Thoughts of the Day: March 17, 2020

BASKETBALL ROSTER SHUFFLES WITH BASSETT TRANSFER

Dontay Bassett has elected to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Bassett spent four years at UF (redshirt as a freshman) and never really developed offensively although he was a very good defender. He scored only 160 points in three years (96 in 2018-19 when he averaged 2.7 per game), but battled through injuries in the recently completed season, scoring only 21 points in the 17 games in which he played.


As a graduate, Bassett can transfer anywhere without having to sit out. A native of Oakland, California, he might choose to go back west to be nearer to family. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him transfer to Florida Atlantic where he would play for Dusty May, the former Florida assistant who helped recruit Bassett to UF.


With Bassett leaving and Kerry Blackshear Jr. having used up his eligibility, Mike White now has the NCAA limit of 13 scholarship players for next year. Of course, that could change with transfers or with players electing to leave for the NBA, but the corona virus not only has torpedoed March Madness but it has seriously altered the NBA season. Plans are for the league to crank up as soon as possible once the all clear is given to resume play and have crowds in the arenas again but the draft is a totally different matter that will have to be addressed. Will the league go ahead with a June draft? Or will it wait until after it holds playoffs so that teams can draft according to needs?


Currently, the Gators have three – freshman Scottie Lewis and sophomores Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson – who are likely to take a look at the NBA. Per ESPN, Lewis is considered the 38thbest prospect while Johnson is the 64th. Nembhard isn’t listed among ESPN’s top 105 prospects. It’s possible that Lewis could slip into the late first round, but second round is more likely. Johnson has moved up considerably but he’s mid-second round, at least currently. Nembhard isn’t likely to be drafted.


The only way these three can move up is pre-draft workouts but that’s going to be very difficult if the league elects to play instead of completely postponing its season. Right now, postponing seems the least likely option.


If the draft is held in August, which would seem the case if June and July are used for the playoffs, then it would certainly work in Florida’s favor. In that Nembhard, Johnson and Lewis would have so much uncertainty facing them they would be very smart to simply stay in school for one more year. Another year of college basketball, after all, wouldn’t hurt any of them.


One other thing of note: Second round money is NOT guaranteed in the NBA but first round money is. Another reason for Lewis, Johnson and Nembhard to stick around one more year.

UF BASKETBALL ROSTER AS OF MARCH 16 REDSHIRT JUNIORS (2): Anthony Duruji (6-8, 220); Tyree Appleby (6-1, 165)

JUNIORS (4): Andrew Nembhard (6-5, 200); Noah Locke (6-3, 205); Keyontae Johnson (6-5, 235); Osayi Osifo (6-8, 215, JUCO TR)

SOPHOMORES (5): Scottie Lewis (6-5, 185); Tre Mann (6-4, 180); Omar Payne (6-10, 222); Jason Jitoboh (6-11, 280); Jaques Glover (5-11, 175)

FRESHMEN (2): Niels Lane (6-5, 195); Samson Ruzhentsev (6-8, 205)

THIS TRANSFER MIGHT BE ON FLORIDA’S RADAR Landers Nolley (6-7, 230), who was Virginia Tech’s leading scorer (15.8) and second leading rebounder (5.8) as a redshirt freshman, has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. He’s a wing who can play some high post, more of a slasher than a shooter, but entirely capable of going off on a tear when everything he throws up goes in. He had a high game of 30 against Clemson and he hit seven three-pointers in a game against Lehigh.


Given Florida’s history of transfers from Virginia Tech – Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Hudson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. – and the fact that as a true freshman he was on the VaTech team with Blackshear, Nolley might have Florida high on his list. UF recruited Nolley out of Langston Hughes High School in Atlanta back in 2018.


If Florida were to lose someone else to transfer or to the NBA Draft, adding a transfer would make sense, particularly one as skilled as Nolley.


ON THE MOVE IN THE SEC Three from Vanderbilt have entered the NCAA transfer portal. Leaving are Matthew Moyer (6-8, 229, JR), Olton Jankovic (6-10, 212, FR) and Trace Arbuckle (6-2, 173, FR). Arbuckle averaged 3.0 points per game while Moyer averaged 2.0 points and 2.2 rebounds. Jankovic averaged 0.8 points and 1.0 rebounds.


