Florida basketball recruiting: Arkansas guard KeVaughn Allen commits to Gators

Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

Florida pulled a commitment from one of the most interesting prospects in the class of 2015 on Wednesday night. And the ramifications are manifold.

KeVaughn Allen, a combo guard from North Little Rock High in Arkansas rated as a four- or five-star prospect in the class of 2015, committed to Florida on Wednesday night. And so I learned of KeVaughn Allen (or is it Kevaughn?) at the same moment that most of the rest of the Florida fan base did.

Allen's a five-star prospect in ESPN's eyes, a four-star player according to 247Sports and the 247Sports Composite, and a four-star player per Rivals. He's alternately 6'2" and 165 pounds (247 and Rivals) or 6'3" and 170 pounds (ESPN). And he projects as a shooting guard who can handle the ball, something like a taller Kenny Boynton without the rep as a prolific scorer — his highlights show off his ability in the open court and as a driver, and his impressively lanky frame for a guard.

But, as with fellow Wednesday commitment Jalen Julius, Allen's pledge to Florida is interesting because of the ramifications it might have beyond Allen's own commitment.

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Most Florida fans who follow the Gators' basketball recruiting religiously — all 75 of us! — thought that Florida was likely to go after Florida guard Antonio Blakeney and Texas sharpshooter Austin Grandstaff on the wing in the class of 2015, largely because Florida appears to have its point guard of the present in Kasey Hill and its point guard of the future in Chris Chiozza, and has plenty of depth on the wing at the moment, with Michael Frazier and DeVon Walker looking like the starter and backup at shooting guard, and Eli Carter, Brandone Francis, and Dillon Graham waiting in the wings. Both Blakeney (6'4", with some thrilling hops) and Grandstaff (6'5") are bigger players who can guard small forwards; they would fit better as big wings than combo guards, and Florida fans who have been vexed by the Gators' shorter backcourts in recent memory prefer the former to the latter.

And given that glut of wing players, and Florida's significant stock of frontcourt players, it's reasonable to assume that Allen, Blakeney, and Grandstaff might have been jockeying for a single scholarship slot ... which might explain this Grandstaff tweet, which was sent shortly after Allen's commitment hit Twitter.

Grandstaff's also been retweeting pro-Florida stuff since, so he still seems interested in Florida. And ESPN's Paul Biancardi tweeted that Allen's commitment won't affect Grandstaff.

But, based on Florida's scholarship numbers, at least one of three things is seemingly true: Allen's commitment has to affect either Blakeney or Grandstaff, Florida's expecting attrition, or the Gators are completely done recruiting forwards for the 2015 class.

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Here's Florida's current projected scholarship chart.

2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Eli Carter Carter Chiozza Chiozza
Chris Chiozza Chiozza Francis Francis
Dorian Finney-Smith Finney-Smith Graham Robinson
Brandone Francis Francis Hill Allen
Michael Frazier II Frazier II Robinson Hayes
Dillon Graham Graham C. Walker Mooney
Damontre Harris1 Hill Allen
Kasey Hill Murphy Hayes
Jon Horford2 Robinson John Mooney
Alex Murphy C. Walker
Devin Robinson D. Walker
Chris Walker KeVaughn Allen
DeVon Walker Kevarrius Hayes

Counting Damontre Harris1, Florida has the maximum 13 scholarships "committed" for the 2014-15 season. Counting the recruits currently committed to Florida, Florida also has the maximum 13 scholarships committed for the 2015-16 season — and one single scholarship committed to a player over 6'9".

And that player is Chris Walker, which is troubling, because I don't think there's a person inside or outside the Florida program that thinks Chris Walker's returning for his junior season in Gainesville, barring something catastrophic. The Gators don't currently have a big man other than Hayes, more long than big, set to be a part of the team in the 2015-16 season.

If Florida's going to still nab one or the other of Blakeney and Grandstaff, it needs attrition of some sort; Walker's early entry into the 2015 NBA Draft is likely to be the source of that. But if Florida's going to get at least one or the other of Blakeney and Grandstaff and a big, it needs attrition from someone other than Walker.

That could come in the form of Dorian Finney-Smith or Kasey Hill leaving early for the NBA. It could come from Carter or Graham, both medically redshirted in 2013-14, receiving a medical hardship waiver, or from Graham, a Florida resident who is theoretically eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship, giving up his athletic scholarship. It could come from a transfer, though I'd be hard-pressed to name a likely transfer candidate.

The point is, without attrition, Florida's either going to be able to add another guard or another big in the 2015 recruiting class, and not both. And because I can't imagine Florida prefers that either/or prospect, I'd bank on attrition.

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Getting back to Allen: His commitment to Florida was a bit of a surprise not only because of Florida's supposed interest in Blakeney and Grandstaff, but because Allen was one of the few Arkansas prospects in recent memory who was supposedly interested in staying home in Arkansas.

Arkansas Fight — which published an on-the-scene report from a game Allen played against 2016 super-recruit Malik Monk in March — paints the bleak picture of the Razorbacks' failure to keep in-state prospects within Hog Country's borders, and that's all well and good. But Twitter has been a gold mine for Arkansas fan reactions since last night.

There is very little reason for Florida, clearly Arkansas's current superior in hoops, to be crowing about stealing an in-state recruit from Arkansas, but recruiting's still a zero-sum game, and taking a recruit from another SEC team's stronghold is doubly beneficial because of it.

And it's clear that there are still two Goliaths in the SEC — Florida and Kentucky — and a lot of other teams playing catch-up. Florida doesn't recruit on Kentucky's level, but no one in college basketball recruits on the level that John Calipari does; Florida's a half-step down, or maybe a full step down, either in a 2A or 2B group populated by a mix of pure blue-bloods (Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA), teams with decades of basketball history (Indiana, Louisville, Syracuse), and the nouveau riche (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, UConn), depending on who's making the tiers. It's no accident that the teams I just mentioned have won 22 of the last 24 national titles.

But one of the two interlopers in those years since the 1991 NCAA Tournament was Arkansas, in 1994, when Nolan Richardson had as much talent as he needed to turn his "40 Minutes of Hell" style into the one that wreaked havoc on college basketball. And current Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, who runs the same uptempo offense and pressing defense that Richardson did, could theoretically rebuild that whirling montrositity if he ever gets the talent.

A quick, lanky combo guard like KeVaughn Allen would have helped.

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I don't know exactly who KeVaughn Allen is, or what he will be as a player. I don't really know why he chose Florida, beyond the obvious reasons. I don't know all of the ramifications of his commitment beyond what I outlined as possibilities up here.

And I like to think I know a lot about college basketball, and a good bit about recruiting.

Let this serve as a reminder that there are a lot of moving pieces that get put together to make the sports and teams we love.

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  1. Harris is not listed on Florida's current roster, and is still in the process of rejoining the team. Per sources, that's not exactly a certainty.

  2. Horford's transfer to Florida has not been officially announced, but it's happening.

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