PODCAST: Breaking down Scottie Lewis decision to return, plus updating Gators sports

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we break down Scottie Lewis’ decision to return to the Florida Gators basketball team.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by Eric Fawcett to talk about why he think Lewis returned to Florida, plus what it means to the basketball team.

Andrew and Nick also talk recruiting and other Florida Gators sports that are on hold due to the cornavirus.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re on like a month of quarantine here. Are you holding up? Are you killing yourself yet? What’s the deal over there?

Nick:                         There’s like a little park by my house. I try to go and get a workout and get some fresh air and some sun when I can and playing video games like I’m back in college. There’s only so much to do. Just kind of got to ride it out.

Andrew:                 I’ve played more video games in the last three weeks than I’ve probably played in the last 10 years, just being honest.

Nick:                         I know you’re playing, MLB 2K came out, or The Show came out, and I’m like, great time. Great time to be stuck inside.

Andrew:                 Beat Call of Duty, and now I’m playing The Show and rising through the ranks. Whatever. I might take watching some gymnastics or tennis or anything right now. Shoot, I’d even watch soccer, and I hate soccer. Just give me some live sporting events.

Nick:                         We’ll get into it, because Dana White is a gangster.

Andrew:                 Oh yeah.

Nick:                         He is buying a private island, and he is putting on fights. I don’t know if it’s healthy. I don’t know if maybe, I’m probably being shortsighted. I just want to see some fight. I just want to see something normal, and if Dana White’s going to buy a private island, and he’s got adults who are going to go and get tested and go fight on Dana White’s private island, so we can have UFC Pay-per-views, go for it, bro.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I see Vince McMahon’s still doing his thing. I see that rolling through Twitter all the time.

Nick:                         That’s when you know I’ve gone crazy.

Andrew:                 Yes.

Nick:                         I’ve lost it if I start tuning in. Not against anything to anyone if you like WWE, and you like professional wrestling, good for you. Not my cup of tea. If I start watching and tweeting and putting stuff on the message boards about the WWE, that’s when you know I’ve lost it. Have somebody come check on me.

Andrew:                 I’ll only watch WWE if Ronda Rousey’s wrestling. That is it. I’m just a Ronda Rousey fan. Besides that, could care less about it. Yes. See that rolling through Twitter and people tweeting about that.

There is a little bit of Gator news though, and that’s what we come to talk about today. Scottie Lewis surprised a lot of people on Monday when he announced he’s returning to school. A decision that I think, and we’re going to get into this more with Eric here, but a decision that I think was unexpected by many. We’ll see what it causes as far as scholarships, if it causes any problems. Wanted to talk to Eric about this, and we’re going to bring him on and ask him did the Coronavirus kind of push him to come back? This surprised me. It wasn’t because Scottie Lewis was a first-round pick. A lot of people had him late second, but the notion was Scottie Lewis was all but gone. He’s an older freshman. He was all but gone and had no intentions of coming back.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think what’s going on right now and the state of the world. The NFL Draft is going to be …

Andrew:                 Live from Roger Goodell’s home.

Nick:                         Yeah. The NFL Draft’s going to be not virtual but remote. Everyone’s at their own homes, stuff like that. We still don’t know how many rounds the MLB Draft is going to be. Obviously, you wouldn’t have been able to go and do private workouts and interviews and that kind of stuff.

Andrew:                 Do the Combine or any of the stuff.

Nick:                         Scottie would have been great with that kind of stuff, so maybe that had some play into his decision. I think Eric’s our guy to talk to about this, and we’ll talk to him about Andrew Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson as well.

Andrew:                 There’s a lot of questions. Like you said, Scottie Lewis would have blew the Combine up. He’s a physical specimen. Let’s just do that then. Let’s get Eric on here. We’ll talk to Eric, and then you and I will come back, and we’ll talk some rest of Gator sports, talk some MLB. Looks like MLB may be one of the first major sports to get back. So, let’s go to Eric, talk to Eric about some basketball, some hoops, and we’ll come back.

