Florida is not a school with a long tradition of basketball excellence. Most of the Gators' success has been within the last 15 years. That's when UF hired a young, but very talented Billy Donovan as head coach.
Up until then, Florida basketball had only five NCAA Tournament appearances and only one visit to a Final Four. Since that time, Florida has been among the most successful programs in the country.
Florida fans love to debate all day long about the greatest football players and teams in Gator history, but rarely have I been in a debate about the greatest basketball players. But now there are enough of them to have a serious debate.
Here are my Top Ten:
Jason Williams could have probably been No. 1 on this list if he was more interested in going to class and less interested in getting high.
The man single handedly went into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky when the Cats were the best team in the land.
After he was booted off the team, UK came into the O'Connell Center and ripped the Gators, showing just how much Williams meant to the team.
Donovan's first big recruit out of the Miami area, Haslem was the big man in the middle for the Gators' 2000 Title run.
He had two fouls called in him every game during warm ups or there's no telling how great he might have been. Looks like now he'll be adding to his NBA Championship Ring collection.
Haslem ranks third in school history in points scored (1,782) and 10th in rebounds (831).
Mike Miller was also part of the 2000 team. A huge part. He was a deadly three-point shooter and he was also big enough to play inside.
His buzzer beater against Butler in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament catapulted a Gator run through the field that ended in the National Title Game.
His stay in Gainesville was short, he went to the NBA after his sophomore year, where he was Rookie of the Year for the Orlando Magic in 2001. He will also be in Miami collecting rings with Haslem.
The most deadly accurate three-point shooter in Gator history is Lee Humphrey. He holds the record for most threes made in NCAA Tournament history.
It seems like most of them were made in the Final Four. He broke Cinderella George Mason's back in the '06 semifinal with four straight to start the second half.
In the '07 Elite Eight game against Oregon, he put on a shooting clinic when he scored 27 points on 8 threes.
One of them shredded the net and the game had to be stopped in order to put on a new one.
David Lee was an inside presence with some very good athleticism. The national slam dunk champ in high school, Lee pounded the glass for outside shooters Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson as was a mentor for Joakim Noah.
Lee has found great success so far in the NBA now that he has developed a decent jump shot to go with his inside game. He was a huge part of Florida's first-ever SEC Tournament Championship team in 2005.
Taurean Green was the point guard for two National Championship teams in '06 and '07.
Part of the famed "oh fours", he was a slick ball handler, very good passer and another deadly shooter from the perimeter.
If Lee Humphrey or Corey Brewer was having a rare off night, he was more than capable of picking up the slack.
This guy was a stat-sheet stuffer. He has all but one of Florida's triple doubles in school history.
He came in with a team rebuilding from a mass exodus to the NBA. He was unquestionably the leader from Day One.
He inexplicably left after his sophomore year to play professional ball in Greece. Had he stayed, he likely would have rewritten the Florida record books.
What a ball player Al Horford is. He's a power forward who has been playing center his whole career. Instead of complaining about it, he goes out every night and does his job.
And man, does he do it well. He lit Greg Oden up twice in the '07 season, once in the National Title game.
He couldn't stop Oden from dunking on him very often, but he went back down to the offensive end and made plays all night. If he ever gets on a team with a center and moves to the forward spot, look out.
If you're a Gator or a Chicago Bull you love him. If not, you hate him. But nobody can deny that Joakim Noah gets more out of his talent than anybody.
His shot is awkward. He's not blessed with a lot of polish with his post moves, but his engine runs full blast all game long.
And he is not afraid to tell opponents and their fans what he thinks of them, either.
He single-handedly throttled UCLA in the first half of the '06 Title game when he broke the record for blocked shots...in the first half.
He was voted the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. And he would easily be the Greatest of All time if not for one thing...
Corey Brewer is the Greatest Gator Basketball Player...ever! He could do it all. He was fast. He had arms way too long for his body. He could defend like nobody else.
Just ask Aaron Afflalo and his UCLA teammates. He locked AA down in TWO separate Final Four games.
He could drain threes on you and then slash to the hoop and dunk in your face.
His shot against Georgetown in the '06 Sweet Sixteen is one of the most memorable in Florida history. And his performance in the Final Four in '07 earned him the M.O.P.