The state of Florida was good to Billy Donovan over the weekend. First, the Gators' head coach received a verbal commitment from 2007 prospect Gary Clark. Just an hour later, Marreese Speights decided to join the fun. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound power forward from Admiral Farragut High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., committed to the SEC program after playing at the school over the weekend at an AAU tournament.
Coming off a visit to Memphis last week, Speights hit the road again this time making the short trip to Gainesville. After playing in the Travel Basketball Championship, Speights met with the Florida staff and decided to give his pledge to the Gators.
"I've known them for over an year and I just felt like I have a good relationship with them," Speights said. "I've been wanting to go at all along.
"My mom had a meeting with the coaches today and they were telling her about the academic side of things and tutors they have there. She really liked that about them."
Matt Ramker, one of Speights's AAU coaches, believes the big man has a bright future as a Gator.
"He has a chance to develop into one of the elite post players in the country," Ramker said. "He'll be one of the best big men in the country the minute he steps foot on college campus. He's that good."
The Gators plan to utilize Speights's ability to play both inside and out.
"I talked to coach to them today and he said I have the skills like dribbling more on the wing and do things with the ball in my hands," Speights said. "I think I can do things a lot Matt Bonner. I can play down low and up top."
Florida also provides Speights an opportunity to play close to home and in the nation's spotlight, Ramker says.
"Florida has a big time coach at high level program plus he can be close to his family," Ramker said. "It was the best of both worlds for him."
Speights will play at Hargrave Military Academy next season. He is the first player to commit to Florida in the class of 2006. Speights also considered Florida State, Memphis, Miami and South Florida.