Gators reloading for another title run?
Billy Donovan is excited about returning just about everyone from last year’s Florida team that made it back to the NCAA tournament.
He’s got experience and depth, but the Gators' head coach still isn’t quite ready to anoint his guys as Final Four contenders.
"These guys still haven’t won a tournament game,” Donovan said. "There’s a feel-good excitement about the potential of this team, but they can’t lose sight of the work they need to put in."
With Alex Tyus opting to return to Gainesville for his senior year, the only loss is that is veteran forward Dan Werner — and Donovan will bring in a recruiting class that’s led by athletic big man Patric Young.
Young, who is an immediate impact guy, could start alongside Vernon Macklin up front, or Donovan could go small.
"We’ll have some options,” Donovan said. "We can be a big, physical team or a quick, athletic team.”
That’s something Donovan hasn’t had down in Gainesville in a while.
You’ve got a host of big bodies up front with Macklin, Young, Tyus, Erik Murphy, Cody Larson and Will Yeguete.
Chandler Parsons will likely start at small forward, and the backcourt, featuring Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, isn’t just a year older; it’s been upgraded with the addition of Casey Prather.
Florida may not be what it was a few years back when the Gators won back-to-back national titles, but they are now in a position to make a deep tournament run over the next few years.
While it’s highly unlikely Donovan re-lands one-time Florida commit Austin Rivers, he’ll add another big-time guard in two years with Brad Beal, who was the MVP of the U-17 team that won the gold medal in Germany earlier this month.
In two years, the perimeter down in Gainesville will feature Walker, Boynton, Beal and Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario with a backcourt of Yong, Murphy, Larson and Yeguete.
— Jeff Goodman
Oak Hill reloads for next season
Oak Hill Academy (Va.) coach Steve Smith was, as usual, sporting his summer golf tan while checking out a few of his future players down at the Peach Jam.
Smith doesn’t have too much recruiting these days, and that’s why he’s able to hit the links.
This year’s group, in fact, is more potent than it’s been over the last few years.
"It’s the deepest team we’ve had since 2004,” Smith said. "I think all of our top nine guys are Division I players."
It’ll start with senior point guard Quinn Cook, but Smith will also have wings Ben McLemore, Jordan Adams, Damien Wilson and Torian Graham as well as big men Sidiki Johnson, A.J. Hammons and Daniel Gomis. Keith Hornsby will also return from last year’s team.
— Jeff Goodman
Jones shining bright at Peach Jam
- When your flanked by Tubby Smith and Tom Izzo during a 16-and-under game at the Peach Jam, there's usually a good reason. On Monday, that reason was Tyrus Jones. A 6-foot point guard out of Apple Valley, Minn., Jones was the main attraction — and a good one. With national championship eyeballs staring him down, the 2014 (yes, we said 2014) soon-to-be freshman put on a show.
- If Justin Timberlake can bring sexy back, maybe Jones will be good enough to do the same for the bounce pass! He threw dimes nearly the length of the floor and looked remarkably comfortable for a young man with no big-game experience. It's unique to see a player this young, yet so polished. Had other coaches known his talent level, the crowd would have been more impressed. Regardless, this point guard is now on the map, and he'll be a must-see sooner than later for the nation's best programs. Just wait until he gets a high school game under his belt!
— Dave Telep