2023 recruit Thomas Haugh commits to ‘dream school’ UF
The Florida men’s basketball program landed a verbal commitment for the 2023 recruiting class Wednesday from Thomas Haugh, a power forward from Pennsylvania.
“Dreams to reality! 110% committed to the University of Florida,” Haugh posted on his Twitter account, along with a UF graphic.
Haugh, who stands 6-foot-9 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, isn’t exaggerating: he’s had the Gators on top of his list since before he was a Division I prospect.
Despite growing up in Pennsylvania, Haugh grew up Gators fan, meaning his midweek visit June 26-28 with the program wasn’t his first trip to Gainesville.
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“I was a huge Gator fan, I was a big Florida fan. It was my dream school. When they called, it was pretty special,” Haugh said. “It was kind of weird, me being a Florida fan, because everyone around me is Penn State, Pitt, all that, but growing up I loved watching Tim Tebow. That was my guy. I guess you can call me a little bandwagon fan, but I watched them and just fell in love with Florida.”
Haugh’s rise as a recruit really started months ago, during his time with the Under Armour Association’s We-R1. It didn’t take long for his ideal destination, UF, to come into the mix.
“This spring I got a lot of interest playing with We-R1 in the Under Armour program, just playing on the circuit, and I started to get some high-major looks, and my recruitment started to take off,” Haugh said. “And then, three weeks ago it was the live period for high school, and I got contacted by Coach (Kevin) Hovde and Coach (Todd) Golden before that, so they were talking to me and they said they were going to come up to watch a game, and I think I played really well that game. They kind of got a feel for who I was, and they just wanted me to visit and come up for an official visit.”
He attempted not to give the Gators an advantage in his recruitment as a result of his fandom.
“I went in there with the intention of not thinking it’s my dream school though,” he said. “I wanted to see the school as it is, and not put any bias behind it or anything, but I just loved campus and everything about it.
“Me and my family talked before I left and just decided to tell coach ‘Hey, we’re committed to doing this, this is where I want to be’.”
Having familiarity with the Florida program meant Haugh was no stranger to Florida’s director of player development Taurean Green.
“I was definitely familiar, he was awesome, he’s definitely a player’s coach. He’s super cool, high energy, high motor,” Haugh said of Green. “He was the one who showed me around campus on the tour. He’s a cool guy, I’m definitely looking forward to having a relationship with him. He’s hilarious.”
The Gators have an available spot remaining in the class of 2022 for the upcoming season, and the belief is Florida will fill the void with a player in the NCAA’s transfer portal. But the possibility remains UF adds an incoming freshman to the roster, and Haugh was a possible addition.
Having already graduated high school, several programs attempted to get him to reclassify from the class of 2023 back to 2022, but he ultimately decided to take an additional year at Perkiomen School. He played at New Oxford before transferring to Perkiomen.
“I graduated, and I’m doing a post-grad year. A lot of schools — for example, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech — they all wanted me to come now…” Haugh said. “I talked to coach about it a little bit, and we decided it was best if I stayed, because my offensive game has been growing significantly. I just thought it would be — it sounds kind of cocky saying this, I hate saying this — but to be the guy on my high school team, just control the pace, because I’ve never really had that opportunity. So I just think that will be really, really big just for building my character and how I play, building my game.”
It may not be in 2022, but Haugh can’t wait to get to UF’s campus, and he already has his arrival date set: May 9, 2023. Until then, he’ll continue his development in Pennsylvania.
“I don’t know if I’m done growing yet, but I think I am. Growing up, I was always kind of a guard, I wasn’t very, very tall, but then freshman year, I went from 6-2 to 6-7 in my sophomore year, so then I started developing post game, started developing my inside game,” Haugh said. “It’s really, really benefited my game, just being able to stretch the floor and shoot pretty good, and also being able to get in the post when you have mismatches and switch off of screens.”