Guys, we’re back. We’re back with our man, Eric. First of all, Eric, how’s Canada holding up? Are you guys ready to collapse too? Are you bored yet?

Eric:                          Definitely very bored. Can confirm. In terms of the country about to collapse, it’s holding on like the rest of us, but we’ll see, I guess, over the next course of weeks or months. I’m just so happy to be talking sports. This is just in a time where we’re all bored, and I’m sitting at home still kind of breaking down stuff from last year, looking forward to next year. It’s just all I want to do is talk sports right now, so very happy to be on with you guys.

Andrew:                 Nick and I will kill for baseball, pretty much. What’s the one thing you want? NBA?

Nick:                         Tim Horton’s coffee and a bagel.

Eric:                          There you go. I would have killed for an NCAA Tournament for basketball. Just not having those, especially that first weekend where normally from Thursday till Sunday I’m just posted up from 10:00 A.M. till 11:00 P.M. just watching games all day. To miss out on those were pretty big. I know that ship has already sailed, but that would have been something I would have killed for. The next thing would definitely be probably just the rush of NBA playoffs and that kind of appointment television. We’ll see if something can happen there. We’re getting desperate.

Andrew:                 Cornhole was boring on Sunday. Let me just tell you. I tried to watch it. I love playing cornhole, but after a few minutes I was like, this is so boring.

Nick:                         Those guys are incredible. Those guys are incredible. I will watch cornhole.

Andrew:                 Yes. They’re good. They’re better than you and I, Nick, and you and I were pretty good. Here we go. Let’s talk for a second, Eric. The big news Monday, and not to call you out, but you were surprised by it as well, Scottie Lewis is coming back to school. Do you have any insights to what went into that decision? I guess, ultimately, was it the Coronavirus, not having the NCAA Tournament, not having the NBA Combine? Was that ultimately what pushed him there? What pushed him back?

Eric:                          I appreciate you calling me out as surprised. It would have been accurate to say that I was wrong, because I did think he was going. I thought he was going to leave. I said as much and wrote as much, so I was a little bit surprised. I was also surprised by the timing. I would have expected him to do what a lot of players in similar positions, and that’s declare for the NBA Draft, go through feedback, and then if you did want to come back to Florida then make the announcement then. That would have been in a month or two. So, for him to make the decision now and already say that he’s coming back to Florida, I’m definitely surprised by that, but it’s also really cool, because it shows that he is definitely dedicated to Florida and coming back for a season. It would have been very easy for him to go through the process then right at the end, right before the deadline, say, Gainesville, I’m coming back. It would be cool then, but for him to announce it now, it’s something to be excited about.

I definitely think the Corona situation played a huge role, just because if you were to look at just the film of Scottie Lewis, there’s going to be a lot of holes for teams to kind of pick through and maybe not feel particularly inspired by in terms of wanting to draft him. But we know that Lewis is just a tremendous personality, he would have done so well in those interviews face to face. Those are now going to happen over Zoom or Skype, which I’m sure he’d still do pretty well, but he’s also someone that would have probably really benefited from the individual workouts where teams could see his athleticism, and if they had questions about a particular aspect of his game, he could go and show them on the court.

The NBA just came out the other day saying that teams are not going to be allowed to watch any workouts. They’re not allowed to have a player set up his phone or his laptop in an empty gym and go through drills. They just said, hey, we don’t want players going to gyms to try to do some kind of workout for teams over Zoom or anything, so they just said kind of sweeping, players are not allowed to do any workouts or send film of workouts to teams. So, the sample size is just what they did in college last year.

For Lewis, there’s some good moments, but there’s also a lot of moments that maybe weren’t so good. I think the fact that he wouldn’t be able to have those face to face interviews or go to the Combine to show his athleticism, just everything related to that. Like one thing I thought was really interesting, he did a piece with Jeff Goodman at Stadium kind of breaking down his decision, and he referenced a couple times to coming back to Florida being the safe decision, just not really knowing what the NBA Draft is going to look like. We don’t even know what the NBA Draft is going to look like this year, because to have an NBA Draft you need a Draft lottery. To have a Draft lottery, you need the season to end, so you know what the standings are, and they’re not ready to call the season yet. So, who even knows what the Draft is going to look like?

