Gator Country May Basketball Q&A Part Three

Now that the transfer portal has settled and we’re well into the offseason it’s time for another Gator Country members Q&A series!

As is always the case, I’ll be taking questions from Gator Country members on the Full Court Press basketball board. If people continue to ask questions these articles will continue, so it’s not too late to ask a question if you’re a member or join Gator Country today to submit a question.


If you haven’t yet read part two, you can do so here

Here’s part three:


OklahomaGator: It’s never too early to look ahead, so who are we recruiting for the next class?


You can see with Florida’s recruiting strategy that they’re only going after big names, particularly early. That means that Florida’s current board is loaded with five-star names and while I’d love to suggest the Gators will land all of them, that’s probably not the case, but here are some names you should be aware of.

Cameron and Cayden Boozer are the 2nd and 16th ranked players in the class of 2025 and the Gators are thought to have a good shot here. Both are playing high school ball in Miami and Florida’s staff has been able to be present and attend a lot of events, and grabbing one of those guys would be a huge splash. Obviously given that they are brothers a package deal will certainly be the discussion, but even with brothers package deals seldom work out and the Gators could be lucky to get just one of them. Cameron, the higher rated of the two, is a physically dominant power forward while Cayden is an electric lead guard, both of whom would be able to help Florida. With their father Carlos being a Duke alum, that could be the school to watch for. 


Other names to be aware of are point guard Mikel Brown, shooting guard Ricardo Greer, and center Malachi Moreno. With the changing face of roster building in college basketball, high school players are getting recruited and making decisions later than ever, so most of the top 2025 players are still on the board. 


ThePlayer: ESPN has a top transfer list that goes hundreds of players deep, yet Sam Alexis is nowhere on that extensive list…any ideas why?


Honestly, most lists ranking players in the portal simply are not very good and there are a few reasons for that. First of all, if the list is assembled by a person or group of people there is a very low chance that they can be familiar with the hundreds of relevant players that are in the portal. Many of the top, let’s say, 200 players in the transfer portal are mid-major and low-major names that many analysts had never heard of prior to entering the portal–much less watched. Then, trying to contextualize high-major players that didn’t play much or low-major players that played a ton with everything in between is an impossible task. A lot of the analysts that do these lists are intelligent people that do excellent work, but there is no possible way they are familiar enough with all the necessary players to put together a solid list.


Next, you’ve got the rankings that are generated by analytic tools based exclusively off numbers. Oftentimes these lists look better to me than the ones put together by humans, and the algorithms can do some of the accounting of level or quality of competition that humans struggle with. However, there are two things I think these systems miss on and both relate to Sam Alexis.

First of all, as much as there has been huge advancements in analytics when it comes to evaluating players, there still is not a good way to gauge a player’s impact on the defensive end (at least at the college level–there is extremely advanced player tracking technology at the NBA level that I do believe can accurately assess a player’s defense). Alexis is a player that is far better on the defensive side of the ball than the offensive side, and that isn’t going to get captured by an analytic tool.

Secondly, I don’t think these systems account enough for the eligibility a player has remaining. There are players that I think are better than Sam Alexis but they only have one year of eligibility remaining, and if you asked me who I’d rather have in the portal this year it would be Alexis due to the multiple years of production he could bring.

I hope that if you’ve been reading my work at Gator Country for years you’ll know that I am far from a Florida “homer” and I don’t see everything through orange and blue colored glasses, and additionally I am someone who prides myself in a deep knowledge of the sport far beyond the Gators, or the SEC, or the high-major level. While I can’t claim to be incredibly familiar with every single player listed ahead of Alexis on the transfer portal ranking that was referenced in the question, I can say with confidence that he is much better than most players on the list and I do think it’s laughable that he isn’t on it. However, I can understand with these systems of evaluating players in the portal there are going to be players that fall through the cracks.

Alexis is a player that you should be excited about, even if you see him ranked low on transfer rankings or if he’s not even on the list. 


Juggernautz: Given the state of the program as of today, what are the strengths and weaknesses of our team? Do we make the tournament in your honest opinion?

I touched on this in part one, but the strength of the 2024-25 team is going to be the defense. Every player the Gators brought in through the portal is a defense-first player, and you can tell that Todd Golden is trying to get back to a defensive style that he is much more comfortable coaching. 


In terms of weakness, I am concerned about the offense. Florida was able to put up points last season with their ability to play fast and then get offensive rebounds that they could convert into points, but their halfcourt execution was lackluster and a lot of the underlying numbers as well as the eye test suggested a team that wasn’t great offensively. With Zyon Pullin and Tyrese Samuel graduating the Gators lost a lot of offensive production and these were two of their three best offensive players. Alijah Martin will bring some scoring ability but not to the same level as Pullin, and Sam Alexis And Rueben Chinyelu are unlikely to match Samuel’s scoring ability. This offseason needs to be a reset for Florida’s coaching staff from a schematic standpoint as they try to find a way to help this team score. 


I do think this is an NCAA Tournament team, and it needs to be. Trying to make predictions in May is a good way to say something stupid so I’ll stop short of saying what seed I think the Gators will be, but I expect them to be favored in their first game, and probably not favored in the second game should they win. That’s somewhat vague while also still giving a pretty clear range, so hopefully that satisfies anyone looking for a prediction!

It’s a new era of college basketball and rebuilds shouldn’t take multiple years, and missing the tournament in year three of the Golden era would be rather disastrous in my opinion. Florida has all the resources they need to have an elite team that should be pushing for second weekends in the NCAA Tournament regularly, so missing it entirely this year would be extremely disappointing. Luckily, I think this is a team that will get there–but whether or not they can do damage will be a story for later.


That’s all folks, thank you for the questions!

Eric Fawcett
Eric is a basketball coach and writer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His work has been found at NBA international properties, 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 @ericfawcett_.