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Friday, August 12, 2022

In the wake of the Gators' disappointing season, it's time to do some math.

Nine plus five equals 14. Fourteen is one more than 13.

Why is any of this important?

Next season, UF is allotted just 13 scholarships.

With the five recruits who have signed Letters of Intent, this has created a logjam and a serious problem.

Someone has to go.

"I have faith things will work themselves out," UF coach Billy Donovan said.

How things rearrange at this point is anyone's guess. Speculation points first to center Marreese Speights, who is UF's only current player with a realistic shot of playing in the NBA next season.

Speights was featured on draft boards earlier this year but has since fallen considerably.

NBADraft.net and Draftexpress.com don't list the big man on their mock drafts.

It's too early for more respectable news outlets to begin predicting, but it appears Speights will weigh his options.

"I'm going to talk to my family, my coach and see what they think," he said after Tuesday's loss to Massachusetts. "Right now, though, I'm not even thinking about it."

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Speights must decide relatively soon.

Many incoming players arrive in the summer, and by the time they touch down in Gainesville, this situation should be solved.

Donovan commented about where he thought Speights could land and about his first-round potential.

"I think the problem is projection," Donovan said. "I have not heard that at all, and I'm not saying he is or he isn't. … I don't know if I can give Marreese any advice right now."

Donovan said one of the main issues is deflecting any hype that may surround Speights. He said he can only hope the sophomore can learn to tune out the media and the hoopla, which may lead him down a dangerous path - one the two-time national champion coach has seen before.

"I had guys in Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh who wanted to bypass their senior years," he said. "It comes down to the players and their choices."

Without directly saying it, Donovan could have been sending Speights a warning with this message.

Reading between the facts, Donovan is pointing to a situation responsible for dooming two prospective NBA careers.

Walsh and Roberson chose to leave UF early, which was a head-scratcher at the time. Now, the two are currently outside the ranks of the NBA.

Speights possesses a fine array of pro skills. His length, athleticism and hands give him a unique skill-set sure to translate at the next level. However, he remains a raw talent whose immaturity and conditioning remain a salient issue.

"I will support him," Donovan said. "No matter what happens."

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