He kind of just mentioned that coming back to Florida to try to improve his stock was the safe decision, and I thought that that was really interesting wording, but it shows that he’s someone who also wants to bet on himself, because I think if he went to the Draft this year there’d be a team that would use a second-round pick on him, but that’s not guaranteed money. That’s not guaranteed term. That’s only for first-round picks. For example, even the really good kind of second-round picks this year are making $1.1 or $2 million for one season, kind of non-guaranteed. If he even gets into the first round, that’s going to be three years at over $2 million per where he’ll be drafted.

So, there’s a chance for him to just make a lot of money, a lot more money, on a rookie deal by improving his stock. The difference between him getting drafted 43rd and 27th is huge in the NBA when it comes to getting guaranteed money. He’s someone who’s always kind of wanted to bet on himself, and I would say this is another step with him really kind of betting on his own abilities.

Andrew:                 Let me say this. That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, not allowing teams to watch workouts.

Eric:                          I can kind of get what they’re going behind. They just don’t want players leaving to go find a gym.

Andrew:                 They’re playing in the gym no matter what. Let’s just be honest. Trey Young was at a gym practicing dribbling against his dog. Basketball players are playing basketball. You see Joey Gallow in baseball hitting in his apartment. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard. That’s just stupid. Sorry.

Eric:                          I mean, that is pros versus college kids who are back home in wherever they’re from.

Andrew:                 Do we really think Scottie Lewis is chilling in his house, or do we think Scottie Lewis is finding a place to hoop?

Eric:                          I think the optics for the NBA of saying the teams are allowed to tell a player, like you’re expected to go to a gym.

Andrew:                 Right.

Eric:                          You know, I can see them taking the safe choice, but it also throws a massive wrench. I mean, who knows if a player’s agent is going to have film like that, and he’s going to pass it on to teams. Maybe not in the official way that the NBA would like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that still happens.

Andrew:                 Nick, take over.

Nick:                         I mean, Scottie’s very intelligent, very calculated. What are the odds that maybe he was just told, do you enjoy college, or would you like to be a G League player next year? I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but like you said, if you enjoy being a college student, and you enjoy Gainesville and this coaching staff, you have the opportunity to, like you said, be a first-round guy by improving your game and getting that guaranteed contract and guaranteed money and the security that comes along with that. Versus a second-round guy that’s like not fitting in into the rotation, we’re going to send you down to the G League so you can get minutes, because you’re not going to get them here.

Eric:                          That’s a great point. You kind of mentioned, Scottie Lewis, wherever he was going to play next year, now it’s going to be Florida, it was going to be a development year for him. So, if he were to get drafted, he would have been, like you said, in the G League, almost certainly. That’s no chartered flights. That’s long bus trips, everything like that that you know that comes with the grind.

Nick:                         You’re traveling better at a school with the resources of Florida than you are in the G League.

Eric:                          Absolutely. No question. Your facilities are going to be much, much better at Florida. Just your lifestyle as a student at the University of Florida is going to be better than in a G League. The thing is you know he’s going to go through a development year regardless, so if he’s going to be better in 2021 than he is now, and you do it in the G League, your money is not going to be reflected in 2021, whereas if he stays at Florida, like he’s doing, and he does make a big improvement, and that helps his Draft standing, gets him the first round, that has huge financial implications. So, he has the chance to, from all accounts he loves school, so he’s going to have a fun year. He’s going to live comfortably at Florida, and he’s going to have the opportunity to exponentially make is payday a lot bigger. There’s definitely a lot of reasons why it makes sense.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this too. Maybe it’s a little too early. We’re going to talk here in a second about Keyontae and Andrew Nembhard’s decision, but is it an opportunity to come back and say this is a team that underperformed, we’re pretty good. We have a chance to be good next year. Is it that?

