For the majority of college basketball teams the season is over, with only about a quarter of programs lucky enough to play in a postseason tournament. That means that the deluge of transfers has begun and the portal is starting to fill with players looking for new homes.
This is a key time for a Florida basketball program that is coming off a disappointing season. There are positions where they need to improve their talent, both due to a deficiency this past season as well as accounting for the departures that are set to happen. The Gators will graduate players, they will have some transfer out, and they might even have a player turn pro, so there are plenty of roster spots they will be looking to fill.
Todd Golden and his staff have been open about how much they want to attack the transfer portal and we saw that already in his first offseason. With even more roster spots set to open this year, this will be the case once again.
Florida has already offered a number of players and I will be highlighting some of the key names that the Gators are aggressively pursuing. Today, we start with BJ Mack who enters the portal from Wofford after starting his career at South Florida. Prior to his time in college he played at the illustrious Oak Hill academy, so he is a talented player with pedigree. Mack just completed his fourth year of college basketball so he is a veteran who has played a lot of minutes and will look to the high major level for his final year of basketball.
A bruising center, Mack stands at 6’8” and 250 pounds. This past season Mack averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds, coming off a 2021-22 season where he averaged, wait for it–16 points and 6 rebounds. In both of these seasons he was the central offensive piece for the Terriers so he has played a lot of high value possessions where he has had to take big shots.
With his 250 pound frame, he definitely gets things done on the inside and is a very good finisher around the rim. There is brute force and physicality to his game, but he also shows great touch and finesse and is a highly efficient finisher around the rim. Wofford loves to run actions to get him catches near the rim and when he gets an angle–it is game over. However, Mack’s game isn’t just pure strength on the inside. Mack shot just under 5 threes a game last season and hit 34% of them–which is an efficient stroke on a lot of attempts for a center. Mack’s ability to punish teams on the inside or outside is what makes him a unique talent at the center position and if Florida was to land him he would give their offense an entirely different look. It’s easy to see why the Gators see him fitting in offensively, whether it’s getting the ball on the block to beat up on smaller defenders or have him run the offense from behind the three-point line.
One of the biggest deficiencies for the Gators this season was defensive rebounding and it’s an area they’ll need to address through the portal. Mack was a decent defensive rebounder (17.8% defensive rebound rate, about average for centers in the SoCon) but not a dominant one. Rebounding is something that has historically translated from leagues like the SoCon to the SEC so he’d probably bring solid rebounding to the Gators–and quite frankly, just average rebounding at the SEC level would be a huge upgrade for the Gators who were brutal in that area last year.
There is no timeline for Mack’s decision but the Gators have already had an in-home visit with him. Some other schools that have gotten involved are Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina, and Ole Miss–so it’s clear that SEC schools see him as a fit for this physical league.
Of course, there is a question you’ll have while reading this–will his production translate to the SEC?
The SoCon actually has a lot of big, physical centers with SEC size–so Mack was scoring in the post efficiently against guys who are close to SEC level physicality. While his interior scoring would likely dip somewhat, it probably wouldn’t be a major drop off. The shooting would likely translate as well, as the pick and pop threes he took at Wofford are the same kind of looks he could get in the SEC.
Looking at recent center transfers it’s likely that his solid rebounding at Wofford would turn into average rebounding at the SEC level which would be useful to the Gators, but wouldn’t completely move the needle for them.
The biggest issue for the translation of Mack to the SEC is on the defensive end. At 6’8” and 250 pounds Mack isn’t particularly mobile and he’s not someone you want getting switched onto the perimeter. He’s also not a rim protector, averaging 0.4 blocks per game this season. Mack is very comfortable guarding players one on one in the post, but he’s not a great pick and roll or help defender–something you really need from your centers at the SEC level.
With any transfer a high major team brings in from the mid major level there are going to be question marks and there are going to be things you get excited about. Mack is a player that has offensive upside and physicality that’s ready for the SEC level, but his defense is something that could be a concern.
It’s clear the Gators will reach out to a lot of centers, so keep an eye out for more offers at that position.