March 9, 2014

Soundoff: Basketball prospects talk big win

Florida had several recruits on hand for Saturday's 84-65 victory over Kentucky. Inside The Gators caught up with some of the players to get their take on the experience.

Saturday's game against Kentucky offered an up-close look at Florida basketball for several promising recruits and three signees in the 2014 class.

Florida got the 84-65 win with signees Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson on hand as well as Pembroke Pines Charter's Haanif Cheatham, Montrose Christian's Noah Dickerson, Lake Brantley's John Mooney, Ransom Everglades' Alonzo "Trey" Mourning III and Rockwall's (TX) Austin Grandstaff. Arlington Country Day teammates Brandone Francis, a 2014 signee, and Lamonte Turner were unable to attend because their team was playing in the Sunshine Independent Athletic Association state championship game on Saturday.

Afterwards some of the players had a chance to meet the team, see the locker room and get a feel for what it's like to be a Florida Gator. The staff rolled out the red carpet for Mourning, who was on an official visit.

Here is what the recruits had to say about their experiences:

  • Chris Chiozza: "The game was one of the best games I've ever been to. The crowd was on its feet the whole game jumping up and down. The atmosphere is just chaotic and I can't wait to play here. The team is like one big family, always with one another like brothers and the campus is the biggest I've been on. It just has everything you can imagine."

    The Skinny: Chiozza signed to play with the Gators in November. At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds he will need to get stronger but he is lightning quick and has great court vision. He is a true pass first point guard that enjoys facilitating for his teammates.

  • Trey Mourning: "It was a fantastic experience. I loved the atmosphere, the crowd was great, the guys on the team were great. Campus was awesome as well, I loved my trip. I've got some other visits to take, so we'll see what happens, but Florida will be in my thoughts."

    The Skinny:The 6-foot-9 Mourning can score in a variety of ways, not just put backs. He has range out to 22 feet on his jump shot which has a high release point. Originally Florida was going to be his second official visit, but Mourning had to reschedule his visit to Georgetown, his father Alonzo's alma mater, due to a snow storm. He's expected to visit Duke in the next two-three weeks as well. A decision could come soon after all three visits are completed.

  • Noah Dickerson: "The crowd was great. The whole stadium was roaring the whole game. The team was cool guys. They were really fun to hang out with and talk to after the game. They all said this was the best decision of their life. The campus is smaller than I first expected. There's 50,000 students, but it doesn't have that big of a campus which I like. The campus is also beautiful."

    The Skinny: At 6-foot-8, 255 pounds Dickerson is a strong PF that can bang down low. He has good feet, hands and post moves. His transfer to Montverde Academy will make it easier for Dickerson to visit campus and for the Gators staff to see him during recruiting periods. He has mentioned that he's looking for a program that runs their offense thru their post guys.

  • Austin Grandstaff: "The game was great! The fans were crazy and the guys on the team were really cool. Campus is beautiful."

    The Skinny: At 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, Grandstaff has desirable size and length for either guard position. He's the son of a coach and knows how to play the game. Speaking of "game" his has some wiggle in it. He's a skilled and fearless competitor that plays under control. Grandstaff came to campus from Texas on his own dime without an offer from Florida but he left Gainesville with one.

  • Haanif Cheatham: "The game was really good. The atmosphere was really crazy I enjoyed it. I met with Coach Donovan and he told me that he wants to see more of me."

    The Skinny: Cheatham is one of the best juniors in Florida. At 6-foot-5 Cheatham is a natural on the perimeter, getting his teammates involved, hitting jump shots or slashing to the rim. He has great instincts and a very good feel for the game. Like Grandstaff, Cheatham came to campus without an offer. Unlike Grandstaff, he left Gainesville without one.

  • John Mooney: "I really feel fortunate to have been a part of today. I really respect the seniors and the commitment they've made to the program. It was really special to experience the fans and their energy help the team win. I've always admired Coach Donovan's team, attitude, character and enthusiasm. Today was just another example of why it's great to be a Florida Gator."

    The Skinny: Mooney, a 2016 commit, is as skilled as they come. He can play inside or outside. The sophomore has good post moves and can extend the defense with his face-up game; Mooney is a good rebounder and runs the floor well.

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