Florida signee KeVaughn Allen will remain with the Gators rather than seeking release from his National Letter of Intent, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported Monday.
Florida signee KeVaughn Allen has informed the new staff that he will stick with the Gators, sources told ESPN. HUGE news for Mike White.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 18, 2015
Florida confirmed Allen's signing on Monday, finally officially announcing its 2015 recruiting class as a three-man group of Allen, forward Kevarrius Hayes, and tweener Keith Stone.
Allen's intention to leave Florida's fold was widely rumored, as Allen's stepfather and others heated up talk of Allen pursuing a release from his NLI to finally commit to home-state Arkansas, as Razorbacks fans had wanted all along. SB Nation's Arkansas blog, Arkansas Fight, sums up the recent flurry of rumors about Allen succinctly:
While it's obviously great news for Florida, it's disappointing for Razorback fans who felt the loss of Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls could be somewhat softened if the Razorbacks could end up with Allen.
Allen's commitment to Florida, despite originally coming over a year ago, frequently seemed shaky. He didn't sign with the Gators in the early signing period, leading many to wonder if he would reopen his recruitment, but he stayed committed and signed his NLI in April. However, shortly after Billy Donovan left Florida for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Allen's stepfather called into Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly and said "it's coming" when asked directly if Allen would seek a release from Florida. North Little Rock head coach Johnny Rice also was a guest on multiple sports talk shows afterward and while always reiterating Allen would speak with White before requesting a release, most people seemed to believe it was coming, and Arkansas, Memphis, and possibly Kansas would be after Allen's services.
But those viewing Allen's commitment as shaky may have been wrong all along. Allen didn't send in a National Letter of Intent to Florida in the fall during the early signing period for basketball, instead waiting until mid-April to do so ... but that may have been as much about Florida's scholarship crunch as anything. And while rumors flew about Allen's impending release, with that late signing and talk from Allen's family used to fan the flames, Florida signee Noah Dickerson — who did sign in the fall — asked for and was granted his release from Florida in the last week.
Truth be told, Dickerson seeking a release once Florida transitioned from Billy Donovan to Michael White made more sense than Allen seeking one for virtually every reason other than proximity. Dickerson is a fantastic fit for Donovan's system as a power forward or an undersized center, and would've been the low-post threat the 2014-15 Gators lacked — but White's offense doesn't utilize those more plodding players as much, preferring more athletic big men (like Hayes). What it does have plenty of room for is athletic combo guards who can defend like hellions, and Allen projects as one of those.
And the lack of a swift resolution to Allen's saga — the one the pro-Arkansas side seemed to be craving — made me wonder whether he would end up with the Gators despite the chatter. Chris Harry's story from Friday about White's practices and Florida's future also seemed to contain a hint in this passage:
The Gators are coming off a 16-17 season and are expected to return eight scholarship players off that squad, led by senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith. UF signed four incoming freshmen, but Atlanta forward Noah Dickerson asked out and was granted release from his national letter of intent. The remaining three signees, in-state forwards Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone, plus Arkansas guard KeVaughn Allen aren’t due on campus until Summer B next month.
As White said at his news conference, he wants players who want to be here.
"I’m not into begging," he said.
Grouping Allen with Hayes and Stone, who were both expected to remain signed with Florida, caught my eye. And there's been confidence all along that Allen has wanted to play for Florida, even if some subset of his support system disagreed.
In the end, Allen will be Florida's player, and Michael White's, now, and is the jewel of what will almost certainly be a three-man recruiting class.
Sorry, Arky: Not every rumor or dream comes true.