GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With highly-touted combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander decommitting from Florida last month and now appearing to lean toward Kentucky, the Gators head into the start of the early signing period Wednesday with just two strong commitments.
DeAundrae Ballard, a 6-foot-6 4-star small forward from Atlanta, and Chase Johnson, a 6-8 3-star power forward from Huntington, W.V., round out the projected class at this point.
Heading into college basketball’s early signing period, which runs from Nov. 9-16, the Gators’ recruiting class is 50th in the latest 247Sports composite rankings.
Florida’s 2016-17 roster is using the maximum 13 scholarships, but at least three spots will open up when seniors Kasey Hill and Justin Leon and graduate transfer Canyon Barry leave. Junior forward Devin Robinson could also go, as he considered entering the NBA draft last year before a foot injury pushed him back to college.
So the Gators have some room to improve their signing class, but here’s a look at their two projected signees at this point:
DeAundrae Ballard, 6-6, SF, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (4 stars)
Ballard was all in on the Gators early, committing back in April, and he has the potential to be an impact offensive player in Gainesville.
He’s rated the 18th-best small forward in his class and the 95th-best player overall, and according to the stats available on MaxPreps.com, he averaged 23.5 points and 8.1 rebounds last season for Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
USA TODAY wrote about him last December after he had games of 42 points (over St. Francis, from Alpharetta, Ga.) and 32 points (against Gray Collegiate, of Columbia, S.C.).
“That’s the game where I realized I could be great,” Ballard said of the 42-point performance, according to USA TODAY. “Everything just came together for me in that one. Now I use the same strategy that I used in that game, inside-out. I’ve always had the confidence.”
Chase Johnson, 6-8, PF, Huntington (W.V.) Prep (3 stars)
Johnson has received more than 20 offers, according to 247Sports, including ones from Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arizona and Butler. He also visited Georgia, the Vols and his home-state Mountaineers, but he has remained committed to Florida.
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, he averaged 17.1 points and 8.8 rebounds last season, shot 66 percent from the field, 71 percent from the line and blocked 51 shots while leading Ripley (W.V.) High School to a 16-9 record. He transferred to Huntington Prep, which recently produced 2014 No. 1 NBA draft pick Andrew Wiggins, for his senior season.
He’s ranked the 54th-best post/power forward in his class and 228th overall.
In a post on the Huntington Prep website, Johnson explained his commitment to Florida.
“They offered me right after the last live period in July. They are great people. I love going down there, and when I went on my official visit I felt like that was my second home,” he said. “And I was so comfortable with the coaches and the players. It was just a perfect relationship and I loved it.”
He added that Florida plans for him to be a “stretch 3 or 4. They want me to get the ball out and go and if I get an offensive rebound, I can go straight into transition. They have shown me lots of videos where they throw lobs which they think I can succeed in.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.