Let me ask you this too. In your knowledge that’s very, very good about this team, what’s the relationship like with a guy like Scottie Lewis and Mike White? I mean, obviously, it must be pretty good, but Scottie Lewis has kind of been on the taking in of some gut-check calls where is this team tough enough. Mike White calling him out a little bit. How is that relationship there? Do you think that that maybe played a part in it of I come back, and this team’s going to be pretty good?

Eric:                          Nick mentioned just before Scottie Lewis’ maturity, and it’s something that he had talked about on multiple occasions throughout the year. Well, from about halfway in the year going forward was how at the start of the season he wasn’t the most coachable, and he thought he knew how he should play and how things worked and how basketball worked, and he wasn’t coachable. He said that he went through a total change where he started to really trust the coaching staff. I think that that’s, obviously, for a freshman to say is just maturity beyond his years, but shows he was definitely in a better place at the end of the season than at the beginning of the season.

Something you mentioned just about thinking that Florida’s going to be a better team this year and have the opportunity to win, something about Lewis is he’s not someone who’s numbers are ever going to jump off the page at you. He doesn’t have great offensive skill. He’s not going to wow you with dribble moves and pull up jump shots. When he was coming to Florida, the book on him was like, this is a winner. This is someone who will do whatever it takes to win, and he’s someone that that kind of competitiveness is going to be so much important than what you see in his stats or anything like that. But he comes to Florida, a team that everyone kind of agreed had a lot of talent, and they didn’t win. I don’t think anyone’s putting that on Scottie Lewis’ shoulders, but he was a part of the narrative that Florida was a very talented team that didn’t win.

So, I do think that that probably hurts perception of him, because there’s a lot of scouts that I talked to before this year that were just like, the kid’s a winner. Wherever he goes, he wins, because he has that mindset. Well, Florida didn’t win. I’m really not saying that was his fault or should be put on his shoulders, but for a player like him that is kind of projecting to be like a high level NBA role-player, you want those guys with that kind of dogged competitiveness and someone who’s just a winner who is not always going to show up in the stats sheet. But you’d like to see that happen in college where the team that Scottie Lewis is a part of wins.

Nick:                         What does it mean for Florida and for Mike White to get him back? I agree with you about the offensive game. I mean, I think probably 20 games into the season, 15 games into the season, I might have texted you during a game being like he just does not have the offensive skillset right now to leave. But career high against Kentucky in the final game, and you could see that competitive nature that you talked about, being a winner. How much does this help Florida going into next year? Do you see that progression, that offensive progression, to continue for him?

Andrew:                 Before you get into that, Eric, real quick. I guess me and Nick were on opposite sides, because middle of the year I was texting you, and I was like Scottie Lewis’ jump shot has come so far. Nick and I must have been on opposite ends of texting you.

Eric:                          The thing is Lewis in the last, and Jake Winderman, who’s a former guy who used to write about Florida, he works for the G League now, he pointed out that in the last 12 games he was shooting like 48% from three, so obviously that’s a great percentage. But for most of the season he was shooting in the low 20s. He definitely did improve the jump shot, but I do think that mechanically it’s still a little bit loose. I’m not really sure what I would project his jump shot to be. I would say he’s probably going to be an average to maybe a little bit above average shooter.

You mentioned something interesting, Nick, about his career high. When he had that career high game in points, he scored in two ways. He grabbed the ball and attacked in a straight line, and he had catch and shoot jump shots. So, it’s simple plays that didn’t require a lot of playmaking from him. I’m not saying that to be rude. I just think that’s what he needs to be able to do, but at a very high level. He doesn’t need to be someone who breaks guys down off the dribble. He doesn’t need to be someone who uses ball screens and makes reads. He just needs to be someone who knows when he can attack in a straight line and beat someone with his speed. He needs to be able to hit the open jump shot, and we saw stretches of that at the end of the season.

I’m not someone who thinks he’s going to make a huge kind of step. Again, I don’t think he’s going to really develop his ball handling so much in this kind of offseason to be able to, again, use ball screens and be a distributor that way. I don’t know if I see him being in these kind of primary playmaking roles, but he can just continue to get better in just playing a simple kind of straight ahead game. That’s a lot of like what Keyontae Johnson does that’s so effective is he drives in straight lines. He hits jump shots. He plays in transition. He rebounds. That’s kind of like Keyontae Johnson plays a very simple game, but it’s super effective, and that’s what Lewis needs to do.

