Jan 10, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Detailed view of the Florida Gators logo against the LSU Tigers during the second half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators are known more for their football prowess but they have had stints as one of the most feared college basketball teams in the SEC and nation.

Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators teams took this program to a level that they hadn’t been before or since. They also have produced some of the best players in the history of the program.

But there’s more to this storied college basketball program than just that era. Let’s take a look at the 10 best Florida Gators basketball players of all time.

10. Bradley Beal, shooting guard

Bradley Beal played for the Gators during the 2011-2012 season. During that time, he was a first-team All-SEC selection and made the SEC’s All-Freshman team. He also helped lead his team to the Elite 8 against Louisville. Beal averaged that season nearly 15 points a game. Beal has had a successful NBA career with the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns.

9. Nick Calathes, point guard

Nick Calathes was the leader of the Florida backcourt during those back-to-back national championships. A first-team All-SEC selection in 2009, he was the only player in the nation that season to average more than 15 points, five rebounds, and six assists per game. Calathes also broke the Florida school record for assists and assists per game in each of his first two years. He ranks third in school history in career assists after just two seasons. For that, he was the SEC Newcomer of the Year and the SEC co-Freshman of the Year in 2008 and he led Florida in scoring and assists. He would go on to have a very successful pro career in Europe.

8. David Lee, power forward

David Lee played all four years under Billy Donovan and just missed being on those national championship teams by two years. Still, he played a huge part in building the program. As a freshman in 2002, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team. During his sophomore season, he averaged 11.5 points and seven rebounds a game. Lee was named a second-team All-SEC in his junior year, averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game. In his senior season, he helped lead the Gators to their first SEC Tournament title, defeating the Kentucky Wildcats. Lee went on to have a long career in the NBA with several franchises.

7. Jason Williams, point guard

Jason Williams had a very short but impactful career with the Gators. Williams became one of the first stars on those early Billy Donovan teams, following the head coach from Marshall when he arrived in Gainesville. Williams set a Florida single-game record with 17 assists in a December 3, 1997 game against Duquesne. In 20 games, he averaged 17.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 2.8 steals per game. His time with the Gators came to an abrupt end when he was suspended for the third time for marijuana use. He would go on to have a very long NBA career where he was well-known as “White Chocolate” due to his style of point-guard play.

6. Udonis Haslem, power forward/center

Udonis Haslem is one of the few players on this list who did not win a national championship with the Gators while playing for Donovan, but he was still one of the best players to ever put on that uniform. During his time in Gainesville, Haslem averaged 13.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. He was named to the coaches’ All-SEC team four times, making the first team in 2001 and 2002. Haslem also ranks third in team history in points scored (1,782) and tenth in rebounds (831). He was also a second and third-team All-American and was inducted into the Gators Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.

5. Corey Brewer, small forward

One of the four major freshmen in Billy Donovan’s iconic 2004 recruiting class, Corey Brewer would end up having a huge impact on the Florida Gators men’s basketball program. Brewer helped lead the Gators to three SEC basketball tournament championships and back-to-back NCAA Tournament national championships. He was named Most Outstanding Player during the Final Four in 2007 and was also the first player in school history to record a triple-double.

4. Neal Walk, center

Before Billy Donovan’s Gators came along, there was Neal Walk. Walk was a center for the Gators in the late 1960s. In his junior season, he led the NCAA with 19.8 rebounds a game and averaged 26.5 points per game. He also was the first Gators player to lead them to their first postseason tournament, the 1969 NIT. When Walk graduated, he was the Gators’ all-time leading scorer and still maintains the team records for career rebounds (1,181), average points per game (20.8), and rebounds in a single game (31). Walk is also named third-team All-American and second-team All-American by various governing bodies. His No. 41 jersey is the only number retired by the Florida basketball program.

3. Chandler Parsons, small forward

Although there were a lot of great players from those championship teams who would go on to have great NBA careers, Chandler Parsons sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. In 2011, Parsons was an honorable mention All-American, made First Team All-SEC, and was named SEC Player of the Year, becoming the first Florida player to do so. That year, he averaged 11.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 34.1 minutes per game while leading the Gators to the best regular season record in the SEC. Parsons was one of the few stars who stayed all four years under Donovan. He later said in other interviews that he felt as if staying in school helped him have an advantage over the players who left early.

2. Joakim Noah, center

Joakim Noah, the son of tennis great Yannick Noah, had a lot to live up to., but he ended up becoming a bigger name than his father. Noah was part of the 2006 and 2007 Gators teams that won back-to-back national championships. He was also an All-American and named Most Outstanding Player in the 2006 Final Four. In a sophomore season, he led the team in scoring (14.2 ppg), and blocks (2.4 bpg)  and was second in rebounding  (7.1 rpg). After the Gators won their second-straight national championship, he declared for the NBA Draft and became the No. 1 draft pick of the Chicago Bulls.

1. Al Horford, power forward/center

Al Horford was a two-time second and third-team All-American, two-time national champion, and MVP of the SEC Tournament. Horford became the fourth player on his team to score 1,000 career points. He had to score 14 points during a game against the Kentucky Wildcats to reach the milestone and scored exactly 14. Horford went on to have a successful NBA career with several NBA teams.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.