The deadline for players to enter the transfer portal and be eligible to play instantly was July 1st, so we know exactly who could be available to the Gators should they choose to pursue an additional player.
Currently, with the news of Colin Castleton’s return, the Gators have one remaining scholarship. That is based on the assumption that Keyontae Johnson will be back and able to play, which is appearing to be the case. He has made it known that he is looking to be cleared to play, and the actions of the coaching staff have suggested they think he’ll be back. They haven’t been offering a ton of forwards in the transfer portal, something they’d likely do if they knew, or had a strong suspicion, that Johnson would be gone.
Despite being months into the offseason there are still a number of quality players available in the portal. Right up until the deadline there was a constant stream of productive players choosing to leave their team so there is a lot of free agent talent out there, and not a lot of teams with space. This could put the Gators in a situation to potentially land an impact piece late.
Here are the best players remaining in the transfer portal.
As physically dominant a center as there is in college basketball, the 7’0”, 285 Cockburn will be able to play anywhere he wants in the country next season. After averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Illini last year a lot of people thought he was destined to go pro, but his poor performance in the combine led to his return and ultimately a slightly surprising transfer decision. With Colin Castleton returning, it wouldn’t seem to be a mutual fit to bring in Cockburn.
Marcus Carr tested the NBA waters but didn’t receive much interest, the plight of smaller guards like him who might not have high pro potential but are absolute studs in college. He’ll have his pick of anywhere in the country to play, but the Gators could make a play for the 19 point, 5 assist Canadian point guard. Obviously the Gators have Tyree Appleby returning, but if they were to land Carr he would unquestionably be the starter. Florida hasn’t been involved in recruiting him, but things can always change quickly in a hectic college basketball world.
This is a name all too familiar to Florida fans as his 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals played a huge part in Oral Roberts’ upset win over the Gators in the NCAA Tournament. Obanor is arguably the best stretch big in college basketball and while he doesn’t have great size or athleticism he is extremely skilled and has shown over and over again that he can compete in the high major ranks. Would some combination of power forward and center minutes at Florida be the best fit for Obanor? Maybe not, but he’s one of the best players on the market so if the Gators are trying to get as much talent as possible on campus he is someone to reach out to.
A highly-rated recruit originally from Guinea playing his high school basketball in Memphis, things with the Tigers didn’t work out for him as a freshman. Cisse started every game but wasn’t often on the floor in crunch time and ultimately averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. While his freshman season wasn’t stellar, he was just that–a freshman, and while he probably wasn’t ready for a starter’s role in a good league he is still a 6’10”, 220 NBA prospect with huge upside and if the Gators could sell him on backing up Castleton for a year and then taking over as the undisputed starter it would be a massive get.
Tyrece Radford is another name you might remember as he came up huge against the Gators in the NCAA Tournament scoring 18 points and providing dogged defense on the other side of the floor. Radford is a career 12 point, 5 rebound, 2 assist guard who has shown he can get it done at the highest level of the sport, but unfortunately he comes with some baggage. He has missed several games due to some legal trouble away from the sport, something that will certainly play a factor in what teams are going to be interested in landing him next. A physical, competitive guard who has a nose for scoring and rebounding the basketball he will be a valuable piece for whichever team he goes to next–so long as he stays out of trouble.
Isiah Small is one player that the Gators have officially reached out to and have been pursuing for a couple of weeks. Playing for Texas State, Small hasn’t yet been a dominant player but he has shown flashes of brilliance and has all the physical tools you want in a basketball player. He’s 6’8” with a 7’2” wingspan and his 42% of his threes last season (though it was on small volume, just over 2 attempts per game). An athletic, long wing that has shown the ability to knock down some shots you can easily see why he could end up as a solid high major player so the Gators would be wise to continue the pursuit.
Cincinnati has been known as a physical, defensive minded team in recent memory and Keith Williams embodies that style of play. He plays with immense toughness and loves taking on difficult defensive matchups, something that Mike White would absolutely love. A 6’5” guard he’s got good size and also was productive last season as a senior scoring 14 points per game while adding 2.5 assists. Florida has a lot of off guards on the roster but adding Williams could shift someone like Brandon McKissic more to the point, and if you can add a really good fifth year player things have a way of working themselves out in the rotation.
As you can see, there are some really good players in the portal, but there aren’t natural fits that seem to make a ton of sense. If the Gators were to be able to land a useful piece it would probably be one of three things:
- A proven backup center.
This would be great, but there aren’t many centers on the market and most of them are on the market for a reason–to get more minutes. So, this would be a tough position to fill.
- A proven backup point guard.
Just like with the center position, not many players are looking to transfer to be a backup to Tyree Appleby. However, with the star potential in the portal, there are some point guards who could even usurp the returning Appleby.
- A high upside player.
Isiah Small is a good example of this, as would be Moussa Cisse. If the Gators could get a player that’s willing to learn for a year and not get many minutes, it would be a great use of Florida’s last scholarship. That might not be the most enticing pitch to a prospective player, but while Florida couldn’t offer many minutes this upcoming season they could definitely suggest there would be a lot of minutes in 2022-2023.
With the deadline passed for players entering the portal to play this upcoming season, we now know what the entire market for players is. This is what would be available to the Gators and if they want to make a push, now is the time.