Bartlett point guard signs with Florida Gators

A former Bartlett High School basketball player has signed with the University of Florida for the Gator’s 2014 season.

Chris Chiozza poses recently with his Florida Gators hat. Photo by Elizabeth Luster.

Chris Chiozza poses recently with his Florida Gators hat. Photo by Elizabeth Luster.

Chris Chiozza, a junior point guard at White Station and Bartlett native, made the commitment on May 14.

“I had offers from programs such as Memphis, UMass, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, etc.,” Chiozza said during a press conference at White Station. “But ultimately, I picked Florida because I felt it was the best fit for me, with their playing style and the success they’ve had with guards my height.”

At 5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds, Chiozza has had to work hard to make his presence known to recruiters. But his size may be misleading.

When on the court, this four-star “Blur with the ball in his hands,” as he was described by the recruiting Website Fortune 150, is like butter sizzling on a Memphis street during a mid-day in August. He’s fast, smooth and renlentless, and he’s just getting started.

Chiozza is joining Florida at what appears to be an opportunistic time. The Gators recently announced that Braxton Ogbueze, Florida’s freshman point guard, is transferring to the University of North Carolina Charlotte. The Gator’s combo guard Scottie Wilbekin also will graduate at the end of next year. That means the Shelby County ballplayer could see some court action this year with the Gator’s top point guard Kasey Hill.

Chiozza said that although he had dreamed of playing Division 1 from the time he was 2 years old, it wasn't until this past year that the reality of his talents began to really take form. Chiozza’s successful Spring AAU exposure with Memphis-based travel team, Team Thad, and the confidence that comes from earning a triple-double, 17 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds at an Indiana college showcase is evidence that Chris working hard to make his dream come true.

Despite his own efforts, Chiozza said he credits much of his success to the support of his family and coaches.

“(I thank) my father, Chris Chiozza Sr., and (Bartlett High School) coach Smith with instilling the drive and discipline necessary to play at a higher level,” Chiozza said. “And coaches Patino, Simpson and Carraway at White Station for all the extra time and energy they spent working with him everyday and Team Thad for believing the whole time I could really do this.”