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Wednesday November 14, 2012Gators Sign a Pair of Five-Star Hoops Prospects

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida basketball team has a big game Wednesday night against Wisconsin that could be a tone-setter for the 2012-13 season.

But the Gators started the day with some foundation-setting for future teams.

Point guard Kasey Hill and power forward Chris Walker, the top two prospects in the state and a pair of consensus top-10 national recruits, signed letters of intent to play at UF starting in the ’13-14 season.

Depending on the recruiting service, Hill has been rated as high as the No. 6 player in the country; Walker has checked in at No. 7.

“How they rank to the rest of the country, doesn’t really matter to me because there are so many things they bring to the table,” UF coach Billy Donovan said. “Being in-state guys, I’ve had a chance to watch them grow over a three-year period and I understand what we’ll be getting. They’re athletic, with speed and quickness and competiveness. They both have a chance to have tremendous careers here.”

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Hill is a five-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and Scout out of Montverde (Fla.) Academy, where last season he played alongside current UF freshmen Michael Frazier in advancing to the mythical national high school championship game last April. 

Walker, out of Bonifay (Fla.) Holmes County High, is a 6-10, 195-pounder with an all-around floor game to go with the five-star rating from all three services.

There are a lot of things Donovan and his staff love about both guys, but the lists begin with their character, work ethic and unselfishness.

“They work extremely hard and play the game the right way,” UF assistant Matt McCall said. “When you watch them play, it’s never about them. They’re about team, they’re about winning. That’s why they’ll be such a good fit for Coach Donovan.”

Basketball-wise, Hill is an explosive, up-tempo playmaker who can find open teammates but also get to the rim and finish (often with dunks). On the comparison front, Hill has been likened -- because of his speed -- to guys like John Wall and even Allen Iverson.

“He just as a presence on the floor,” Donovan said. “Great vision.”

Walker is a high-energy, high-effort post player (and excellent passer) whose skill level and offensive production will only improve.

“The best frontcourt players to come through here -- the Horfords, Haslems, Bonners, Noahs -- they could all really run,” McCall said. “And Chris Walker can really run.”

Rolling these players in with a group that could include Patric Young, Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, the current four-man freshman class, plus transfers Dorian Finney-Smith (by way of Virginia Tech) and Damontre Harris (South Carolina), will give the Gators an altogether different look next season.

UF is not expected to sign anyone else during the early period, but the team will continue recruiting for spring signing in April.


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