Michael White has received his first true commitment as Florida's head coach.
Forward Justin Leon, an Arkansas native and former Louisiana Tech signee who spent the last two years at Shawnee Community College in Illinois, has opted to follow White to Florida, announcing the move via a tweet:
After reviewing my options I have decided to go to Gainesville Florida and join the Gators .— Justin Leon. (@Jay_onehunit) June 8, 2015
Leon was listed at 6'8" and 200 pounds by Shawnee in 2014-15, and profiles as a small forward or big guard. He was named an Honorable Mention Basketball I All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association in 2014-15, and put up a double-double average, scoring 21.5 points and snagging 10.0 rebounds per contest. Leon ranked in the top 20 nationally in both points and rebounds per game in the NJCAA Division I ranks last year, something just three other players did.
And that all sheds some light on why Florida taking a junior college basketball player — something I cannot recall Florida ever doing under Billy Donovan — actually makes sense. But it's also true that Leon's just another body to add to a program that had free roster spots: With Noah Dickerson asking for and being granted a release from his National Letter of Intent and KeVaughn Allen surprising many by remaining a Florida signee, the Gators were set to have just 11 scholarship players, one short of the NCAA maximum of 13, in 2015-16.
Florida still has another scholarship to give, even after Leon claims his, but it's exceedingly unlikely that Florida would add yet another player for the 2015-16 season this year; Leon wasn't on anyone's radar before his commitment. The Gators might end up giving that 13th scholarship to either one of their two preferred walk-ons (Zach Hodskins or Schuyler Rimmer), or White could get creative, and dangle it as a carrot for a potential midyear transfer. And while there's been little buzz about a return to Gainesville for Eli Carter, who announced he would transfer from Florida in April, there's technically still room for him on the Gators' roster.
Of those three, the first option seems most likely.
With two years of eligibility remaining and Florida's roster likely to be very much in flux beyond redshirt senior Dorian Finney-Smith in 2015-16, Leon should find himself in the mix for playing time from the moment he arrives in Gainesville. He'll have to beat out sophomore forward Devin Robinson and incoming freshman Keith Stone for minutes at a big guard position, but he's older than both players, if lacking in some of the bulk that would theoretically come with that maturity.