Considering Florida’s coaching staff has been active in the transfer market in each of the last four summers it should be no surprise that they have already been active on the phones since the season ended and have been in touch with multiple available players that threw their hats into the portal. The Gators have been in touch with traditional transfers, graduate transfers, and JUCO transfers and while they have reached out to athletes of all positions there has definitely been one area they have been particularly focused in—the post.
As it stands right now the Gators are looking young in the frontcourt and after having multiple centers on the roster it’s looking like they might run a bit thin. Sophomores-to-be Omar Payne and Jason Jitoboh are set to return as true centers but they’re not that experienced and incoming JUCO transfer Osayi Osifo might be someone who could play some spot minutes there but he doesn’t have prototypical size at the position and had some defensive issues at times this past season.
With multiple offers out to multiple centers it’s clear that shoring up that position is a focus of the coaching staff, though it’s worth noting that some of the centers they have pursued aren’t instantly eligible graduate transfers so some of the targets would be to improve depth down the line. Considering the issues they have had at the position and how many players have cycled through the position without ever getting to play a regular role in the rotation, this strategy certainly makes sense. They have reached out to every five-man of quality that has entered the portal and by casting a wide net there is a good chance they’re able to land one of their targets, the only question is whether it’s a player that helps instantly or someone that’s going to contribute after a redshirt season.
With Florida looking set on landing a big man transfer, here are the main players they are pursuing with a scouting report on each one of them.
6’8” 245 Pounds
Bergenfield, New Jersey
The Gators have struggled to defensively rebound recently and for that reason it makes sense why they’d reach out to Marfo who was first in the country in defensive rebound rate last season. Oh, and he was no slouch when it came to offensive rebounding either where he was second in the nation. At 6’8” and 245 pounds he’s extremely physical and has long arms allowing him to go up and get the ball in traffic.
Because he grabbed so many offensive rebounds he was near the rim a lot in a position to score and that allowed him to get fouled a bunch, something that allowed him to put points on the board despite having a fairly limited offensive game. Marfo was one of the worst post up players in the country last season shooting only 19%, so he’s really someone who is on the floor to dominate the glass and not do much else.
Florida’s chances probably aren’t great here, and truthfully they may not be that interested in recruiting him hard against all the other schools pursuing him. While his rebounding is fantastic there isn’t a lot else he brings to the table and that could make him tough to play in some matchups.
Dwight Wilson III
6’7” 260 Pounds
In keeping with the theme of pursuing rebounders the Gators are after Dwight Wilson III, a Florida native who was one of the best rebounders in the country despite not being particularly long or tall. What he lacks in length he makes up for in muscle and width, and any time he parked himself in the paint there wasn’t anyone who was able to push him out of there.
James Madison posted him up a ton and nearly half of his offense came from post touches. He was actually a productive scorer down there shooting 50% on post up attempts, but that was against Colonial Athletic Association bigs that he mostly overpowered. His balance around the rim isn’t great and he lacks the touch a player like him that plays below the rim needs, and that definitely is concerning when trying to project him to the high major level.
As a rebounding machine from the state of Florida you can certainly understand why the staff would reach out but I don’t suspect the team will be that interested in taking him. He’s awfully limited offensively, and at his size he struggles to move defensively and wouldn’t work at all in Florida’s schemes. We’ll see though.
Long Beach State
6’10” 195 Pounds
You may remember Joshua Morgan from when the Gators took on Long Beach State early in the season. Despite the fact that Florida won handedly, Morgan played a really solid game (6 points and 7 rebounds in 13 minutes) and it may have started the interest that led to Florida giving him an offer when he entered the portal. Morgan was only a freshman this season meaning he would be a true transfer that would have to redshirt next season, but there is a lot of intrigue there and I could see why the Gators would be interested.
Morgan played a lot of good teams last season including Florida, Providence, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Saint Mary’s, and Arizona…and played well in all of those games. Despite being a reserve on a not-so-great Long Beach State team he was noticeably comfortable against high major competition and that’s a great sign for a freshman.
A bouncy 6’10”, he ended the season 10th in the country in block percentage. Not only is he a great leaper with length but he moves his feet well as a lighter big man and that allows him to be impactful defensively. There were definitely some lapses at times, just like you’d expect from a freshman, but he was an animal defending the hoop and those instincts will likely translate to other elements of his defensive game soon. Offensively he played within himself and didn’t take bad shots, shooting 63% from the field and finishing almost everything around the rim.
One of the reasons he is such an intriguing player is that he’s only 195 pounds. Considering he was so effective at such a low weight I’m sure Florida’s coaches are salivating at the thought of what he could be after a redshirt season with Preston Greene. The potential is through the roof with Morgan and if the Gators are able to land him he could be a great program piece. He’s a west coast guy so Florida’s recruitment would be all about basketball but they definitely could sell him on why he would thrive in Gainesville.
Florida hasn’t yet reached out to this player, but…
6’9” 205 Pounds
Columbia, South Carolina
To my knowledge the Gators haven’t reached out to Bruner but he’s one of the best frontcourt players on the market so I think he’s worth noting. Unlike the other players on this list he’s a stretch big with great shooting and ball skills, and the ability to play Bruner at the five would revolutionize any offense. All kinds of high major schools, including Florida State, are after him and it could be tough for the Gators to land him, but he’s one of the best grad transfers on the market and he happens to be a post player so I had to make a note of him here.