A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning:
LOCKE, GLOVER TRANSFERRING OUT That Ques Glover decided to put his name in the NCAA transfer portal should have surprised no one Thursday. With nearly twice as many turnovers (60) as assists (32) in his two years at UF, he was unproductive on the offensive end and a liability on defense where he had issues with opponents’ bigger guards in half court sets.
The surprise was 3-point specialist Noah Locke, who has scored 933 points in three seasons at UF while hitting 40.3 percent of his three-point shots. He was thought to be completely bought in at Florida where he’s started for three seasons. His decision to enter the transfer portal is concerning since there are rumors that another 3-4 players may decide to leave.
With Tre Mann declared for the NBA Draft, the departure of Glover and Locke and the unlikely return of Keyontae Johnson, Florida coach Mike White has nine active scholarship players: Anthony Duruji (6-7, 220, 5th-year JR); Tyree Appleby (6-1, 170, 5th-year JR); Colin Castleton (6-11, 234, 4th-year JR); Osayi Osifo (6-7, 225, 4th-year JR); Scottie Lewis (6-5, 189, 3rd-year SO); Omar Payne (6-10, 230, 3rd-year SO); Jason Jitoboh (6-11, 285, 3rd-year SO); Samson Ruzhentsev (6-7, 192, 2nd-year FR) and Neils Lane (6-5, 205, 2nd-year FR). White has signed one high school player, Kowacie Reeves (6-6, 175).
Nearly all the higher quality high school recruits have signed their letters of intent but White has been actively recruiting seven or eight. Perhaps the two who seem most likely to sign with the Gators are Jordan Shorter (6-5, 180, Miami, FL/Orlando, FL West Oaks Academy) and Kristian Kocab (6-11, 220, Prague, Czech Republic/Chattanooga, TN Hamilton Heights Christian Academy).
For experience, White will have to go dip into the transfer portal more than ever before. The net experience of White with transfers has been very good during his six previous years. Ten players have transferred out counting Locke and Glover, but only one has had a significant impact elsewhere – Andrew Nembhard, who is a starter for No. 1 and unbeaten Gonzaga, which is the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA championship.
Here is the breakdown of the players who have transferred out and the ones who have transferred in during the previous six seasons:
TRANSFERRED OUT (10) Eric Hester (2016): In his only season at Florida, Hester played in 18 games and scored 13 points. He took a redshirt at Akron in 2017-18, then transferred to Tallahassee Community College in 2019. He hasn’t been heard from since.
Dontay Bassett (2016): In three years and 77 games at Florida, Bassett scored 132 points. He transferred to Weber State in 2020. At Weber State this past season he averaged 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Keith Stone (2016): Stone scored 526 points in 85 games at Florida, averaging 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He transferred to Miami for the 2019-20 season, averaging 4.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Gorjok Gak (2017): In three injury-plagued seasons at Florida, Gak scored 53 points and pulled in 96 rebounds. He transferred to California Baptist after the 2019-20 season where he averaged 13.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
DeAundrae Ballard (2017): He played in 59 games and scored 242 points in two seasons then transferred to South Alabama where he sat in 2019-20. Was not listed on the South Alabama roster in 2020-21.
Isaiah Stokes (2018): Stokes had weight issues (6-8, 280) and left after scoring 70 points in 26 games, transferring to Memphis. He sat out the 2019-20 season and was not listed on the 2020-21 roster.
Mike Okauru (2017): Okauru scored 179 points in 69 games at UF. After backing up Andrew Nembhard in 2018-19, he elected to transfer to UNC Wilmington. In two years at UNC-W he scored 537 points in 49 games, averaging 14.2 as a senior this past season.
Chase Johnson (2017): Johnson was expected to be a major contributor but a concussion ended his season in 2017-18 after four games. He played two games in 2018-19, then sat a semester before transferring in to Dayton, where he played in eight games in 2019-20, averaging 5.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He played in five games this past season, averaging 12.2 points and 6.0 rebounds before concussion issues resurfaced forcing him to leave the program.
Andrew Nembhard (2018): Nembhard came to Florida along with Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke. In two seasons and 67 games at UF he scored 666 points while handing out 367 assists. He transferred to Gonzaga where he’s currently averaging 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists for the unbeaten Zags.
Noah Locke (2018): Locke leaves Florida having scored 933 points in 92 games (10.1 per game) while hitting 217-538 of his 3-pointers (40.3%). He averaged 2.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game.
Ques Glover (2019): Glover leaves Florida after playing in 51 games in which he scored 185 points and had more turnovers (60) than assists (32).
Assessing those who left: The loss of Nembhard may well have allowed Tre Mann to reach his offensive potential this past season but Florida suffered mightily in the turnover (375 in 25 games) and assist (293) departments. Locke could prove to be another difficult loss. You could chalk up nearly all of the others as recruiting mistakes although we’ll never know what might have happened if Gorjok Gak and Chase Johnson had remained healthy.
TRANSFERRED IN (7) Canyon Barry (2016): A grad transfer from Charleston, Barry was the SEC Sixth Man of the Year in helping the Gators to the 2017 Elite Eight. He averaged 11.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while hitting 42.2% of his shots from the field and 88.3% of his free throws.
Jalen Hudson (2016): Hudson sat the 2016-17 season after transferring in from Virginia Tech. He had a brilliant 2017-18 season in which he averaged 15.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while hitting 40.4% of his 3-pointers. He slumped as a senior in 2018-19 when he averaged 9.3 points and 2.9 rebounds. His 3-point percentage dipped to 28.0. He scored 861 points in 70 games at UF.
