Growing up without a left hand never stopped Zach Hodskins from draining three-pointers and dribbling around opponents, and now the 17-year old shooting guard is taking his talents to Gainesville, where he'll play for Billy Donovan's Florida Gators.
Hodskins, the 6-foot-4 200-pound shooting guard from Milton High School in Georgia, was spotted last summer by an assistant coach from the school who was scouting another prospect.
"It's always been my dream growing up," Hodskins said. "I never expected it to be like this, but the hard work has paid off. I'm ecstatic I'm going to be a Florida Gator."
A 'preferred' walk-on slot means Hodskins will be guaranteed to make the roster, but will not receive a full scholarship, The Independent Florida Gator, the student newspaper, reported. Hodskins considered playling at a few schools, including the University of Kentucky.
"At Florida, I'm going to have every opportunity to get on the floor and play,' he told The Gant Daily newspaper. "The situation was different at Kentucky."
Billy Donovan, the Gators' basketball coach, had conversations with Hodskins and told him if he works hard, he’ll play, he said.
Hodskins, who is missing his left arm from his elbow down, has had a strong season in high school. His scouting report says he has strong court vision and three-point ability, the Independent Florida Gator reported. He averaged 11 points per game in the 2012-13 season.
One YouTube video shows Hodskins hit jump shots in a high school gym and display his ball handling.
"I love to see people watch me for the first time, with the shock on their face," he said. The teen said he hopes to be an example for kids who have to overcome obstacles in life.
"I kind of understood my path in life," he told ESPN. "You know, God wanted me to do this and I fell in love with basketball and I just took it all the way. I never gave up and that’s how I reach out to kids."
He told ESPN the most challenging element of his development was overcoming how people looked at him.
"It's a really mental thing," he told the station. "I just had to push through that; know that they're only looking at me because they're curious."