ESPN 100 center Omar Payne committed to Florida on Monday night.
Payne chose the Gators over several schools, but took official visits to only Florida and Florida State. He had trips scheduled to Ohio State and LSU for the coming weeks, but Gators coach Mike White was able to close the deal before those trips.
Payne, who attends Montverde Academy in Florida, was considered a long shot to leave the state for college.
The 6-foot-9 center is ranked No. 35 in the ESPN 100, slotting in as the No. 10 center in the class. Payne projects as someone who can make an immediate impact on the defensive end of the floor because of his shot-blocking ability and 7-foot-5 wingspan.
White is in the midst of building a potential top-10 class nationally. With a top-40 big man now in the fold, Florida has secured commitments from two ESPN 100 prospects: Payne and four-star Tre Mann (No. 30), one of the top point guards in the class. The Gators also have a pledge from New Jersey shooter Alex Klatsky as a preferred walk-on.
Payne’s commitment could also be the start of a crucial week for Florida, as five-star wing Scottie Lewis is set to decide between the Gators and Kentucky in the coming days.
Florida was considered the heavy favorite for most of the summer, but a recent official visit to Kentucky has added some uncertainty entering the final stretch. Klatsky is very close with Lewis and the two officially visited Gainesville together.
Florida is also still involved with five-star forward C.J. Walker, arguably the biggest breakout star of the summer.