The Florida Gators (5-3) have two freshmen forwards in Alex Condon and Thomas Haugh serving as critical rotational players early on in the 2023-24 season. Condon, an Australia native, is averaging 8.9 points on 50% from the floor and 36.4% from beyond the arc. The 6’11, 230-pound forward is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game to go along with one block per game. Haugh, a New Oxford, PA native, is averaging 4.4 points per game on 40.6% from the floor and 33.3% from three-point range. Haugh is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game and has tallied seven blocks and three steals through eight games.
Both Condon and Haugh have surprised Gator Nation with their impressive instincts and overall basketball skill.
“It was a big reason we wanted them to be here,” Head Coach Todd Golden said on Condon and Haugh’s passing ability. “Really talented athletes, really good skill and really high basketball IQ, which was an area last year that we were really below the bar, with guys having just a really good fundamental understanding. This year, everybody we brought in we really tried to target guys who had good feel and good understanding, regardless whether they were in the backcourt or frontcourt. I think both of those guys have a feel for the game.”
Condon and Haugh don’t look like freshmen, they don’t play like freshmen, and they don’t act like freshmen either. Both rookies have stated that they don’t care about their stats, they are here to win.
“Because they’re really good guys, you know, they’re here for the right reasons,” Golden said on the duo. “They’re passionate about being here and wanting to get this program back to where it belongs to be. And, you know, again, we brought in guys that hard similar mentalities that way, you know, guys that wanted to be part of a team that played in the Tournament and continued to raise the level of this program, and, you know, both of those guys are extremely talented, but also their make-up is part of what makes them so special.”
Haugh is known for his toughness and defensive prowess, which did not come as a surprise to the Gators’ staff.
“We knew he was really, really tough, really physical, and can mix it up with anybody,” Golden said on Haugh’s toughness. “And that, again, that’s one of those things that I think a lot of people, you know, they’re not evaluating that necessarily. But with him, we knew he was a guy being at the time 6-7, 6-8, weighing 200 pounds, 205, would be able to bang with some fours. And, you know, early on in the year, when Jarvis was a part of the program and Shimmy was healthy, we were playing Tommy at the three a little bit, you know, so that talks about his ability to play different spots. But I am pleased with how physical he’s been able to be in the frontcourt.”
Haugh was launched into the starting lineup in absence of starting center Micah Handlogten (ankle), where he recorded 6 and 11 rebounds in back-to-back games.
“Tommy’s a guy that we feel good about being out there being able to do what you’ve asked him to do, and he’s going to defend hard, he’s going to play within himself offensively,” Golden said on Haugh cracking the starting lineup.
One area Haugh needs to improve on is his free throw shooting, as the 6’9, 210-pound forward is just 6-16 (37.5%) from the charity stripe this season.
“I think the free throw thing will come around for him,” Golden said. “He’s a good, skilled player, and I think that’s just a little bit of the nerves for being out there for the first time a lot. But, again, just a guy that’s accountable and able to execute what we want him to do.”
Both Haugh and Condon rank in the top 8 in plus-minus on the Gators, with Haugh sitting in 6th (+35) and Condon in 8th (+21). Both freshmen will play a critical role moving forward and should only get better with more valuable experience.