A player that Florida’s coaching staff is extremely familiar with hit the transfer portal early on Tuesday and St. John’s wing LJ Figueroa announced he was making himself available.
The 6’6” junior is currently an early entrant to the NBA Draft and is still exploring his professional opportunities but if he returns to college he’ll have a ton of quality programs inquiring and it wouldn’t at all be surprising if the Gators were one of them.
Why? They’ve already made two attempts at landing him.
First, as a high school recruit in the class of the 2017 the Gators went after him. Figueroa made multiple unofficial trips to Gainesville from West Oaks, Florida where he played in high school and when he wasn’t on his way to the O’Dome Florida’s coaches were going to see him.
Ultimately they weren’t able to get him to commit (Figueroa ended up having to go the JUCO route out of high school) but that wasn’t the last time the Gators tried to get his services. Last offseason Chris Mullin was fired from the head coaching job at St. John’s and Figueroa entered the transfer portal and Florida was one of the first teams to contact him. He ended up returning to the Red Storm to play under new coach Mike Anderson (formerly of Arkansas) so Florida was unsuccessful again.
Considering Florida has tried a pair of times to get Figueroa to play for them it would be surprising if they didn’t at least reach out for a conversation this time around. Currently Florida doesn’t have the space for him but it didn’t stop them from reaching out to Mac McClung, something that suggests there is a possibility of another unexpected player moving out.
Figueroa is a 6’6” forward who wants to be playing the three but played a lot of the four under Chris Mullin using his powerful 200-pound frame to battle with bigger players. He’s been a fairly consistent three-point shooter hitting 37% of his long balls this year as a junior after hitting 38% as a sophomore, something that adds to his value.
Wherever Figueroa has played, he has been productive. An absolute monster as a freshman in junior college he averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while hitting 48% of his threes and when he went to St. John’s he was able to instantly contribute. Despite the fact the Red Storm struggled and Figueroa was one of the focuses for the other team he averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists and he kept up that performance this past season averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.
Another area Figueroa shows excellence is on the defensive end, especially when it comes to getting steals. On his career he’s averaging 1.9 steals per game and had one of the best steal percentages in the high major ranks last season and he did it without committing a ton of fouls.
A physical wing who competes on the defensive end and hits threes on the other, you can see why Florida’s coaches have desired Figueroa in the past. The fact that he’ll be a sit-one-play-one isn’t exactly ideal but considering his talent and production he would certainly be worth landing—should a scholarship open up. It’s entirely unknown if a scholarship for Figueroa would become available but if one did he would almost certainly be the first name on Florida’s list so look for them to reach out in the immediate future. This is definitely a name to watch.