Florida had always been a dream school for 2023 power forward Thomas Haugh. Through a chuckle, he said it had nothing to do with basketball, though.
The 6-foot-9, 200-pound prospect from the Perkiomen School in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, said his fond memories of watching Tim Tebow play in The Swamp led to a desire to follow in the footsteps of the soon-to-be College Football Hall of Famer. And more than a decade later, Haugh has his opportunity to do just that. After an official visit to Florida that wrapped up on Tuesday, the three-star prospect announced his pledge to the program on Wednesday afternoon, making him the first 2023 prospect to commit to first-year Florida coach Todd Golden.
“I’m so excited,” Haugh told Swamp247 shortly after announcing his commitment. “Florida really is a dream school and I can’t wait to get to work there.”
Currently a three-star prospect ranked No. 41 among power forwards in the 2023 class, Haugh could be in for a significant ranking bump in the near future after joining We-R1 in the Under Armor Association and landing offers from Maryland, Illinois, Georgia Tech and Florida.
Some of the aforementioned schools wanted Haugh to join their 2022 classes but the defensively versatile forward instead chose to take a post-grad year at Perkyomen. He said he will enroll at Florida in May of 2023.
“The visit was awesome, [assistant coach Kevin] Hovde and coach Golden made it feel like home when I came and Florida was a dream school so it was an easy decision,” Haugh said. “I got some looks in the spring from some high-major schools and Florida jumped on board and came to see me play and I think I had like 30 points or something. Right when they texted me, I knew it was the school I wanted to be at.”
Still, Haugh said he tried to evaluate Florida without Orange and Blue colored glasses, taking time to consider things like program fit, growth opportunities, environment and academics. But by the time his official visit to Gainesville concluded, Haugh said his mind was made up: Florida was the school for him. I have credited Hovde and Florida’s players for sealing the deal.
“I love it,” he said. “Everything was great. The campus was home. The players were awesome and so were the coaches. I got to participate in a workout and it just felt like I wanted to be there. It was home. Right before I left I talk to my parents and we decided this was the route I wanted to go on.”
Haugh has garnered significant attention recently thanks in large part to his defensive versatility.
“He’s a fluid athlete who moves especially well laterally and can guard all five positions at the high school level,” 247Sports national basketball recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein wrote. “At the college level, he projects as being capable of defending multiple positions from day one and ultimately as a high-level weapon on that end of the floor.
“Offensively, Haugh’s fluidity carries over. He puts the ball on the floor comfortably at his size, is a solid athlete around the rim, has various types of lay-ups at his disposal, and possesses shooting potential. He’s not yet a total alpha on that end of the floor, and thus far projects as more of a blend player by nature, but his decision by him to return to Perkiomen for another year should help him take his individual offense to new levels before arriving at Florida.”
With Thomas choosing to join the Gators in 2023, he said he has an opportunity to continue to grow his game without having to worry about his recruitment.
“I’m just going to get to the grind,” he said. “It’s going to be nice playing while knowing I’m committed. I’m going to go and be there to be better and not to get more offers or looks.”
Haugh said he was elated to announce his commitment to Florida, a lifelong dream that has come to fruition. Now, though, he is focused on improving on the court so he can maximize his opportunities from him in Gainesville where he feels he’s going to “be a perfect fit.”
“Just talking to coach Hovde and coach Golden, I know they had a great season last year at San Francisco and they talked a lot about that,” he said. “I know coach Golden is a younger coach and I really like that because he clearly has a great mindset towards the game. Just the way he describes practice and the way I could fit in with the team, it was perfect.”