The Gators basketball team suffered its fifth loss of the offseason on Tuesday morning when reports surfaced that sophomore forward Omar Payne had entered the transfer portal.
Payne joins guards Ques Glover and Noah Locke and forward Osayi Osifo in the transfer portal. Meanwhile, Tre Mann announced that he will enter the NBA Draft and hire an agent, which will mark the end of his college career. Center Colin Castleton announced that he will also enter the draft pool but not hire an agent, which makes his return to UF fairly likely.
At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Payne had the size and athleticism to be a force around the basket. However, the lack of a consistently high motor, undisciplined mistakes and a poor offensive repertoire kept that from happening.
He averaged just 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 2020-21. His best games of the season came back-to-back in mid-January. He scored nine points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked five shots in a blowout upset victory over Tennessee. He followed that up with 10 points and nine rebounds in a road win over Georgia. He then scored more than five points in a game only once in his final 12 games.
A former top-50 recruit, Payne experienced similar inconsistencies as a freshman in 2019-20. He scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds in a blowout upset win over Auburn but only averaged 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the season.
Unfortunately for Payne, he’ll be remembered most for his vicious Flagrant 2 foul against Tennessee’s John Fulkerson in the 2021 SEC Tournament. After a physical battle for a rebound, Payne elbowed Fulkerson in the head twice, resulting in facial injuries that required surgery for Fulkerson.
UF coach Mike White suspended Payne for the team’s first round NCAA Tournament game against Virginia Tech, although he returned to play 11 minutes in the second-round loss to Oral Roberts.
With Payne no longer in the fold, the Gators only have two players taller than 6-foot-7 on their roster for next season as of now, assuming Castleton returns. The frontcourt will likely be addressed through the transfer portal over the next few weeks.