signee late or two with the NBA stuff, with the transfer stuff. Eyes and ears continue to be open in ’16, but in ’17 we’re in a much better place than we were a year ago. The seasons has given us time to make some inroads, develop some relationships.

“I think anytime you lose a coach of the stature that we lost in Coach (Billy) Donovan, the initial reaction is that that program is unhealthy now. I think that, not that we set the world on fire this year by any stretch, I think when recruits and parents and coaches were able to see University of Florida basketball, Gator basketball is still healthy. We still put a good product out on the floor. We still have an amazing environment in the O’Dome. This is still a very, very good program. I think through all of the television exposure we have in this league I think people were able to see this is something I could consider, for sure. We’re excited where we are with a bunch of 2017, 2018 young men. We’ve had a bunch of guys on campus. We’ll continue to get people on campus for visits. The University of Florida sells itself. It’s an amazing brandname. It’s an amazing college town. I think a lot of people want to be a part of it.”