After a lengthy recruitment that saw as many ups and downs as any pursuit we’ve ever seen the Gators have emerged on top and landed the services of Kerry Blackshear, the most sought-after graduate transfer in the country.
Tracking Blackshear’s recruitment was a rollercoaster as he pondered Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas A&M, and staying at Virginia Tech where he used his first three years of eligibility. Every program seemed to believe they were favorites at one point or another which made Florida’s chances seem slim but ultimately it was the Gators’ pitch that was the most enticing.
A product of Orlando, Blackshear’s skilled game on the low block made him one of the best centers in the game as we head towards the 2019-20 season. At 6’11” he has excellent size and his ability to score down low when single covered, one of the most rare skills in today’s game, made him a major commodity. Also a productive rebounder and capable defender, his well-rounded game is set to change the trajectory of Florida’s season.
With Blackshear the Gators now have serious expectations. They’ve got arguably the best center in college basketball and they’re surrounding him with an elite point guard in Andrew Nembhard, knockdown shooters in Noah Locke and Tre Mann, a super athlete in Keyontae Johnson, and future NBA lottery pick Scottie Lewis. They’ve got all the piece of a team in the mix for a Final Four and I’m sure that’s where internal expectations will be placed within the program.
There were a few factors that ultimately made Blackshear decide Gainesville was the best place to be. First of all, it’s near his family in Orlando which certainly helped the Gators’ cause. Additionally, the basketball fit was perfect. He’ll be joined in the frontcourt by Keyontae Johnson whose athleticism will perfectly play off the skilled game of Blackshear. Andrew Nembhard, one of the best passers in college basketball, will be threading dimes into Blackshear on the inside and if defenses try to load up on him down low he’ll have elite shooters like Noah Locke and Tre Mann to kick the ball out to. He’ll also be playing next to one-and-done lottery talent Scottie Lewis for his single season in Gainesville.
One of the focuses for Blackshear this season will be to get himself into a position where he’ll be selected in the NBA Draft. He put his name into the draft this year but didn’t get the response he was hoping for, ultimately leading to his return to college basketball. Being featured at Florida should give him the opportunity to showcase him game and hopefully that will help get him to where he wants to go. Having success and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament was also reported to be one of his priorities and now that he’s on the roster the Gators should have the chance to do that.
Blackshear is now the third Virginia Tech-to-Florida transfer in recent history following Jalen Hudson and Dorian Finney-Smith. The connection has worked favorably for the Gators in the past with solid contributions from the first two and Blackshear is set up to be perhaps the most productive of the group.
Blackshear will now arrive in Gainesville just in time for the Summer B portion of the offseason and will start working with his new teammates. This is a great day for Florida basketball and national outlets will start to see the Gators as a threat entering the season.