In the modern age of college basketball there is always going to be a lot of player movement in the transfer portal, and that’s almost always heightened the year after a coaching change–the situation the Gators are currently in. Ultimately the Gators had five players enter the transfer portal, and each one of them ended up at a new home.
Kowacie Reeves chose Georgia Tech–becoming the only outgoing Gator to stay at the high-major level. The former top-50 recruit never saw his game fully materialize in Gainesville, particularly when it came to his jumper, but as a 6’7” athlete there were still a handful of high-major programs ready to take him. Reeves chose Georgia Tech which gets him closer to his home of Macon, Georgia, but even more than the geographic fit was the pitch of new Georgia Tech head coach Damon Stoudemire. Stoudemire returns to the college game after spending a couple of years as an assistant in the NBA with the Boston Celtics–a team that has had success putting as many 6’7” wings on the floor as possible. He is planning on bringing that approach to Georgia Tech, and sold Reeves on the vision of a different role than he saw at Florida.
Trey Bonham will be transferring to Chattanooga where he reunites with head coach Dan Earl who was Bonham’s coach at VMI. The move makes a ton of sense for Bonham who is already familiar with Earl’s coaching style and scheme. Bonham has already had excellent success within Earl’s system, as well as success in the Southern Conference, so there is a lot of certainty to this move. While Bonham might be departing the high-major level right now, he may eventually make a return. He still has two years of eligibility remaining, and given that he has already used his one-time transfer to come to Florida, he’ll have to redshirt the 2023-24 season. After playing the 2024-25 season, he’d then have the opportunity to graduate transfer–and as a 6th year guard who will likely be coming off a successful season, watch for Bonham to bounce back to the high-majors.
Jason Jitoboh will be transferring to Tennessee State. This fit makes a lot of sense, as the archetype of a 6’11”, 300 pound center hasn’t been something you see a lot of at the high-major level recently, but can be dominant at lower levels. The Tigers will be graduating their starting center Adong Makuoi who just had success as a transfer and they’ll look to get starting production from Jitoboh. If Jitoboh is able to get his body to the point where he can stay healthy and play 25 minutes a game, he should be a rock solid center in the OVC.
CJ Felder will be transferring to McNeese State, a team in the Southland Conference. McNeese State just had a tough season finishing 335th in KenPom, though they are almost certainly in for a major turnaround. The Cowboys just controversially hired former LSU coach Will Wade who was fired by the Tigers for improper recruiting and inducement tactics. While recruiting issues may have plagued Wade, he is an accomplished coach who should be able to get things turned around quickly for McNeese State. Felder’s time at Florida was a disappointing one due to constant injuries that kept him from playing as the dynamic, physical defensive weapon he was at Boston College before becoming a Gator. If he gets to full strength, Felder could easily be an all-league player in the Southland.
Niels Lane was the last former Gator to make his decision, ultimately committing to Delaware. Hardly seeing the floor for the Gators in three seasons there wasn’t a lot of film on Lane for him to use to find schools, but he was able to settle on a Delaware team that is consistently competitive in the Colonial Athletic Association where he will be easily one of the best athletic talents in the league. He’ll look to expand his game from just being a defensive stopper to someone that can contribute offensively.
These five players departing will leave the Gators with no players left that were recruited by Mike White (outside of walk-ons Alex Klatsky and Jack May) and ushers in a bit of a new era. If you wanted to argue that Florida’s roster lacked talent last year, you could easily point to the fact that of five outgoing transfers, only one stayed at the high-major level. You could also point to some bad luck with injuries, pointing out that CJ Felder and Jason Jitoboh were never able to really get their footing due to injuries in some parts.
Whatever the case may be, the Gators are into a new era with a new crop of transfers and high school talent they hope can bring the team to a higher level.