... And at this point I bet you're wondering who the heck Jiwan James actually is.
James, a recent graduate of the nearby Williston High School, was named the Class 3A Baseball Player of the Year for the State of Florida; And he happens to be committed to play at the University next season under new head coach Kevin O'Sullivan. He made that decision last summer, while former coach Pat McMahon was in control of the Gator baseball program.
The only thing that stood in the way of the Gators having the exceptional skills of James on the baseball diamond was the MLB Draft; If a team were to draft him and give him a good enough offer, there was a realistic shot that we would be seeing him in a minor-league ballpark next season, not McKethan Stadium.
The choice may have gotten even tougher when the Gators decided to go a different direction at head coach ... nearly the same time that the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the 22nd round.
Today James decided that the college game was where he needed to be in 2008 (Courtesy of the Gainesville Sun's John Patton):
The former Williston High School outfielder/pitcher met with new Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan on Monday and said the visit went well. It wasn't the determining factor in James picking UF over the Philadelphia Phillies, who made him a 22nd-round selection in the Major League draft earlier this month, but it helped solidify his decision.
[...]The Phillies told James on draft day they were prepared to take him in the sixth round, but he turned down their money offer. Philadelphia eventually did choose James in the 22nd round and kept the sixth-round dollar offer on the table.
In recent weeks James has spent time in Clearwater with Phillies' management and his early declaration he was 80-percent sure he would attend Florida dropped to 50-percent a few days later.
[...]But unless the Phillies come up with an offer James can't turn down before he walks into his first Summer B class (something he said is unlikely), he will play for Florida.
"I'm on campus registering right now," James said by phone at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday.
It's definitely going to be a new era of Gator baseball under head coach O'Sullivan -- a guy who is known for his recruiting skills around college baseball coaching circles -- and exciting incoming players like James.