JUST CALL THIS GRAD TRANSFER U
Perhaps the only thing missing from the Florida basketball complex is a flashing neon sign that reads “Grad Transfer U: Open for Business.”
Mike White grins at the mention of the success he's had with two previous graduate transfers. Canyon Barry was the SEC Sixth Man of the Year while helping the Gators make the Elite Eight in the 2016-17 season and Egor Koulechov led the team in rebounding and finished second in scoring in 2017-18. Both Barry and Koulechov made the Gators a better basketball team in their one year in Gainesville and they remain close to White – “two of my favorite guys that we've had.”
The latest member of the Florida Graduate Transfer Club could very well be the best yet and could take the Gators to places they haven't been since the Billy Donovan-coached 2013-14 Gators reached the Final Four. Kerry Blackshear Jr. arrives on campus with second team All-ACC credentials after a season in which he averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds at Virginia Tech, which was a missed shot at the buzzer from knocking off Duke and making the Elite Eight last year. Blackshear is a 6-10, 250-pounder with dancer's feet and the ability to score from the foul line on in. When he announced that he was leaving Virginia Tech, Blackshear was viewed as a near guarantor of a very deep run in the NCAA Tournament in 2019-20, which is why schools like Kentucky and Michigan State went so hard after him.
He chose Florida, in part because Orlando is his home town and he grew up a Gator fan, but also because he had inside information regarding the Florida coaching staff, future teammates, the school and the social environment. As he was narrowing down his choices, Blackshear spoke regularly with former Virginia Tech teammate Jalen Hudson, who spent his final two seasons of eligibility playing for the Gators.
“He told me this was a great opportunity,” Blackshear said at Florida's media day. “He told me what I would be getting into and how it's different than what I experienced at Virginia Tech. He's a really good guy who is in a good place. I leaned on him for advice and he was someone who helped lead me to a very good place.”
If Blackshear's one-and-done year at Florida gets the Gators to the NCAA promised land, it might make this the ideal landing spot for the next great grad transfer.
“Grad Transfer U, put that out there!” White says. “See who's available in the spring!”
BALANCE IS A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE