After landing guard Brandon McKissic from UMKC in a transfer on Friday afternoon the Gators weren’t done as Boston College forward CJ Felder announced his commitment to Florida.
Felder was one of the first players that Florida reached out to in the transfer portal and their persistence from that point on landed them a proven high major contributor.
In 2020-21, the sophomore averaged 9.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. Perhaps his most impressive stat is blocking shots where he averaged 2.2 per game, a simply fantastic mark for an ACC player. At 6’7” and 230 pounds he has legitimate size for the power forward position, something the Gators have desperately lacked recently.
That size helps Felder as a wall in the paint when protecting the hoop and also as a defensive rebounder. His 19.8% defensive rebound rate would have easily been the best on the Gators (Tre Mann led with 16.8%) so he stands to really help Florida in an area of need. Defensive rebounding has been a major issue for the Gators in the Mike White era, and Felder gives them a gigantic boost in this area that can’t be overstated.
For a Florida team that relies on shot blocking in their defensive scheme that runs shooters off the line and makes them drivers, Felder will fit in just fine. His 8.1% block rate was good for 51st in the country, so you can pencil him in for a big rim protection role for the Gators. Even when he didn’t get his hand on the ball he had a defensive impact when contesting shots, only allowing 37.5% at the rim which is a remarkable number given the league average is over 52% for finishing at the rim.
While 230 pounds at 6’7” might sound like a lot, Felder carries it very well and is very light on his feet. This allows him to switch out to guards, something Florida will make him do, and he’ll handle it just fine. The versatility to bang with bigger players on the inside and then switch onto smaller guards on the outside made him a sought after piece and he stands to be an important player on the roster.
Offensively Felder is someone who plays with high energy and got a lot of buckets in transition by beating opponents down the floor and finishing with layups and dunks. The Gators want to increase their pace of play and to do so they need players who can play on the break and Felder is the exact forward you want for that style. He’s also comfortable handling the ball which allowed him to beat slower forwards off the bounce before getting to the hoop and using his athleticism to hang in the air and finish.
Felder has also been working on his three-point stroke with nearly four attempts per game, but that part of his repertoire is still under construction. He hit only 31.4% of his threes, just enough to make defenses aware of it, but not enough for him to be a total threat as a stretch player. He is on the young side just completely his second year so there is a chance his shooting gets to the next level as a junior.
There is a good case to pencil CJ Felder in as the starting power forward right now. He doesn’t have Anthony Duruji’s athleticism but he showed more ability to score, rebound, and block shots at the ACC level so he could very well be ahead of him on the depth chart right now. If nothing else, those two will be pushing each other for minutes. It’s also worth noting that in the ACC there are a number of teams like North Carolina, Florida State, and Louisville that all played jumbo frontcourts, so Felder’s production came against tough competition. Wherever he ends up playing in Florida’s rotation, CJ Felder is a great get for the Gators.