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Mosby chooses Florida but could change mind

Finally, Bernice Mosby has made a decision. Or has she?

Mosby, the Times 2000-01 All-Suncoast Player of the Year and among the top players in the state, committed to Florida on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

But it remains to be seen if the Hernando star will honor that commitment.

Rodney Byrd, Mosby's adviser and former coach, said Mosby faxed a signed copy of her national letter of intent to Florida at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday but held on to the original.

"I don't think she's at peace yet," Byrd said.

By signing the letter, Mosby bound herself to Florida for a year. If she changes her mind, she must sit out a year unless Gators coach Carol Ross releases her from the commitment.

Mosby can appeal to the NCAA but must show extenuating circumstances, said Steve McClain, the Florida assistant sports information director.

Mosby wouldn't comment on the signing. Tuesday, she said she liked the surroundings at LSU and the school's fashion design major. But she said her mother wanted her to attend Florida.

"Florida and LSU are similar to me," Mosby said. "Florida is ranked higher than LSU, but I think LSU will have a good team my freshman year. But it's not all about having a good team. It's where you're most comfortable."

Mosby, a 6-foot-1 center/forward, averaged 22.7 points and 12.8 rebounds as a junior. She gave oral commitments to LSU, Florida and Connecticut before making what she called a "final" commitment to LSU last month.

She wavered Tuesday, saying she might sign with Florida or LSU on Friday.

As late as 2 p.m. Wednesday, Hernando coach Pete Lahey and athletic director Matt Smith said they hadn't heard about the signing. Florida made the announcement at a press conference 30 minutes later.

"Bernice is an exceptionally talented young lady that can do a lot of things on the court," Ross said. "She's a natural forward. She can play that small forward spot. She can play power forward. She's got a great nose for rebounding the basketball. She's a great player from here in the state that we felt it was very important to be a Gator."

Byrd said he told Mosby to consider factors such as her choice of major, projected playing time and how comfortable she felt at a school before making her decision but didn't influence her.

"I really left it up to her," Byrd said. "I told her, wherever she wanted to go, I'd support her, basically. That's all I could do."

Mosby didn't need to decide now. The early signing period continues through Nov. 21. A second period is from April 10-May 15.

Smith said Hernando will hold a signing ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday outside of the principal's office.

"I think it's great," he said. "I think she sets the standard for some other students to look up to."

Florida is No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and 13th in the Associated Press poll _ the first time the Gators have been ranked in the preseason since 1998-99.

Staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Staff writer Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, Ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastorsptimes.com.

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