Transferring from Alabama is redshirt freshman Raymond Hawkins (6-9, 243). Hawkins is from California and is expected to transfer closer to home.


Franco Miller (6-3, 202, RFR) is transferring from Ole Miss. He averaged 0.3 points and 0.9 rebounds per game.


JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU’VE SEEN EVERYTHING Rick Pitino is back in the US and coaching college basketball once again. He’s the new head coach at Iona, replacing Tim Cluess, who stepped down after 10 years due to health concerns. Pitino, who has spent the last couple of years coaching Nick Calathes’ team to championships in Greece, could get zapped by the NCAA before he ever coaches a game at Iona since there is an ongoing investigation into Louisville due to fallout from the FBI’s findings in the college basketball corruption trials. Just to refresh your memory, Pitino was fired for cause after he was linked to allegations that Adidas paid $100,000 to have prospect Brian Bowen sign with the school.


If the NCAA goes after Pitino, he will fight back and the NCAA’s record in court against coaches who fight back isn’t very good. See the NCAA vs. Jerry Tarkanian. The NCAA hounded Tark but he fought back and eventually won an out of court settlement for something like $2.5 million.


If the NCAA doesn’t successfully derail Pitino, he will win and win big at Iona. That you can count on.


WHY DOESN’T THE NCAA … ?

Suppose the government gets a real handle on the corona virus in the next couple of months, possible since a vaccine is already being tested. If the virus is contained, you know that baseball will crank up a shortened season and the NBA will go ahead with playoffs. So what does the NCAA do? Does it just sit on its hands and let a summer go by, meaning no sports until September? Or does it do something totally outside its normally conservative box by going pro-active … perhaps cranking up baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, golf, tennis and gymnastics for a whirlwind of championships from June until the end of August?


Although nothing has been decided by Major League Baseball, something has to be done about the draft. If there were college baseball and travel ball teams playing in the summer, they could hold a decent draft. As it is right now, a June draft would be quite inconclusive since high school baseball hadn’t even begun in the northern states when everything shut down and the college season was only four weeks old. Moving the draft back makes sense for MLB. Having even an abbreviated college baseball season would certainly help MLB scouts make their decisions and they would have a chance to see the high school kids on the travel ball circuit.


It’s my opinion that the NCAA needs to have a plan in place to get the public re-engaged in sports as soon as possible. If fans have to go until August, then you might lose a rather large chunk of them. People get into routines and once they grow accustomed to watching movies or TV series on Amazon or Netflix or get into doing things with the family, it might be too easy to spend the time on something other than sports.


The student-athletes will be involved in their classwork until the month of May and in some cases a bit beyond, so if the virus has been contained – I’m not saying probable, but it is possible – then it wouldn’t be all that difficult to get sports going on campuses again. The question is would the NCAA think outside the box and have a plan in place to get things going?


TRIVIA QUESTION Which major college coach at a Power Five school had a 73-59 record at a low major prior to his Power Five job and then went 85-66 in his first five years on the big job? Fans at the low major thought good riddance since he went 9-19 in his last year there and at the Power Five school they wanted to fire him three years into the gig. Judging by what’s happened in the years since, he’s done pretty well and the boosters no longer want him fired.


WHO GETS HURT THE MOST BY NO SPRING FOOTBALL? Georgia would win the kewpie doll if you ask me. They have a new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach and a grad transfer quarterback who would have a problem reading a defense spelled CAT if you spotted him the C and the A. Todd Monken’s new offense isn’t being implemented and he’s got to get on the same page with Matt Luke, who happens to be the new O-line coach. And then there is Newman, who had a 4.1% interception rate against man coverage and who ran a lot of the time not exactly by design but because he couldn’t exactly get a read on the defense.


All this does indeed bode well for the Florida Gators, who return their starting (Kyle Trask) and backup (Emory Jones) quarterbacks, four starters on the O-line, the same QB coach (Brian Johnson) and OC (Dan Mullen) as well as the O-line coach. Spring football is important at Florida, for certain, but the Gators don’t have a lot of new parts trying to figure out how they all fit together. Georgia does. Advantage Florida.

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