Florida's basketball recruiting under Michael White has been relatively quiet, with the Gators' new coach working to build relationships in the Sunshine State and the program that Billy Donovan had molded into a national power taking a back seat on the trail because of it.
Friday brought good and bad news: White finally has his first commitment for the 2016 class: Point guard Eric Hester of Oldsmar Christian committed to the Gators on Friday night, as first reported by Eric Bossi, but 2016 power forward John Mooney, a longtime Florida commit, decommitted from the Gators, as first reported by Russ Wood.
Hester added his own confirmation shortly after Bossi broke the news publicly.
Proud to finally be a gator pic.twitter.com/BowCaSPffD— HESTER (@ericdhester6) August 14, 2015
Hester is rated as a consensus four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite, and the No. 10 combo guard in the 2016 class. He stands about 6'3", and weighs around 175 pounds, which makes him a taller point guard or a shorter shooting guard — but it's his speed and length, both visible from the first few seconds of his highlight reel, that make him an exciting pickup for Florida.
Hester would seem to be a fantastic fit for White's up-tempo attack and zone press defense, and he carries a rep as a ferocious defender, which would make him a fine complement to a backcourt that should feature Kasey Hill (a player Hester clearly likes a lot), Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, and Brandone Francis-Ramirez when he arrives next summer. Florida led Hester's Crystal Ball, with Louisville — which competed with Florida for many guards that both Rick Pitino and Donovan coveted — getting the only other prediction from an insider.
Hester's commitment might also help Florida reel in St. Louis power forward Tyler Cook, a player Florida was thought to lead for before Donovan's departure for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both Hester and Cook, presumed to be a Missouri lean, were already scheduled to officially visit Florida on September 4 ($), but now one of them will be doing so as a verbal commit.
Mooney, meanwhile, is opening things up after having committed to Florida in November 2013. Mooney's father told Wood that White says Florida will continue to pursue the Lake Brantley forward "as a high priority recruit" and hints that he could end up with the Gators after all.
But Mooney profiles as a back-to-the-basket post player with some range — think a shorter Erik Murphy, but from his freshman and sophomore seasons — and my suspicion is that Florida will prefer its tweener forwards to be fleeter of foot, more like current Gators forward Alex Murphy, under White.