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Gators Give Preferred Walk-On Status To One-Handed Hoopster

Zach Hodskins has spent his basketball career dribbling and shooting with just one arm.  Now the young man will have an opportunity to test his skills at the college level at one of America’s premier programs.

Born without the lower half of his left arm, Hodskins has excelled as a high school and AAU player.  Enough so that Billy Donovan is giving him preferred walk-on status with the Florida Gators.

“At Florida, I’m going to have every opportunity to get on the floor and play,” Hodskins said of his choice to attend UF.  “The situation was different at Kentucky.”  The Lexington  native had discussions about UK with Wildcats coach John Calipari.

If anyone thinks this is some sort of play for headlines or heart strings, check the video clips below.  The kid can play:


One-handed Zach Hodskins is the most amazing basketball player you'll ever see!


There might not be a classier, nicer basketball coach in the SEC than Florida’s Donovan.  So it’s not surprising that he would be the man to promise Hodskins a real chance.  “If I work hard, Coach Donovan told me I’ll have a chance to play.”

Good for both of them.

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Donovan’s Reinvented Gators Face Marquette Tonight

When Will Yeguete went down with a season-ending foot injury it appeared that with him went Florida’s frontcourt game, its defense and its chances at a prolonged NCAA Tournament run.  Losing four of their last five entering the tourney, those prognostications of doom looked pretty darn accurate.

Two blowout wins over Virginia and Norfolk State later, the Gators are heading to a 10:15pm ET game with Marquette tonight (on TNT).  So what changed?

Yeguete says the team simply got “used to me not playing” and “we’ve been really good on defense.”  Head coach Billy Donovan says his players simply realized “things that they needed to do” in Yeguete’s absence.

Kenny Boynton agrees with his coach: “The main concern was who was gonna rebound?  Who was going to do the small stuff he did on the court?  I think the answer to that was basically the whole team.  It takes a whole team to equal that out.”

Freshman Bradley Beal has also emerged, averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds through two tourney games.  For the season he averaged 6.7 boards per game.  His added toughness will be needed tonight against a Marquette squad that’s a #3 seed and by far the best team UF has seen in this year’s March Madness.

For their part, Golden Eagles’ coach Buzz Williams — I still slip and call them the Warriors on occasion — says Florida may be the most dangerous offensive team his club has faced all year.

“There’s very few teams — everybody knows that they lead the country in three-point field goal makes, but there’s very few teams that have that offensive rebounding percentage that at the same time have those offensive efficiency type numbers,” Williams told the press yesterday.  “So it’s as potent an offensive team as I’ve studied this year.  And that speaks to Coach Donovan and his staff and the guys that they’ve recruited.  But it also speaks to their development of those guys and then their style of play and how it enhances their talent.”

Win and Donovan — complete with a team that reinvented itself late in the season — will reach his fifth Elite Eight in 16 years at Florida and his second in a row.  Considering how his team looked in the immediate aftermath of Yeguete’s injury, that’d be a helluva job well done.

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Young Likes The Looks Of Gator Guards

Florida frontcourter Patric Young has some positive things to say about the depth and talent that Billy Donovan has built up in the Gators’ backcourt:

“We have so many guards with this team, it’s possible that we could have one of the best backcourts in the (SEC) or maybe in the country possibly.  We have fast guys.

We’re going to be a really good pressing team possibly.  We’re going to run the floor a lot more, maybe go four fuards, one big man for something like that.  But it’s up to Coach Donovan, whatever he sees works best for this team.  It’s going to be completely different from the team last year, I’ll tell you that.  Maybe a lot more threes, a lot more shooting.”

The Gators’ backcourt will feature Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton (last year’s starters), Scottie Wilbekin, Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario and true freshman Brad Beal, who was the Gatorade national player of the year in high school this past season.

Other teams will have a hard time matching UF’s guards in terms of talent and depth.  And that should bode well for next March.

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