In terms of what it means for Florida, if he were to leave at the kind of wing spot, the small forward spot, Florida was going to be relying on freshmen, which is something that they’ve had to do a lot these last couple years, and it’s kind of had mixed results. I really like Samson Ruzhentsev, the 6’7” wing that’s coming in. Niels Lane is another wing they’re bringing in, and those are two good recruits, but you’d be banking on them to take all the minutes at the small forward spot.

Now instead you’re bringing back Scottie Lewis, who we know can be a good SEC player to a very good SEC player. It goes from being a situation where Florida was going to be relying on freshmen at the wing to saying you can actually have these freshmen play behind someone who’s returning and not be relied on for potentially too big of a role in their first season. So, for that reason, I think for Florida, who’s just been so young for the last couple of years. I know Scottie Lewis is just going to be a sophomore, but, again, for once it’s looking like Florida’s freshmen are going to be all coming off the bench and taking kind of a more prototypical role for where they’re at, versus being relied on a lot.

Andrew:                 Let’s go to Keyontae and Nembhard. What’s your thoughts on those guys? Are you leaning towards them coming back? Give me your take on that.

Eric:                          I mean, I do have to start by saying that I thought that Scottie Lewis was going to leave, so maybe I’ll be wrong again.

Nick:                         Throw the ball. Keep shooting, Eric. Shoot or shoot.

Eric:                          Yeah. I think that Keyontae Johnson is going to leave, honestly. I just think that looking at the sample size. You know, I was mentioning that for Lewis, because teams can only really look at his college film, you can’t go to workouts and go through that process, just looking at his college film I think that there’s holes there for Lewis. I think for Johnson there’s just so much there and so much translatable skill to the NBA game that I don’t think that it hurts him as much to not be able to have the kind of Combine and the individual workout kind of scene.

Again, the other thing to think about is a lot of players that you would have thought were nearly surely going to be in the Draft, such as Scottie Lewis, there’s a lot of those guys around the country who have already said that they’re not going to the Draft, or you’re probably going to guess that more of those players are going to go that route and say, I’m not going to the Draft. That just means the talent pool is going to be less, which means a guy like Keyontae Johnson could be shooting up the Draft boards, just by other guys kind of leaving. So, I do think that. I’m going to say that Keyontae Johnson is leaving, and if he comes back, I’ll be very happy. I’ll be happy to be wrong.

For Nembhard, he’s someone who I just think desperately would have needed those individual workouts with teams to really just kind of show the nuance of his game, because there’s so much subtlety, so much nuance to the way that Nembhard plays. While you’re going to see that in film a little bit, obviously, well, you’ll see a lot when you watch his minutes at Florida, but he’s someone who I think needed those kind of face to face workouts where he’s there with five other point guards, because that’s a lot of times how these workouts go. There’s position groups where a scout can see he made this read a lot better than these five other guards, or he made this pass a lot crisper than these five other guards, and that’s where he’d differentiate himself.

So, right now I’d call Andrew Nembhard returning, and I would call Keyontae Johnson leaving. That would be my guess.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this, Eric. I’m a very big fan of Keyontae Johnson, probably a bigger fan than a lot of people would expect. I just think Keyontae Johnson’s is one of those guys, like he’s the dog on the team. If you want a big play, get the ball to Keyontae. That’s just my take. Let me ask you this. Is it maybe more of Keyontae’s ceiling is a little less than Scottie Lewis’ ceiling? I don’t want this to come off the wrong way, because everyone things that they’re a first-round pick, and everyone thinks they’re a #1 pick. Coming into the year, nobody thought Keyontae Johnson was a Draft pick this year, but he rose so high that he is. So, does that maybe tell Keyontae go ahead and capitalize on it more so than Scottie Lewis thought he was a first-round pick, and everyone predicted Scottie Lewis to be a first-round pick?

