GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- About the same time the Florida basketball team was wrapping up its game-day shoot-around in advance of Wednesday night’s big game against Wisconsin, a future UF player was answering his cell phone.
“It feels great that it’s actually over and I can just start working on the things I need to do better by the time I get there,” said Kasey Hill (pictured far right). “Man, I’m so excited, I wish I could play in that game tonight.”
Hill, the highly ranked point guard out of Montverde (Fla.) Academy, and Chris Walker, the Panhandle power forward from Bonifay who rates among the best at his position in the country, signed national letters of intent Wednesday to attend UF and play for the Gators starting in 2013-14.
“It feels good to officially be part of the family and be able to call myself a Gator,” said Walker (pictured far left).
With a class of two players both of whom carry consensus top-10 ratings, the Gators checked with with one of the best signing classes in the nation. Depending on what service, Florida was among all the top five classes trailing only Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and Memphis, with the Gators still working on some prospects from the spring signing period.
Coach Billy Donovan and his staff not only plucked the two best prospects in the state, but also two guys who played together on one of the nation’s best AAU teams -- the Florida Rams (see crazy video below, courtesy of Home Team Hoops -- and figure to thrive in the Gators’ up-tempo style as much as UF's half-court pick-and-roll system.
“It’s perfect for us,” Walker said.
Picture Hill (6-foot-1, 170) and Walker (6-9, 220) working ball-screens in the halfcourt, ala Taurean Green and Al Horford, or Hill's blazing ball speed getting the Gators out in transition and feeding Walker for a finish off the wing.
“I feel like I’m a pure point guard,” Hill said. “I like to show that I can actually run the halfcourt offense, but most of the time I’d probably say I like to get out and go and do my thing.”
Both guys know the games of -- and in some cases have played with -- current UF players such as Will Yeguete, Patric Young, Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier, along with red-shirting transfers Dorian Finney-Smith and Damontre Harris. Collectively the UF team that takes the court next October could be one of the most athletic teams Donovan has ever had.
But that’s a whole year away.
The Gators off to a nice little start following Wednesday’s wipeout of the No. 22 Badgers, and both Hill and Walker have high school senior seasons to enjoy.
We'll hear much, much more from both of them in about 11 months.
“It doesn’t seem that far away to me, at all,” Hill said. “From the time I committed (last winter) to signing period felt like it flew by, so I’ll probably be a Gator before I even know it.”