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Florida Gators Four Seniors put Onus for Future on 2014 Class

Florida Gators are Ranked #1 in Recent AP Poll

Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators team ended the regular season ranked #1 overall with a 27-2 record. Following back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, the team heads into the NCAA Tournament with eyes towards a National Championship. The season has been a smashing success, with the Gators’ experienced starting rotation breaking through in a way that few had expected. While there is still plenty of work to do in the postseason, the ensuing seasons will mark a big transition for Billy Donovan’s program.

 

Few observers could have expected the Gators’ four starting seniors to spearhead a national title contender. Players like Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin had seen minutes on those last two tournament teams, yet they had not shown the potential Donovan hoped when they came to Gainesville. Yet Wilbekin ended up being named SEC Player of the Year this season and Young looks like a prospect as a draft pick this year. With the strength and experience of these four seniors, the Gators were able to go undefeated in conference play and secure a sure top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

 

With those considerations in mind, a look towards next year’s class could help predict the landscape for the 2014-15 college basketball season. Of their three-man class, small forward Devin Robinson out of Christchurch, Virginia is the highlight. Ranked as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com the 6’8 player was seen as a top-20 player nationally. Robinson was recruited by teams as far off as Oklahoma State and Indiana, but chose Florida, staying relatively close to home. Robinson has shown a developed scoring ability,m averaging 25.1 points per game in his senior season, and should be a key player for next year’s team. 

 

Point guard Chris Chiozza was an early recruit for Florida and looks to be a key playmaker next season. Chiozza is a smaller guard at 5’9, yet he has shown a quickness and attacking style that could be dangerous for SEC opponents who underestimate him. Chiozza has been ranked in the top 40 by Rivals and will be a serious backcourt threat for the next potential Gators contender.

 

Brandone Francis rounds out the Gators’ three-man class. Francis is a 6’5 shooting guard out of Jacksonville, Florida so he’ll be staying close to home at Gainesville. Francis has the size and toughness to play as a two-guard yet the ball-handling skills of a point guard. Francis had a large recruitment, with teams like Connecticut, Miami, Louisville and Kansas all sending scholarship offers. Francis’s commitment to Florida shows the inroads Donovan has developed in his 18-year tenure at the school.

 

The three-man class will be an exciting follow-up after this year’s seniors leave. Florida has had good fortune in this class developing at the same time, and it will be difficult to replicate that success. However, the talent will be there and with potential returning players Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier II, Florida should be a force in the SEC once again.