Eric:                          Yeah. I would agree with that. I think that, while Lewis was saying that coming back to Florida was a safe pick, or the safe choice for him, I think for Johnson going to the NBA this year might be the safe pick for him, just because he just had a really good season. He shot the ball really well. He had great efficiency. He defended well. He just had a really rock solid season in a lot of ways. For him to come back and presumably better his stock he would have to, like I was talking with Lewis, having to become more of a pick and roll ballhandler or something like that. That would be what Johnson would need to really show teams anything more in his arsenal. He would have to add something totally new, which is something he potentially could do, but I’m just not sure he has much more places to go.

The other thing too is this was already a really weak Draft year. This Draft class was going to be quite weak, and I think that that was kind of one of the reasons why I definitely thought before the season that Lewis was going to go. But next year is definitely stronger, so I think if you’re really looking at it intelligently, if you’re someone in Keyontae Johnson’s camp, you’ve also got to look this year is already a weak Draft class with a bunch of players pulling out due to weirdness around the virus, and next year is just already looking to be a stronger Draft class, which means it’s obviously going to be tougher to get picked high. I think that there’s a few things like that that just point towards the best decision for him, at least from a professional standpoint, to go to the Draft this year. Once again, I’m with you. I’m just such a huge fan of his game, so I hope I’m wrong.

Nick:                         Andrew obviously tested the waters last year. Did he have the year that he thought he would? Did he not have the year that he thought? What would make you think, is it just the situation that we’re in with Coronavirus and all of that? Why do you think that he would be leaning towards coming back instead of again trying to test the waters? I mean, you can’t really test the waters like you did last year this year with everything going on.

Eric:                          The big for him was as someone who’s not a particularly athletic player, like if he were to go play in the NBA or the G League, he is going to be one of the worst athletes on the floor, which can still manage, especially with his poise and his size, but for a player like that, for a team to really say we can project that player to being on an NBA floor, he’s going to have to shoot the ball well. He was a decent shooter. He was a really good catch and shoot player as a freshman, but he really couldn’t shoot off the dribble, which is a very kind of important skill for a point guard to have. So, I think he needed to come back and say, I can shoot off the dribble. It was weird, because he actually kind of reversed it, where he had a decent season shooting off the dribble, but he was a terrible catch and shoot player. Then kind of overall, because most of your shot attempts are going to be catch and shoot still, his overall percentages were quite poor.

So, I think, again, just the way that the NBA game is played nowadays, I think a team looks at a guard and says, is he a good athlete? Well, no, unfortunately, Nembhard’s a below average athlete. Well then, can he shoot the ball well? It’s like, no, we can’t project him to be a good shooter. To have both of those boxes unchecked for an NBA prospect, that’s tough. I think that for him that would be something that he didn’t accomplish this year, especially with the jump shot, that would make his pro prospects a little in question, and I think he’s likely going to come back to college knowing that he needs to smooth out that jump shot.

He actually did improve his athleticism from a freshman to sophomore. I thought he got a lot better finishing around the rim. So, there was improvements in his game. But we know the jump shot. We know shooting the three is at a premium these days, so for him to have a poor shooting season for Florida, that definitely hurts his stock.

Andrew:                 Last thing for you, Eric, and then we’ll get you out of here. Does Scottie Lewis and potentially Nembhard coming back, does that cause any conflict for Mike White as far as the scholarships go? I know baseball’s facing it. Softball’s facing it. Does it cause any confusion there, or was White planning for that a little bit?

Eric:                          Well, something that was really interesting was Florida was going to have three open scholarships. It was Kerry Blackshear graduating, and then it was Gorjok Gak transferring out and Dontay Bassett transferring out, and they had three incoming players, Samson Ruzhentsev, Niels Lane, and a junior college transfer, Osayi Osifo. So, they’re actually in a good scholarship position. Everyone can come back, and it doesn’t actually cause any problems, which is actually something that Nick mentioned just before we started recording that I think is really interesting. In these last couple of seasons, Florida was full with scholarships, and they were still getting after every good viable transfer and grad transfer. Then look what happened at the end of the offseason last year. Guys ended up leaving late, and then they got Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby and Ques Glover late, Jason Jitoboh late. You kind of could have said they were full with scholarships, but they were offering everyone, so maybe something’s going to open up? And that’s what happened.

