Mike White had another disappointing season last year with a loaded Florida team. This year’s team has nearly as much talent and should be a lock for another tournament run.
2019 Record: 19-12 (11-7), 5th in SEC
Key Additions: (F) Samson Ruzhentsev (No.46 prospect), (G) Niels Lane (No.139 prospect), (F) Colin Castleton (Michigan transfer), (G) Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State transfer), (F) Anthony Duruji (Louisiana Tech transfer)
Florida had lofty expectations last year after being ranked No.6 preseason. A lot had a national title run prediction for the Gators. Instead a rough out of conference run and an underwhelming SEC record put Mike White’s team on the bubble for the tournament.
An 8-5 non conference record was highlighted by wins against No.18 Xavier, Miami and Providence. The losses piled up however and were concerning despite coming against good competition. Utah State at home was particularly concerning just before conference play.
The Gators would’ve liked a better showing than 11-7 in the SEC. Outside of losses to Missouri and Ole Miss they didn’t have any bad losses. But they were unable to consistently beat the top teams. The win against No.4 Auburn was the best win of a disappointing year.
Projected Starting Lineup: Tyree Appleby (G, Jr), Noah Locke (G, Jr), Scottie Lewis (G, So), Keyontae Johnson (F, Jr), Omar Payne (F, So)
The Gators were shocked when point guard Andrew Nembhard announced he was transferring from the program back in May. Tyree Appleby could be the man to fill the void. Appleby spent last year practicing with the Gators while sitting out due to transfer rules. He led the Horizon League in assists his final year averaging 5.6 per game.
Noah Locke is coming off a solid season where he led the SEC in offensive rating in conference play. He’s an assassin from deep shooting a team high 43.2% beyond the arc. The junior is also very skilled with the ball which could mean he runs the offense at times.
We see you, Keyontae Johnson 👀 pic.twitter.com/UQrxCSCtLt
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 27, 2020
Scottie Lewis and Keyontae Johnson are two of the best athletes on the team. Lewis is an All-SEC Freshman player who should take off this year. He’s another sharpshooter with superior defense for the Gators. Johnson made First Team All-SEC after ranking in the top of the SEC in numerous categories on KenPom. Aside from his strong offensive numbers he plays outstanding defense and crashes the boards better than anyone on the team.
Omar Payne should round off the frontcourt. The former No.45 prospect had limited minutes last year but is poised to break out. He was one of the top shot blockers for Florida and rebounded at a really high level.
The primary backups in the backcourt will be Tre Mann, Ques Glover and Niels Lane. Mann and Glover got about equal minutes a year ago. Glover was the better shooter but is just 5’11” which can limit him at times. Mann’s 6’5″ size makes him more of a factor around the glass and better defensively.
Niels Lane will fight for minutes along with incoming freshman Samson Ruzhentsev. Lane has a good shot and good ball handling which puts him in line for the 1 or 2. Ruzhentsev’s larger frame can make him more effective at the 3 or 4 where he can utilize his ability to penetrate the basket.
A pair of transfers will backup the frontcourt. Anthony Duruji and Colin Castleton are both solid rebounders and shot blockers. At 6’7″ Duruji could see some time in the backcourt as well. Michigan got a lot of production from Castleton last year in just 7.9 minutes per game.
Florida have a lot of stating experience in the lineup. This team is young but that shouldn’t keep them from being a factor right away. Mike White has a good amount of depth from the transfer market and should have a team factoring in the top of the SEC.
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