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Donovan's recruiting gaze shifts to South Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan has made a commitment to recruiting South Florida in recent years and the work appears to be paying off. Donovan picked up his second commitment from the area on Thursday for the Gators' recruiting class of 2008.

Eloy Vargas, a 6-10 power forward from Plantation American Heritage, joins Ray Shipman of Miami Monsignor Pace as the Gators' South Florida arm of Florida's highly rated recruiting class. Shipman, a 6-3 small forward, committed to Donovan several months ago.

Vargas Vargas, the second 6-10 commitment of the 2008 recruiting class, has drawn comparisons to former Florida great Joakim Noah. While Vargas is flattered by the compliments, the Dominican Republic native says he's a better offensive player than Noah.

"We're different because I can shoot and dribble better," Vargas said.

Like a teenaged Noah, Vargas will need to put on a few pounds before he makes the transition to college basketball. His mid-range jumper, however, comes ready-made and will be difficult for teams to defend against.

Vargas says he migrated to South Florida three years ago for the opportunity at a better life and a possible future in basketball. He didn't speak any English when he first moved and there is still a slight language barrier between himself and English-speaking reporters. His game translates, however, and that's all that matters.

Vargas says that Spanish speaking Florida point guard Walter Hodge accompanied him during his official visit to Gainesville. Hodge, not lacking in the personality department, is quite the salesman, according to Vargas.

"We had a lot of fun," Vargas said.

Expect Donovan to continuing recruiting the South Florida area for at least the next two years. Vargas' high school teammate, Kenny Boynton Jr., is a premier shooting guard. Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest features sophomore point guard Brandon Knight is considered the best at his position in the country.

"Florida is recruiting [Boynton Jr. and Knight] very hard," Vargas said.

2008 commitments: Allan Chaney (6-8, 220) New London, Conn.; Kenny Kadji (6-10, 240) Bradenton; Ray Shipman (6-3, 180) Opa Locka; Eloy Vargas (6-10, 210) Hollywood; Erving Walker (5-6, 140) Middle Village, N.Y.



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