The Florida Gators have been eliminated from the tournament and the offseason has officially begone with three players deciding to enter their names in the NCAA transfer portal.
Sophomore guards Deandre Ballard, Micheal Okauru, as well as Junior forward Keith Stone have all decided that Gainesville is no longer a place they want to call home. All three players were recruited by Mike White.
Ballard only averaged 4.6 points a game in his just 11.8 minutes a game average, while Okauru only averaged 1.6 in just 6.6 minutes a night. The biggest surprise came from the announcement of Keith Stone deciding to leave the program after averaging 6.1 points a game and 4 rebounds a game, averaging 19.2 minutes.
Stone was heading into what looked like a starting job next season, and add a veteran presence to the lineup that will be only be led by sophomores. With players like Andrew Nembhard, Keyontae Johnson, and Noah Locke, Stone was sure to see starter minutes.
With so much turnover the Gators are sure to have a similar season to this one that had them lose a total of 16 games, and barely making the tournament, right?
Wrong because with these players on the roster leaving, it makes room for the Recruiting that could have the Gators back in the upper echelon of the SEC. Coach White’s 2019 recruiting class ranked in the No.6 in the country.
The class consists of two McDonald’s All-American’s Scottie Lewis out of New Jersey, and hometown kid out of Gainesville, Florida. These two guards come in very talented with two different games that will complement the players still on the team.
Scottie Lewis is a 6’5 shooting guard, with elite athleticism that makes his presence felt on both sides of the court. His defense is going to White’s aggressive style as they now have a player that can play the top of the full court press that he loves to run.
Tre Mann is a 6’4 combo guard that has elite ball handling ability, and range to spare when it comes to shooting from deep, something the Gators struggled to find consistency at all season. Mann should form a complementary tandem with 2018 McDonald’s All-American Andrew Nembhard in the backcourt.
Mike White has been known for the productive guard play in his scheme, but the problem for his teams have been the frontcourt play or lack thereof. The Gators haven’t had a dominant force in the middle since Patrick Young, but coach White was able to add major beef and length to his rotation for next season.
Adding length with four-star center Omar Payne out of Montverde Academy. At 6’9 and a 7’4 wingspan, his length and shot blocking ability should finally complete the scrappy mentally that Mike White really wants to play with.
The Last player in the class was a late addition, but one that really adds bulk it up. Jason Jitobo is a 6’10 270lb center that really knows how to use his frame to get position hard to move from his spot.
His body will need to be refined to become more athletic, but his size alone will very be welcomed to a team that is only a consistent rebounder away from making deep runs in March.