Egor Koulechov (2017): In his one season at UF after transferring in from Rice, where he was an All-Conference USA player, Koulechov averaged 13.8 points while hitting 39.5% of his 3-pointers. He led the Gators in rebounding at 6.4 per game
Kerry Blackshear Jr. (2019): Blackshear transferred in to UF after three seasons at Virginia Tech. In his one season with the Gators, Blackshear averaged 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Anthony Duruji (2019): Duruji transferred in from Louisiana Tech in 2019, took a redshirt year, and then averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 2020-21 in which he started 17 of Florida’s 25 games.
Tyree Appleby (2019): After two seasons at Cleveland State, Appleby transferred to UF and took a redshirt in 2019-20. This past season at UF he averaged 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He shot 34.9% from the 3-point line and 82.9% from the foul line.
Colin Castleton (2020): In two seasons at Michigan, Castleton scored 99 points and grabbed 55 rebounds in 44 games. In 24 games at Florida this past season, Castleton averaged 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game. He hit 59.7% of his shots and 78.1% of his free throws while making second team All-SEC.
Assessing those who transferred in: All seven of the transfers have had a positive impact on the Florida roster. It does say something about the high school recruiting, however, that three transfers (Duruji, Appleby and Castleton) will start (if they don’t transfer out) with the possibility that two more transfers could fill out the starting lineup.
GATOR BASEBALL TRAVELS TO SOUTH CAROLINA
The No. 5 Gators (16-5, 3-0 SEC) travel to Columbia for their first SEC road trip of the season this weekend. Tommy Mace (4-0, 2.10 ERA) will get the start tonight against No. 25 South Carolina (13-6, 1-2 SEC). Jack Leftwich (4-0, 1.71 ERA) gets the Saturday start while lefty Hunter Barco (3-1, 5.26 ERA) goes Sunday. Key for the Florida pitcher will be keeping South Carolina slugger Wes Clarke (11 home runs, 23 RBI) in the ball yard.
The Gators, who have a team batting average of .302, have hit 27 home runs, led by Jud Fabian who has eight to go with 23 RBI.
UF SPRING SPORTS
Men’s tennis: It will be Senior Day at the Ring Tennis Complex as the 2nd-ranked Gators (14-1, 8-0 SEC) take on No. 31 Arkansas this afternoon.
Softball: The 5th-ranked Gators (21-3, 5-1 SEC) are home this weekend to face No. 13 LSU (18-8, 4-2 SEC) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Game times are 5 p.m. today, 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Men’s swimming: The 5th-ranked Gators are in third place with 161 points after two days of the NCAA Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Volleyball: The 7th-ranked Gators (19-3) concluded their regular season with a 3-1 win over Texas A&M (9-9) in College Station Thursday. The Gators wait until Sunday, April 4, to find out where they will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Lacrosse: The 11th-ranked Gators (5-2, 2-0 AAC) will be home for two American Athletic Conference matches this weekend against Cincinnati. The Gators face the Bearcats at 4 p.m. today and 12 noon Sunday, both matches at Donald Dizney Stadium.
Women’s tennis: The 24th-ranked Gators (8-6, 6-3 SEC) beat No. 21 Ole Miss, 4-1, in Oxford Thursday evening. The Gators will be in Starkville to face No. 36 Mississippi State.
SWEET 16 PREDICTIONS Saturday Games
Midwest Region: I like No. 8 seed Loyola of Chicago (26-4) to knock off No. 12 Oregon State (19-12). I don’t think Oregon State has an answer for Cameron Krutwig, who averages 15.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Loyola is a 7-point favorite … In the other Midwest game, I like No. 11 Syracuse (18-9) to continue its surprising run by upsetting No. 2 Houston (26-3). I think the difference will be that long 2-3 zone that Syracuse runs and the outside shooting of Buddy Boeheim who has scored 55 points while hitting 13-23 from the 3-point line in two NCAA Tournament games. Houston is a 6.5-point favorite.
South Region: Baylor (24-2) is starting to look like the pre-COVID-19 Baylor defensively and I think that will be enough for the No. 1 Bears to smother No. 5 Villanova (18-6). Baylor is a 7.5-point favorite ... No. 3 Arkansas (24-6) already owns a win over No. 15 Oral Roberts this season. Expect both teams to score in the 80s but I think the Razorbacks have too much depth. Arkansas is an 11-point favorite.
Sunday Games West Region: I’ve seen enough of No. 1 and unbeaten Gonzaga (28-0) to believe they are head and shoulders the best team in this tournament. The Zags are 13.5-point favorites to knock off No. 5 Creighton (22-8). I’ll be surprised if it’s that close. Creighton has no one capable of handling Drew Timme on the inside or stopping Corey Kispert from lighting it up outside … No. 7 Oregon (21-6) looked sensational in destroying No. 2 Iowa in its second round game while No. 6 Southern Cal (24-7) beat No. 3 Kansas by a whopping 24 points. Southern Cal already owns one win over Oregon this year but I like Oregon to win. Southern Cal is favored by two.
East Region: I wasn’t impressed with No. 1 Michigan (22-4) against LSU and I think the Wolverines guards won’t know what hit them when No. 4 Florida State (18-6) presses them. Michigan is a 2.5-point favorite but I think the Seminoles will send the last hope of the Big Ten packing … In the other East Region game, I think Alabama (26-6) will beat UCLA (20-9) by far worse than the 6.5 points the Crimson Tide are favored by.
ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: The Tragic strike again! The Orlando Tragic (you might know them as the Magic) can’t win (15-29 record) with three true stars (Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon) so they traded them away for a bunch of second round draft picks and some players who are destined to keep the team battling Houston, Minnesota, Detroit and Washington for a chance to draft Cade Cunningham or Evan Mosely with the No. 1 pick this summer. The Tragic will figure out a way to screw this up. Lest we forget, this is the franchise that put all its eggs in the Penny Hardaway basket and let Shaquille O’Neal go.