Gators In Top Three For ’22 Riley Kugel

Most of Todd Golden and his staff’s focus this offseason has been on the transfer portal but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to look at acquiring talent through traditional high school recruiting and Riley Kugel is a player they have been aggressively pursuing.

They’ll soon find out if their efforts will be successful as it was announced that Kugel, in the class of 2022, would be making his announcement Monday, May 23rd at 6:00 PM ET. 


The announcement will be made live on Instagram (tipton.edits & riley.kugel) should you choose to tune in and hear his decision the moment it happens. 


Kugel had originally committed to Mississippi State out of high school but decommitted when head coach Ben Howland was fired. Mississippi State’s lead recruiter for Kugel was assistant Korey McCray, who has since been hired at Florida by Todd Golden. That put the Gators in the driver’s seat for his recruitment the second time around and Florida now finds themselves in Kugel’s final three schools alongside LSU and Georgia. 


Another edge that Florida might have in Kugel’s favor is the fact that he’s from nearby Orlando where he attends Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips might sound familiar to you, and that’s because the Gators already have a commitment in the 2022 class from Dr. Phillips in combo guard Denzel Aberdeen. Given that Kugel is from nearby Orlando and is already familiar with Coach McCray and he could continue to play with his highschool teammate and friend , Florida certainly has some advantages in this recruitment. 


In the first round of Kugel’s recruitment before he committed to Mississippi State, Florida did have some interest and recruited him a bit, though they were never fully in the mix to land him. That means there could be some familiarity with Mike White, perhaps something that could work in Georgia’s favor. Georgia, in a rebuild, also likely has minutes available right away whereas if he went to Florida there would be stiff competition. LSU did not appear to recruit him, nor did current head coach Matt McMahon when he was at Murray State.


Kugel is a 6’5” shooting guard known for his ability to create offense and score. Recruiting services seem to vary when it comes to ranking him and he’s currently the 78th ranked player in the composite, and 247 Sports has him the highest ranked 48th. When he committed to Mississippi State at first he was considered a three-star but since then has continued to rise and is now considered a 4-star. No matter if he’s truly a top-50 player or a top-100 player, he would be a quality addition at this point in the cycle at a position of need for pretty much any team. Scoring guards with decent length are what wins in 2022 and Kugel looks like a player with all kinds of star potential when you see him shake a defender with a dribble or two before rising up to drill a three. He’s a bit thin right now, but most freshmen are and the fact that he isn’t completely physically mature while already being a high level scorer shows that his ceiling as a basketball player is extremely high. 


Landing Kugel would give the Gators a quality talent at a premium position that will have the chance to put up a lot of points in his college career. While he likely wouldn’t be relied upon to contribute much right away he has some explosive scoring ability and if he was able to make an impact right away the Gators would certainly find minutes for him.


Right now the buzz is that the Gators are in a really good position to land the in-state talent. That isn’t a recent development as the Gators have been considered to be in a good position ever since Kugel decommitted and Florida’s new staff got in touch. Keep an eye out for what could be really good news for the Gators Monday at 6:00 PM ET. 

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on 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 @Efawcett7.