In surprising news Saturday it was announced that Andrew Nembhard would be withdrawing his name from the NBA Draft and entering the transfer portal with the full intention of leaving Florida.
There had been rumblings of a potential transfer for Nembhard ever since the offseason ended but for many that didn’t seem like a probable outcome. Going pro was a possibility but it was unlikely there would be any NBA takers. For that reason the chance for him to return to Florida as a junior seemed to be a likely outcome but ultimately that wasn’t in the cards.
Unless he gets a waiver which seems like a possibility for just about anyone these days Nembhard will have to sit out a year and at a key point in his basketball development the decision to take a sit out transfer year shows that he really didn’t think Florida was the right fit. The dribble-drive offense White has tried to play never fit Nembhard’s more cerebral style of evaluating defenses before making a read, and the lack of players capable of playing in transition never allowed Nembhard to push a fast break like he did at Montverde or with the Canadian National Team.
In losing Nembhard the Gators no longer have one of, if not the best passers in the country who just put together two straight seasons of a top-50 assist rate in the country despite the fact he didn’t have great shooters or finishers around him. The jump shot never gained consistency and he never had the burst to create his own shot but his elite passing was enjoyed by big men such as Kevarrius Hayes and Kerry Blackshear Jr. who greatly benefited from his vision.
The reigns will now likely be passed over to Cleveland State transfer Tyree Appleby who fits more of the style White wants to play. Appleby is an electric scorer who can beat his man off the bounce and also has one of the best pull up shooting games in the country, efficiently knocking down 39% of his threes at Cleveland State despite the fact many were difficult attempts.
A team to watch for Nembhard to go to is Gonzaga. They were a school that recruited him heavily out of high school and every year they are trying to land a veteran point guard in the transfer portal. Additionally, their continuity ball screen offense is well suited for Nembhard’s game. When Florida was playing their best offense this year it was using ball screens with Nembhard running off a Kerry Blackshear screen while Omar Payne was in the paint sealing the help defender—an action straight out of the Gonzaga playbook.
Nembhard was a divisive player at times among fans but he will definitely be remembered for his surgical passing and his game winning shot against LSU as a freshman that sealed Florida’s NCAA Tournament bid. Once a Gator, always a Gator.