Florida Could Nab Lance Stephenson
Words. Andrew Katz
What originally seemed like a kick in the shins for Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators could end up as a blessing. A couple of days ago, Nick Calathes opted to take a $1.1 million per year deal to play for Panathinaikos Athens, thereby leaving Florida without a potential SEC Player of the Year point guard. But there’s a chance that it ends up working out pretty well for UF. Calathes’ departure opens up a scholarship, which could be filled by the only remaining five-star prospect on the board, Lincoln’s Lance Stephenson.
Though schools have seemingly dropped out of the Lance sweepstakes – whether that was Stephenson’s decision or the school’s remains to be seen – this is Florida’s opportunity to be relevant in the highly competitive SEC in ’09. That means that they might have to pull all the strings to get Lance, despite legit concerns about his ongoing trial for sexual assault and some attitude issues.
If Lance were to come on board, Florida would skyrocket up the rankings just as Kentucky just leapfrogged the universe to No. 1. They’ve already locked up elite two-guard Kenny Boynton, perhaps the most lethal shooter in the entire class, and athletic 6-10 PF Erik Murphy. Lance, Boynton and Murphy have all spent time together at the Elite 24 in Harlem, USA. That’s a formidable 2, 3, 4 trio. Add in a combination of 6-8 F Alex Tyus, who decided against transferring, 6-9 F Chandler Parsons, 6-8 F Dan Werner, 6-10 F Kenny Kadji, and 6-10 F Eloy Vargas, and the Gators could have a really strong frontcourt.
However, questions remain about their point guard situation. There’s no more Calathes, no John Wall, no 5-11 PG Jai Lucas who transferred to Texas. Instead, 5-6 former Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) sparkplug Erving Walker will be forced to shoulder the vast majority of ballhandling responsibility. I’m a huge fan of Walker – I think that he’s as hard to guard as any PG not named John Wall in college hoops next year. If he proves me right (and they lock up Lance), watch Florida compete for a damn high seed in the Dance next year.