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Jai Lucas commits to Gators

5/14/2007 - Florida Gators

Florida picked up the first of two potential key late signees when the top remaining point guard, Houston's Jai LucasInsider, committed to the Gators.

Lucas told ESPN.com Monday afternoon as he was entering his news conference at Bellaire High (Texas) that he would sign with the two-time defending national champs. The month-long signing period ends Wednesday. The Gators, along with Kentucky and Duke, are awaiting the decision from Huntington (W.Va.) power forward Patrick Patterson -- the top unsigned player at his position. He said last week that he would make an announcement Wednesday.

"I'm going to Florida because I felt it was the right place for me," Lucas told ESPN.com. "I just felt that they had lost a lot and I can come in and play right away. They've got a great group of guys coming in with this class. I can help them at the point."

Lucas told ESPN.com Sunday night that he would try to convince Patterson to join him.

Lucas chose the Gators over Kentucky and Oklahoma State. He had had Oklahoma and his father, John's alma mater, Maryland, on his final five.

Point-guard minutes opened up when junior Taurean Green decided to stay in the NBA draft and sign with an agent. That means that Lucas, rising junior Walter Hodge and incoming freshman Nick CalathesInsider, who can play multiple positions, will compete for the primary ballhandling position.

Lucas joins a recruiting class of Calathes, forwards Chandler ParsonsInsider, Alex TyusInsider and Adam AllenInsider. Hodge is one of five returnees that includes forwards Marreese Speights, Jonathan Mitchell and Dan Werner and guard Brandon Powell. The Gators lost their top six players -- four juniors (Green, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah) and two seniors (Lee Humphrey and Chris Richard) -- off the national championship team that defeated Ohio State last month in Atlanta.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.