Monday November 25, 2013Gators signee Brandone Francis in house tonight for UF-JU
Updated: 12:25am, November 26
Updated: 12:25am, November 26
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At first glance, Brandone Francis looks like a big, happy kid -- maybe even a football player -- who just might enjoy a good meal.
And that’s exactly what Francis wants you to think.
“When you see me, you probably don’t think I’d be very quick with the ball,” he said. “I like that.”
So does Florida coach Billy Donovan, who made Francis, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound guard from Arlington (Fla.) Country Day, one of three recruits signed to national letters of intent last week.
The future Gator checked in with his future squad Monday night when Florida took on Jacksonville University at the Veterans Memorial Arena.
Francis chose UF after being romanced by the likes of Louisville, Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma State, Washington ... you get the picture. He did not, however, take his allotted number of visits. He didn’t see the necessity. His dreams, Francis said, “were bigger than a couple days at those places.”
Besides, the place he felt best fit him turned out to be the one closest to home and closest to his heart.
Francis grew up rooting for the Gators, hopping on the bandwagon for those back-to-back national titles. As native of the Dominican Republic, Francis rooted hard for fellow countryman Al Horford.
Not that their games are at all similar.
Ask any of the UF coaches and they’ll tell you (with a straight face) that Francis has the speed, acceleration and explosiveness of -- get this -- freshman point guard Kasey Hill.
Now you know why the Gators are so intrigued by Francis, the prospect, who averaged 16 points, six rebounds a five assists per game last season at the private high school near Jacksonville that plays under independent status and takes on some of the best teams in the country.
“He looks like a linebacker and has that football mentality; an unbelievable will to try and dominate every single possession,” UF assistant coach Rashon Burno said. “But he gets end to end like a 5-10 point guard.’
Francis, whose father Bobby played at Boston College in the 1980s, doesn’t necessarily agree with the Hill comparisons. But he won’t disagree, either.
“We’re different players,” Francis explained through his accent. “He’s super quick, stupid quick, but I feel I can get there if I get myself in better shape and lose some weight. I may not be as fast as him, but I will have my own speed and it’ll be better than people think.”
Along with that speed, Francis also has some impressive ball-handling skills and a shooting touch that already is good and figures to get better once UF’s coaches get him in the program.
Here’s how Francis’ prep coach, former JU star Rex Morgan, broke down Francis, a four-star and top-30 overall prospect, according to Rivals and ESPN recruiting analysts.
“He’s got the whole package,” Morgan told The Florida Times-Union. “When you’re 6-5 and can shoot and make the 3, when you can take it to the hole and finish above people ,and when he passes the ball like he does, you’re at an elite level. He reminds me of [Brooklyn Nets guard] Deron Williams. Brandone definitely has pro potential. I don’t know if he’s one-and-done in college — I wouldn’t want to put that kind of pressure on him — but he is really, really talented.”
And he’ll join a UF signing class along with Devin Robinson, a 6-8 forward and top-20 overall prospect from Chesterfield, Va., and Chris Chiozza, a 5-11 point guard from Memphis, Tenn.
Francis talks or texts his incoming classmates a couple times a week. In fact, Arlington Country Day, currently 5-0 and beating teams like drums, is scheduled to play Chiozza’s White Station High in a holiday tournament next month.
They’ll be in Gainesville before they know.
“Billy Donovan has me really excited about what the future holds,” Francis said. “Florida just felt like where I belonged, so I followed my heart.”