The Florida men's basketball team signed two of the four anticipated members of its 2001 recruiting class and the women's team signed a stellar class of five during Wednesday's early signing period.
Anthony Roberson, a 6-foot-2 guard from Saginaw, Mich., and Matt Walsh, a 6-6 forward from Holland, Penn., signed letters of intent to join the Gators next season. Roberson is rated as the No. 6 prospect in the nation and the second-best point guard by Prep Stars in June. He is the leading candidate for Michigan's Mr. Basketball. Walsh was ranked No. 20 at the 2001 Nike All-American camp and averaged 20.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
"Roberson is as good as any point guard in the country," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Matt Walsh is a guy that has a great feel of how to play. He reminds me a lot, not as physically strong or as big, but the same type of game as Mike Miller."
The Florida women signed one of their top recruiting classes, including one of the state's best forwards, Bernice Mosby of Brooksville Hernando. The class includes: Brittany Davis, a 6-2 forward from Gainesville Buchholz who is a 5A All-State first-team selection; Dalila Eshe, a 6-2 forward from Chattahoochee, a 2A All-State first-team selection; Sarah Lowe, a 5-7 guard from Wynnewood, Pa., who attends Kobe Bryant's high school and averages 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.6 steals; and Danielle Santos, a 5-10 guard from Marietta, Ga., who is a McDonald's All-America nominee.
"We're awfully excited about this 2002 recruiting class," coach Carol Ross said. "It's not only great quality, but great quantity. Depth has been a little bit of a factor for us in the past couple of years with injuries so we're excited about the number of quality players that we've got. I'm happy that we have kept what we consider to be the cream of the crop in the state of Florida here in Mosby, Davis and Eshe. It's a great class for the Gators and the future looks awfully bright."
The Florida men are expected to sign Mario Boggan, a 6-8, 300-pound post player from Durham, N.C., and Rashid Al-Kaleem, a 6-4 shooting guard from Boston.
In baseball, Seminole High right-hander Jimmy Kubek and Bloomingdale right-hander Christian Madson were among the signees. The others: Charlotte High right-hander Bryan Ball, left-hander Craig Pearson of Downingtown, Pa., right-hander Andy Putnel of Auburndale High, catcher Alan Rick of Palatka High and infielder Justin Tordi of Orlando Dr. Phillips High.
The women's golf team signed Aimee Cho of Orlando, the 2001 Florida high school champion, and Maria Camila Gonzalez of Bucaramanga, Colombia.
The volleyball team signed Rachel Engel of Littleton, Colo., and Jane Collymore of Englewood, Colo.
Men's basketball coach Steve Robinson's most pointed need for next season is at point guard, so he was ecstatic to receive a signed national letter of intent from Todd Galloway.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Galloway averaged 17.0 points and 6.5 assists as a junior at Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg, Va. ESPN.com rates him as the nation's 35th-best prospect.
"That was the most critical need for our basketball team," Robinson said. "You're losing Delvon Arrington and now we've got a young man listed as one of the top 40 players in the country and one of the top point guards in the country."
Freshman forward Anthony Richardson, the first McDonald's All-American that Robinson has wooed to FSU, returned to Raleigh, N.C., to attend the funeral of his grandmother. He's expected to be back for Friday's opener at Florida (7 p.m., Sunshine).
Meanwhile, women's basketball coach Sue Semrau received signed letters from three of the nation's most highly-touted players, 6-3 center Hannah Linquist from Swannanoa, N.C., 6-1 guard Ganiyat Adeduntan from Athens, Ga., and 5-8 point guard Holly Johnson from Phoenix. All three have garnered preseason All-America honors.
"The commitment of this caliber of player to our program puts more of a signature on what we're doing," Semrau said, "and that it will continue into the future."
The early signing period runs through Wednesday. Robinson has three scholarships available, but likely will add no more than one prospect before the spring. Semrau has one scholarship left.
The men's basketball team signed three players.
Yusuf Baker, a 6-8 power forward from Orlando Evans; Danny Oglesby, a 6-2 guard from Hamden (Conn.) Hall; and Sam Barber, a 6-5 guard/forward from Lake Worth, made their commitments official.
Baker is the most highly rated of the three, which analyst Bob Gibbons called one of the top 30 classes in the country.
"Yusuf is as good a high school rebounder as there is in the country," USF coach Seth Greenberg said. "He is explosive off the floor, is physically strong, yet has the ability to get even stronger."
Baker, a 225-pounder, missed most of his junior season because of a torn ACL but had an impressive summer and is a top 50 recruit, according to several publications. Oglesby, who can play either guard position, is seventh on Connecticut's all-time scoring list _ 247 points shy of first _ with 2,245 points. Barber is a Street & Smith honorable mention All-American.
"Danny is the total package," Greenberg said. "He is an excellent student-athlete and person. (Barber) has good ball skills and is a complete player with good toughness."
The women's basketball team signed 5-9 guard Valerie de Velasco of Miami High.
De Velasco is rated the No. 6 senior in Florida and No. 93 nationally by All-Star Girls Basketball Report, and she is ranked among the top 50 players nationally by the Women's Basketball News Service. She can play either guard position.
"I chose USF because the atmosphere is right," de Velasco said. "I really want to play for coach (Jose) Fernandez, and I didn't want to be too far from home."
De Velasco averaged 26.3 points, tops in Dade County, and 9.2 assists last season.
"Valerie is just a great guard prospect," Fernandez said. "Val can shoot the ball, handle the ball and pass the ball."'
Angela Hawkins, a 6-3 center from Winter Haven who orally committed to the Bulls last month, did not sign.
"She's probably going to sign Monday," Winter Haven coach LeDawn Gibson. "It's probably USF or Indiana. I thought it was USF and done with but some people in her family want different things."
The softball team signed five players, including local products Kattrina Dowd of Countryside, a second baseman, and Krista Holle of Chamberlain, an infielder. Also signing were infielder Christie Chapman of Delta, British Columbia, outfielder Samantha Ray of Flossmoor, Ill., and infielder/catcher Sarah Watson of Orland, Ill.
ARKANSAS: The softball team signed Largo infielder Barbara Jean Southmayd.
MIAMI: The women's basketball team signed Tamara James and Tatjana Marincic. James, a guard/forward, led South Broward High to state titles in 2000 and 2001. Marincic is a 6-2 guard/forward.
ACC SOCCER: Kyle Martino of Virginia was player of the year, Marcus Storey of North Carolina was rookie of the year and George Gelnovatch of Virginia was coach of the year.
_ ANTONYA ENGLISH, BRIAN
LANDMAN, PETE YOUNG,