There are 146 days until UF men's basketball takes the court against North Florida to open the 2019 season. When it does, it’ll have six new faces.
According to 247Sports, the Gators have the seventh-best recruiting class in the nation. It consists of two five-star recruits, one four-star and two three-stars. The class will also gain one transfer.
The two headliners of coach Mike White’s 2019 class come in its two five-star recruits, Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann.
Hailing from Eatontown, New Jersey, Lewis’ prowess at the shooting guard position has earned him plenty of accolades. He was named a Third-Team Naismith All-American and participated in the McDonald’s All-American game in March, where he went 4-of-7 from the field and netted 10 points and four steals. Lewis is 247Sports’ No. 7 recruit for 2019.
UF’s other five-star in Mann won’t have to travel far to get to Gainesville, as he attended The Villages Charter School in The Villages, Florida. Mann was also a part of the McDonald’s All-American Game, though he didn’t perform as well as Lewis: the point guard went 2-of-7 from the field with just five points, but he did manage to nab three rebounds.
Regardless, the two should play important roles on the offensive side for Florida rather quickly, and the guards can complement the young returning pair of Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke.
UF’s four-star recruit is another Florida native. Omar Payne, a 6-foot-9 forward from Kissimmee, will join a roster that benefitted from a relatively successful freshman season from forward Keyontae Johnson last year. Payne is ranked No. 46 in the 247Sports rankings, and he netted a double-double in the 2017 state semifinals with 10 points and 10 blocks.
Florida’s three-stars aren’t as highly decorated, but they could still have plenty to offer a team coming off an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.
Ques Glover, a point guard from Knoxville, Tennessee, was the MVP in Tennessee’s state tournament and averaged 21 points per game as a senior. Jason Jitoboh, a 6-foot-11 center from Abuja, Nigeria, averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds on the Nike EYBL circuit last year and helped his high school, Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, hit No. 25 on MaxPreps final Top 100 high school rankings.
Finally, Florida will have a new addition with college experience to cap off its incoming class of new recruits. Anthony Duruji spent his freshman and sophomore years at Louisiana Tech, where he averaged 9.7 points and 5.1 rebounds and also amassed 85 blocked shots in 65 games. Duruji enters UF as one of its three upperclassmen, and he should provide a veteran presence for the wave of young recruits the Gators will add to the roster for the upcoming season.
Florida failed to meet high expectations in 2018, but with a top-10 recruiting class and added veteran presence, the Gators will hope to make a deeper run into the tournament come next March.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells. Contact him at [email protected].