Throughout the transfer portal process Todd Golden and his staff have been looking to bolster their frontcourt depth and they may have gotten closer to accomplishing that as Washington State post player Efe Abogidi announced his final four schools and the Gators were one of them.
Alongside Florida is Arizona and Maryland while he also leaves open the possibility of returning to Washington State.
Abogidi had also entered his name into the NBA Draft to “test the waters” and see what the market might be for his services but predictably he is back to college for another season. There is some NBA intrigue for Abogidi down the line but right now it is clear he has some development to do before realizing his dreams at the highest level.
Standing at 6’10” and 225 pounds Abogidi has a great frame and is a bouncy, fluid athlete. At the moment, he is still finding his way from a skill standpoint and hasn’t quite yet become a hugely productive college player averaging 8.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in what was his second year of college. This makes him the exact type of target the Gators are looking for, someone who doesn’t yet command starting minutes at center (the position occupied by Colin Castleton who will likely start the season on player of the year watch lists) but could provide huge upside off the bench.
I say off the bench, but it’s quite possible that the Gators are pitching Abogidi on a role where he would play some next to Castleton. That was the pitch to Morehead State’s Johni Broome (who ultimately chose Auburn over the Gators) and Coach Golden has always liked playing big in the frontcourt, so he could see Abogidi as someone who could play next to Castleton.
While Abogidi’s raw numbers don’t jump off the page there are some advanced statistics that speak to his contributions.
Abogidi was 81st in the country in offensive rebound rate and 306th in the country in defensive rebound rate, just slightly down from his freshman season when he was 149th in the country in offensive rebound rate and 103rd in defensive rebound rate. He was also 34th in the country in block rate (Colin Castleton was 55th, for reference) which also speaks to his effectiveness in the front court. Golden has made it known that he wants, well, NEEDS to improve Florida’s rebounding from last year where they were 333rd in the country in defensive rebounding percentage, so trying to land a player like Abogidi makes some sense.
To further contextualize Abogidi’s game as a sophomore it should be noted that Washington State finished 44th in KenPom, just missing out on an NCAA Tournament berth which is no easy task for Cougars–a notorious basement team of the Pac-12. They ended up going to the NIT where they had three decisive wins over Santa Clara, SMU, and BYU before falling to a red-hot Texas A&M team.
Right now the Gators feel like they are in pretty good shape for landing Abogidi, though they are still up against some quality programs.
Right now a return to Washington State wouldn’t appear to be completely attractive as the Cougars have been gutted by the transfer portal and would enter the season projected to finish in the bottom tier of the Pac-12 even with Abogidi. However, obviously he would be comfortable playing there and he would be given a clear leading role and a ton of minutes, something he might like to showcase his abilities for the next time he enters the NBA Draft.
Much like Florida, Arizona already has frontcourt pieces in place and there wouldn’t be an unquestioned starting spot for Abogidi. Azuolis Tubelis, Christian Koloko, and Oumar Ballo are all quality post players that are returning and coach Tommy Lloyd also signed two very talented frontcourt players in Dylan Anderson and Will Menaugh. Arizona is projected to be very good once again and they have featured post players so there is good reason why Abogidi would have interest.
Maryland also has an established frontcourt with two excellent seniors in Donta Scott and Hakim Hart but both play a different style of basketball than Abogidi so if he were to go there he could complement them quite well and make a pretty solid trio to rotate through the two frontcourt positions. Maryland is in a rebuilding season and isn’t a projected NCAA Tournament team, but they’re expected to be in a better position than Washington State while also being able to promise Abogidi a decent role.
That’s what the Gators are up against so their pitch should be pretty competitive. At this point Abogidi may not be in too much of a rush to make his decision, but it’s a recruitment to keep your eye on as he becomes arguably the top player on Florida’s board in terms of the transfer portal.