Florida basketball is set to host five in-state, 2024 prospects on its campus this weekend as unofficial visitors, a source told Swamp247 on Thursday afternoon. 247Sports national basketball recruiting analyst Travis Branham also confirmed Florida’s list of visitors.
Gainesville (Fla.) The Rock School forward RJ Jones, a 247Sports Composite five-star prospect ranked No. 23 overall, No. 3 among 2024 power forwards and No. 5 among in-state prospects, headlines the Gators’ list of visitors, which also includes Montverde (Fla.) Academy four-star power forward Asa NewellThe Rock School unranked forward Sammie YeanayThe Rock School unranked guard Cameron Wright and Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep unranked guard Isaiah Brown.
A 6-foot-8, 200-pound local prospect, Jones has reportedly attracted nine scholarship offers, a list that includes Florida, Illinois and LSU, among others. Jones announced he received a scholarship offer from the Gators’ new coaching staff on May 11.
Newell, a 6-foot-9, 205-pound prospect who plays for one of Florida’s premier basketball prep schools, has reportedly fielded offers from 10 programs across the country, including four SEC programs: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Ole Miss.
While he remains unranked on the industry-generated 247Sports Composite and the 247Sports independent rankings, Yeanay visited Florida unofficially on June 28, which he called an “eye-opening experience” as he had opportunities to converse with Florida associate head coach Carlin Hartman and head coach Todd Goldenamong others, in addition to receiving a comprehensive tour of the university, which included a stop in Florida’s basketball practice facility in the early afternoon shortly after the team finished a summer workout.
Yeanay said his day was highlighted by his time around Florida’s players, one of whom, forward Alex Fudge, was quick to offer compliments. The Gators offered Yeanay a scholarship on July 14. Alabama, Houston, Jacksonville and North Florida have also reportedly extended offers to the 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward.
“I truly liked the players,” Yeanay said. “They showed me a lot of love and talked to me and gave me advice. That meant a lot and it’s what I like about Florida. Alex and I were talking and he was saying how he likes Gainesville and then he told me that I look like a good player. He’s from LSU and he knows a lot so it feels really good for him to say that about me.”
Wright and Brown have not reported offers from the Gators but have received no shortage of interest on the recruiting front. A 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard, Wright has reportedly fielded offers from 12 programs, the same number Brown, a 6-foot-3, 170-pound prospect who plays the same position, has received.
The Gators’ list of unofficial visitors for the weekend of Sept. 2 is the latest example of their commitment to mining in-state talent, something Golden spoke about during his introductory press conference in March.
The 36-year-old said he has an opportunity to market the university’s facilities and resources, which were limited or nonexistent during his San Francisco tenure.
“We didn’t have nice facilities, we didn’t have a dedicated strength coach, we didn’t have an academic counselor,” Golden said. “We had all these challenges that we were still able to navigate through and build a top-22 team in the country last year.”
Despite being just months into their Florida tenure, Golden and his staff have already made strides towards their goal of improving in-state recruiting at the university relative to the last several years. Ranked No. 11 in the state of Florida on the independent 247Sports rankings, Florida freshman guard Riley Kugel became the first top-15 prospect from the state to commit to the Gators since Tre Mann (No. 3) oath Omar Payne (No. 9) in 2019, which also marked the last time the Gators secured a commitment from an in-state high schooler other than a 2022 prospect Denzel Aberdeena three-star guard.
And while former Florida head coach Mike White was able to earn the pledges of top-15 in-state players in 2018 (Andrew Nembhardt) and 2017 (Isaiah Stokes), neither player lasted more than two seasons in a Gator uniform. Nembhard transferred to Gonzaga after two years in Gainesville while Stokes transferred to Memphis after just one campaign.
Golden has expressed a goal to “build a fence” around the state of Florida and mine his talent. He said it shouldn’t be too hard to sell his program to in-state athletes and that process started with securing Kugel.
“Since 2000, University of Florida Gators men’s basketball players have made over $1 billion in the NBA,” Golden said in March. “We have everything we need here to compete at the championship level. I’ve spent time in the iconic O’Dome last night, was blown away to see the renovations inside the Exactech Arena that were in 2016, basically the year after I left Auburn. We have the $25 million Hawkins Center that was opened in 2016 as well that helps student-athletes from a development and personal standpoint.”