Florida’s incoming 2014 class will arrive on campus when the second summer session starts at the end of the month.
Of the three incoming freshmen, the one that has created the most intrigue is 6-foot-8 forward Devin Robinson. The Chesterfield, Va., native is considered the most talented of the class. As a fifth-year prep student at Christchurch School in Christchurch, Va., Robinson wasn’t eligible to make the McDonald’s All-American team.
In his projected UF starting lineup for the 2014-15, CBSSports.com national basketball analyst Gary Parrish listed Robinson as a starter. The Gators are in need of a wing player to replace Casey Prather, and Robinson fits the mold of a true small forward.
“He would have been a McDonald’s All-American if he were eligible,” Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. “He’s that level talent. I think Devin can be immediate contributor. For his size, he can really score the basketball and he improved greatly between his junior and senior year of high school.”
The last freshman who wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American that started for the Gators in their season opener was Matt Walsh in 2002-03. Florida loses four starters from a team that went 36-3 and reached the Final Four for the fifth time in school history. The lone returning starter, shooting guard Michael Frazier II, will likely be joined by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill, junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith and sophomore forward/center Chris Walker. But the fifth spot at this point is up for grabs and will likely come down to transfer center Jon Horford, junior transfer guard Eli Carter (if fully healthy), junior forward DeVon Walker and Robinson.
Finney-Smith proved he could play both small forward and power forward last season. But Florida coach Billy Donovan preferred Finney-Smith at the power forward spot because of his rebounding ability. At small forward, Finney-Smith was at times turnover prone putting the ball on the floor and was inconsistent shooting from the wing. Finney-Smith shot just 29.3 percent from 3-point range last season, which included a seven-game stretch in January and February in which he missed 22 straight 3-point attempts.
Robinson averaged 25.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks as a senior at Christchurch School. His high school coach at Christchurch, Ben Thompson, praised Robinson’s leadership ability and considers him to be more offensively polished than Finney-Smith was coming out of high school.
The big question will come on defense. Robinson currently weighs just 180 pounds, which would make banging against bigger bodies in the Southeastern Conference a challenge. But given UF basketball strength coach Preston Greene’s track record, Robinson should put on some size and muscle mass over the summer.
Asked about Robinson’s defense, Daniels said: “I think he’s improved as a shot-blocker. He’s a good athlete who is coachable and as he gets stronger I think he’ll continue to grow in that area.”