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2 posts from November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012

Florida, Donovan sign pair of five-star recruits for 2013

Florida coach Billy Donovan inked Wednesday his most impressive class in recent years, receiving letters of intents from the state's top two recruits in point guard Kasey Hill and power forward Chris Walker.

Hill and Walker are both consensus top-10 players nationally and provide Donovan with a duo of top-flight talent comparable or better than any he has had as Florida's coach.

"How they rank to the rest of the country, doesn’t really matter to me because there are so many things they bring to the table,” Donovan said in a release on the school's website. "Being in-state guys, I’ve had a chance to watch them grow over a three-year period and I understand what we’ll be getting. They’re athletic, with speed and quickness and competiveness. They both have a chance to have tremendous careers here."

And in the NBA.

Last year's one-and-done shooting guard Brad Beal was the first of that type of player Donovan has recruited to be a Gator -- even the 2004 class that won back-to-back national championships did not have a five-star recruit or one ranked in the top 30 nationally. Both Hill and Walker are projected as NBA talents, and it will be interesting to see how they develop and how long Donovan can hold onto them.

At 6-1, 170 pounds from Eustis Montverde Academy, Hill brings a complete game to the point guard spot, providing Donovan with a weapon that's equally good at distributing as he is at scoring and creating for his teammates.

"He just as a presence on the floor," Donovan said in the release. "Great vision."

Walker (6-10, 195) from Bonifay Holmes County High has the explosiveness and athleticism to be a factor around the rim from his first game in Gainesville. He's raw, but has a high motor, something that can't be taught.

"The best frontcourt players to come through here -- the Horfords, Haslems, Bonners, Noahs -- they could all really run," assistant coach Matt McCall told the website. "And Chris Walker can really run."


Muschamp stands by Floyd in wake of USA Today article


(AP Photo)


As he did last year when the then-sophomore defensive tackle was suspended by the NCAA, Florida coach Will Muschamp on Wednesday defended Sharrif Floyd and any criticism as a result of an article outlining his "unprecedented" adoption.

In the article that ran Tuesday in the USA Today, Rachel George reports that Floyd was legally adopted by Kevin Lahn, the man responsible for providing Floyd with $2,500 in impermissible benefits that led to his 2011 suspension. It's a controversial situation because it's being viewed by some as a potential loophole to circumvent NCAA bylaws that prevent such benefits. Now that Lahn is an legal guardian for Floyd, the vice president of a commercial real estate company is free to provide for Floyd as any other parent provides for a child that also happens to be a student-athlete -- essentially, spoiling your own child isn't an NCAA violation.

Since adopting Floyd in December, Lahn has leased him a 2012 Ford Explorer XLT and an apartment, signed Floyd up for a credit card and provided for him to take a trip to Disney World and then to Miami for his 21st birthday, where he was joined by teammates Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley for steak and lobster dinners at the Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel and a trip aboard an 80-foot, $3 million yacht, according to the article.

But Muschamp said Wednesday he was never concerned about Floyd's eligility, and he delivered strong words in support of Floyd.

"I knew everything, absolutely not ever worried about any eligibility issues," Muschamp said. "Sharrif is a fine young man, everything is above board that the University of Florida has handled with Sharrif and Kevin Lahn.

"What is wrong with someone caring about someone else? What is so bad about that is my question. The young man has done nothing wrong."

The people who criticize the situation see the potential for exploitation by people such as agents, runners, AAU coaches and the like looking to capitalize on the future financial gain of elite athletes. It could quickly become a slippery-slope situation, some believe.

The counter to that is that each case must be judged individually. Floyd comes from a difficult family situation, one similar to former Ole Miss and current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, who was also adopted by a wealthy family. Why doesn't he deserve to have support like so many others have? Whose to say that Lahn and his wife Tiffany don't care about Floyd as their own? According to the article, Lahn said Floyd's great grandmother, who helped raise him, signed off on the adoption. Florida's compliance department knew about it and approved it. And it does not appear that the NCAA will investigate or that any sanctions are likely.

Muschamp certainly isn't worried.

"My statements speak for themselves and what I said a year ago, and I stand by it today," he said Wednesday.

George's article is a very interesting read and certainly worth your time. Give it a look if you haven't already. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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