It’s been a tough year for recruiting big guys for Florida coach Billy Donovan.
After losing out on Jarnell Stokes to Tennessee, Robert Carter to Georgia Tech and Alex Poythress to Kentucky, the Gators suffered another blow when McDonald’s All-American big man Anthony Bennett eliminated Florida from consideration on Friday.
Worse yet, the 6-foot-7, 235-pound Bennett could end up at rival Kentucky. Kentucky remains in Bennett’s final three with Oregon and UNLV.
Florida made its big push for Bennett in March, but contrary to popular belief, was never the frontrunner for the Canadian big ma. Bennett, who spent this season at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, Nev., to work on both basketball and academics, kept putting off his official visit to UF and never made it to campus.
The Gators still have one scholarship to give and could use it on 6-foot-10, 240-pound Bradley Hayes of Jacksonville. Hayes, a two-star recruit, hasn’t been offered a scholarship from UF yet but has Florida in his final four with UConn, Texas A&M and Georgetown.
Also, Florida has South Carolina 6-foot-9 transfer Damontre Harris visit this week. But unless Harris receives a waiver, he will have to sit out the 2012-13 season. He can practice with the Gators, though, and that along could help the development of returning junior Florida big man Patric Young.
Looking ahead to 2013, the Gators could turn their focus to 6-foot-9 forward/center Chris Walker of Bonifay (Holmes County). Florida, Ohio State, Florida State and Kansas have offered scholarships to Walker.
Florida’s current 2012 recruiting class included point guard Braxton Ogbueze, shooting guard Michael Frazier, shooting guard Dillon Graham and small forward DeVon Walker. If it stands, it would be UF’s first recruiting class without a McDonald’s All-American since 2008.
Here’s a story from SNY.com’s Adam Zagoria that says playing time and Bradley Beal’s departure for the NBA Draft played a role in Bennett’s decision to eliminate Florida.