Florida Basketball Lands JUCO Transfer

Florida reportedly got a surprise commitment on Tuesday as Junior College forward Tuongthach Gatkek announced via his Twitter that he was committed to the Gators. Gatkek, who goes by Tuon, just completed his first season for Trinity Valley Community College. Trinity Valley plays in one of the best Junior College conferences in the country and performed with excellence, finishing the season with a record of 23-2.

 

Gatkek is listed at 6’9” and 175 pounds and watching some game footage of him, his frame looks exactly like what you’d expect from a player with those measurables. However, he did just complete his first season of JUCO ball, so hopefully getting into a high major strength and conditioning program could do wonders.

 

Coming out of high school Gatkek didn’t have much D1 interest which led to him going the JUCO route. The Amarillo, Texas native ended up going to a good program and Trinity Valley and was luckily able to play right away and contribute. He finished the season averaging 9.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, and that stat line there tells you a lot of what you need to know about his game. He’s an energy big, someone that uses his length to get touches on shots and dominate the glass. Most of his offense were put backs on offensive rebounds or cuts where he finished with dunks and his flashes of athleticism were notable. 

 

A place where he could definitely use some improvement is at the free throw line where he hit 42% of his attempts.

 

Gatkek is of course raw, but the Gators will see someone with great length and a decent motor. They have scholarships available, and without many proven players out on the market, whether transfer, high school, or JUCO, it makes sense to take a flyer on someone they think might have some high major potential. 

 

With Colin Castleton returning and CJ Felder coming from Boston College, the Gator won’t need Gatkek to contribute right away unless there was some kind of unfortunate injury situation. In fact, a redshirt year might be the likely option. He has plenty of weight to add to his 175 pound frame and there is plenty of development in on the court action as well.

 

Florida’s last JUCO big Osayi Osifo unfortunately didn’t work out, and certainly there are going to be some comparisons drawn between Osifo and Gatkek who are both high motor bigs. Gathek is probably even a bit more raw than Osifo, but he’s longer and appears to possibly have better instincts on the defensive end. Of course Osifo ended up being in a position where the Gators needed some minutes from him right away, which hopefully won’t be the case with Gatkek. In the case of Osifo, the Gators also took him over some fairly highly heralded high school recruits, one of which was certainly ready to commit to Florida, whereas Gathek is someone who is filling an open scholarship that likely wouldn’t be filled by an elite prospect.

 

In a season where Florida is bringing in all kinds of players from multiple avenues, Gatkek will be another interesting one to watch. 

 

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.