In December 2012, Prep Rally introduced the wider world to Zach Hodskins, a one-handed, sharp-shooting phenom from Georgia. The teen was born without a left hand but has found a way to excel on the basketball court while using only his right hand to dribble and launch deep jump shots.
In August, Billy Donovan offered Hodskins a preferred walk-on role with the University of Florida, a remarkable accomplishment that served to solidify what anyone who had seen the senior's highlight reel already knew; Hodskins is one incredible talent. Now the Milton star has accepted that offer, officially pledging to join the Gators during a weekend visit to Gainesville.
"Iv [sic] officialy committed to the University of Florida basketball," Hodskins tweeted. "I know God has put me in the right place #GatorNation #GatorBasketball."
The Florida commitment caps a whirlwind year for the Milton Academy (Milton, Ga.) senior, who received national attention beginning with this feature by USA Today's Jason Jordan and gradually built up recruiting momentum until the nation's biggest programs were considering a roster spot for the shooting guard.
Calling Hodskins' suitors 'the nation's biggest programs' is no hyperbole. In addition to the walk-on offer from Florida, two sources close to the Hodskins family confirmed to Prep Rally that Kentucky coach John Calipari personally called Hodskins and invited him to visit the Wildcats.
Kentucky's interest never advanced beyond the initial wooing stage, but the fact that Calipari himself was reaching out to the one-handed phenom speaks to the fact that he was certainly serious about Hodskins' potential.
Some might downplay Hodskins' commitment to Florida because he will be a walk-on rather than a scholarship athlete, meaning that he will receive a spot on the squad, but will not be designated one of the school's prized full scholarship positions. Still, it's worth noting that there have been a number of walk-ons who have gone on to reach stardom years later. Scottie Pippen and former Jazz great Jeff Hornacek are among them, as is former UConn star Andre Drummond.
Now that Hodskins' college decision is over he can go back to focusing on his senior season with Milton Academy. The Georgia school is a perennial powerhouse, so Hodskins should get plenty of opportunities to continue refining his game against top-flight prep opposition.
Given where's he's headed, he'll need all the work he can get. Hodskins has achieved his success with an incredible work ethic, and his commitment to Florida only calls for him to double-down. There's little doubt he'll do that and more.