Florida’s 2013 men’s basketball recruiting class is currently ranked number one by most major national recruiting websites.
But that recruiting class could stay number one with the signing of another big-time recruit who is visiting UF’s campus this weekend.
Power forward/center Julius Randle, the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2013, will be on town on his official visit for the Florida-LSU game. He’ll be hard to miss. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Randle has a body type similar to former Gator power forward Al Horford. He’s not quite Patric Young-sized, but on a college weight training plan, would likely fill out his frame.
“He’s excited about (the visit),” said Chris Mayberry, Randle’s high school coach at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas. “He went to Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, so this will be his second official visit.”
Randle trimmed his list to six schools earlier this week. Florida is on the list with Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina State, Oklahoma and Texas.
“He’s clearly a special, special, player,” said Mayberry, who took over as Prestonwood’s coach last season. “He’s very coachable. He’s a kid who is looking to get better each day, each week and each month.”
Mayberry said Randle spent most of the summer working on his perimeter game, “He’s really developed his shooting touch,” he said. “He’s a guy that wants to be a threat on all spots of the floor.”
Randle’s interest in UF is an example of Florida coach Billy Donovan’s offseason stint with USA Basketball paying recruiting dividends. Donovan coached Randle last June during Team USA’s gold medal-winning performance in the FIBA Americas Championships in Brazil.
“I don’t know if the interest level (in Florida) would be there had Julius not played for Coach Donovan,” Mayberry said. “I think he saw that Billy cared about him as a person as much as a basketball player.”
Having previously coached at Orlando First Academy, Mayberry has a strong relationship with Donovan. Mayberry coached current Florida freshman shooting guard Dillon Graham for three seasons.
“Knowing Billy the way I do, he’s a very personable guy and I know he’s already made a good impression on Julius,” Mayberry said.
Florida already has commitments from the number six (point guard Kasey Hill) and number eight (forward Chris Walker) prospects in the Class of 2013. Both are expected to sign letters of intent next month. Randle is on record saying that he will not make his official announcement until next spring.
“I don’t see him making a quick decision,” Mayberry said. “He’s going to go through the process, take all of his visits.”
Randle isn’t the only big man Florida is targeting in 2013. Last week, Donovan and Marquette coach Buzz Williams went to a private workout at The Rock School in Gainesville to watch 6-foot-11 2013 center Joel Embiid. A source close to Embiid said Donovan came away impressed with the workout.
Florida currently has 14 scholarship players on its roster, one over its scholarship limit. That includes a pair of transfers (Center Damontre Harris and forward Dorian Finney-Smith) who won’t be eligible to play until 2013-14. The Gators will lose at least three players following this season — senior guard Kenny Boynton, senior guard Mike Rosario and senior forward Erik Murphy. Junior forward Patric Young could also possibly declare for the NBA draft if he has a strong season.
If Young leaves, Florida would have 10 scholarship players remaining. That would open up a third spot for Randle or another prospect from the 2013 class.