Gators adding size to backcourt


The Gators officially announced the signing of Virginia Tech 6-foot-5 sophomore shooting guard Jalen Hudson on Friday.

The addition of Hudson signals a continued trend in Florida coach Mike White’s recruiting strategy — to target bigger guards.

Three of White’s commitments/signings are guards 6-foot-3 or taller — 2017 pg commit Shai Alexander (6-3 with a 6-10 wingspan), incoming freshman guard Eric Hester (6-4 with ac 6-9 wingspan) and Hudson (6-5). That doesn’t include 6-6 incoming transfer swingman Canyon Barry and 6-6 2017 swingman commit DeAundre Ballard.

With bigger, longer guards, White hopes to build a team that can be more effective in the zone press. The Gators pressed at times early last season, but by SEC play, used it only in short spurts while relying more on conventional halfcourt defense.

Former Florida coach Billy Donovan had a different philosophy — and success — in targeting smaller, quicker guards with shooting ability. In a sense, it was a reflection of Donovan himself, an overachieving 5-11 guard at Providence. Notable smaller guards that had successful careers at Florida included Teddy Dupay (5-11), Erving Walker (5-8), Taurean Green (6-1), Anthony Roberson (6-2) and Kenny Boynton (6-2).  Two exceptions were Matt Walsh (6-6) and Bradley Beal (6-4).

Hudson, who will have to sit out next season per Division I transfer rules, is an intriguing prospect for the Gators because of his size and scoring ability. In two seasons at Virginia Tech, Hudson scored 20 or more points five times, including a career-high 32 points as a freshman against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament. But consistency was an issue. He’ll begin his UF career as a junior in 2017-18 and will hope to have similar success as another Virginia Tech-to-UF transfer, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who finished his UF career as a 1,000-point scorer and is a projected second round pick in this June’s NBA Draft.

Other notes:

— Here’s an excellent read on Donovan by Mike Lupica entering Game 1 of Oklahoma City’s showdown in the Western Conference Finals with defending NBA champion Golden State. The theme — don’t count out Donovan, as not many expected the Thunder to get past the San Antonio Spurs.