With it being the Holiday Season I thought I would write up a wish list of all the gifts I would like to see under the tree for each Gator. Here is what I hope Santa has in store and don’t worry, I’m not wishing a lump of coal on anyone!
Gift: More Minutes
This is a bit of a challenging statement that I hope he gets more minutes because there aren’t a ton of guys that warrant having their work load cut but when Okauru is on the floor I think good things have happened and he deserves a bit more leash, particularly when games are close and aren’t in garbage time. It might be tough for him to get more minutes at this point with conference season right around the corner, but I hope it happens.
Gift: Renewed Passion For Basketball
Now, I can’t say this for a fact, but I’d have to think the concussion problems are wearing Johnson out. Never knowing exactly when he’ll be back and facing all the mysteries of head trauma sucks and I hope he stays positive and keeps a love for the game. He is going through one of the worst problems an athlete can have and I hope he stays strong and gets through it.
Nembhard is leading the Gators in minutes and has been a complete workhorse and I hope this Christmas season he’s able to kick back and relax before some more tough basketball games. He was sporting a wrapped up left hand against Florida Gulf Coast and it didn’t seem to affect his play but hopefully a break will help with whatever the problem is.
Gift: An NBA Jersey
Some people might scoff at the idea of Jalen Hudson being an NBA player after his performance so far this season but at this point last year it seemed like he could be an NBA regular. I’m not sure what happened in the offseason to change how he’s played but I think with some time off he can think about his dreams and hopefully be refocused and remember the things he needs to do if he’s going to play basketball at the highest level. I hope he gets an NBA jersey from his favorite team and it can motivate him to be the best version of himself which won’t just help him, but the Gators too.
Gift: A New Layup Package
Allen’s offensive game is coming back to what we’d expect from him but his biggest problem remains the same—he’s just not great at finishing at the rim. Considering his powerful frame and leaping ability he should be better there and I think he needs some new finishing moves to unlock the full potential of his game. Hopefully Santa comes and shows him a few new ways to finish at the rack.
Gift: Oven Mitts
With all the threes the kid has been hitting, his hands have got to be too hot to handle.
Gift: An Airplane Pillow
The man absolutely flies when he’s going up for a dunk and a rebound and with the amount of time he’s spending in the air with that 41” vertical he should at least be comfortable. He plays the game hard and could use a nap from time to time, so why not while he’s flying towards to hoop for a slam?
Gift: More Vacation Days
There was talk he’d be back for opening night of the season against Florida State, there was talk he’d be back after the trip to the Bahamas, and now there is talk he’ll be back for conference season but really, I think Gak just needs a redshirt year. His first two years of college basketball have been chasing injuries and I think he just needs a full redshirt year to hopefully get fully healthy for the first time in multiple seasons. If he comes back too early, like he has done multiple times his career, the problems are going to keep persisting. So, Gorjok, I hope you get to kick back and recover fully.
Gift: A Few Game Balls
Despite playing improved basketball this season Kevarrius Hayes still has a lot of doubters and I think they have taken away from the fact that I truly think Hayes has been the most valuable Gator is a few games with the way he has impacted the defensive side of the floor. Some teams give the game ball to the most outstanding player and I think Hayes deserves a few of them even though he never has the best stat line or point total. He has been playing winning basketball and I hope he knows his effort is being appreciated.
Gift: New Jordans
Isaiah Stokes would benefit so much from just a bit more foot speed and who knows, maybe a fresh pair of kicks would give him a bit more pep. He’s been just a little bit slow on a few post ups this year that have allowed help to come and he’s always just a bit behind on defense resulting in a lot of fouls and if he were just a bit quicker his game would be even better. Will new shoes help? Well…maybe not. But what basketball player doesn’t love new shoes?
Gift: A Punching Bag
Bassett’s physicality has resulted in a lot of fouls that have kept him off the floor and his love of contact has also resulted in a few injuries for him. Let me be clear, I love that the Gators have a grinder and I love the emotion he brings but I think he needs to dial it down, just a hair. If he had a punching bag to let out a few jabs before each game to let out a bit of aggression I think he’d be the perfect level of intensity!
Gift: A New TV
After a hot start to the season Ballard’s game has tailed off a bit and I think he needs to watch some film of what he was doing earlier in the season to help get his mojo back. Earlier in the year he was excellent at catching the basketball on the wing and attacking closeouts but more recently he has gotten back to taking the bad jump shots that plagued him last season. A new TV to watch film of the good parts of his game he needs to get back to should do just nicely.
Gift: NBA League Pass
Keith Stone is a jack-of-all trades and a master of none. He possesses a lot of really good skills but hasn’t been able to key in on one that makes him elite in a particular role. I’d love for him to get NBA League Pass (the NBA subscription service) that allows him to see some high-level role players that might inspire him to carve out a more particular skillset. Maybe Draymond Green’s passing? Or Patrick Patterson’s defense at the four spot? Maybe Marcus Morris’ ability to attack from the high post. I’d love to see him watch a few NBA power forwards to help him find a more defined play style.
Gift: A Contract Extension
Okay, I had to say something a bit controversial here. I know Mike White isn’t perfect but he has my full support and I hope he is at Florida for a long, long time. I hope he gets locked up for a lot more years this holiday season.