This year they have not been getting in touch with many transfers at all. There was two really, really good big grad transfers that hit the market yesterday in Matt Haarms and Rapolas Ivanauskas, who Florida actually tried to get last year when he put his name in the portal, but they didn’t contact him this year yet. Matt Haarms from Purdue, they didn’t contact him. So, to see their behavior change and not go after all these transfers, it might suggest that they think everyone’s coming back. They have the scholarships open for everyone to come back, and they’re not getting after these transfers. If you want to read into the tea leaves, these last two offseasons they got after all these transfers, tons of transfers, and that meant that guys ended up leaving. This year they haven’t, so maybe that means guys aren’t leaving.

Andrew:                 Do you think that, obviously, it’s good news for Florida, but do you think Mike White kind of already has an idea on that? Because like Nick said, it’s a situation where you say I want to test the waters, what are you testing the waters at? You don’t even know what the waters are. I mean, there’s, I would say, a slim to zero chance that there’s going to be a Combine. Like you just said, the NBA’s being dumb and won’t allow workouts. Do you think that it’s almost going to be a situation where guys aren’t going to say testing the waters, they’re just going to say coming back or going to the NBA?

Eric:                          I honestly wouldn’t even be shocked if Lewis still put his name into the Draft process, because I feel like he’s not going to be gone this offseason, but he almost certainly is going to be after next year, regardless. So, to him, I would say you should just test the waters anyways, even if you know you’re coming back to Florida. Which I don’t know if he’s going to do that, but it honestly wouldn’t shock me if we still hear that he’s declaring for the Draft, just to go have some Skype interviews with teams, just because why not?

Andrew:                 Right.

Eric:                          So, there might be like that, but, again, that’s for Lewis, who already says he’s coming back to Florida. That is going to be a lot tougher for if someone is like very seriously considering the Draft to now say, I guess I’m going to declare and go Zoom a couple teams. That is going to be weird. I’ll be interested to see if more, when we do hear from Nembhard or Johnson. I’m curious if it’s, again, what you would normally see, where a player would declare for the Draft and say, I’m potentially coming back, and then we find out after that process if they’re returning or not. That would be the typical way, but we’ll see if they do that way, or if they pull a Lewis and just make the decision before declaring.

Andrew:                 Nick, any final thoughts before we get Eric out of here?

Nick:                         No. I think we covered it. Good to touch on that grad transfer, because I think you can kind of look around and make some educated guesses, at least on what the coaching staff thinks is going to happen in terms of guys going pro or staying, based on how are they recruiting?

Andrew:                 As we say in football, you can always read the tea leaves.

Eric:                          Hey, I’ll mention this too. Talking about transfers that Florida did get in touch with. Right at the beginning of the offseason, like as soon as the season was kind of cancelled, and players started to put themselves in the portal, there was a couple guys who were, I would say like mid majorish players that were big men that Florida was contacting, and I was like, why would Florida be getting in touch with these players? These are not high major players, but they were big men that could rebound, and Florida was getting in touch them. For them to kind of contact those guys early in the offseason, and now when there’s really good grad transfers hitting the market, and they’re not going after them, maybe they know a little bit more than they did when the season first ended. There is some reason, I would say, for fans to be a little bit optimistic that maybe everyone’s coming back, and we’re running it back and going to be set up for a really good season.

Andrew:                 Mike White’s still the coach, so that won’t make a lot of people happy. Yeah. We’ll see. Hopefully White gets it turned around. Eric, we appreciate it so much, man. Look forward to all your stuff on Gator Country, and we’ll talk to you soon. Be safe up in Canada.

Eric:                          Hey, you guys too. Thank you so much.

Andrew:                 Guys, we’re back. Good stuff from Eric. Really appreciate him coming on and talking about the Scottie Lewis effect and all of that. Hopefully Mike White gets the guys back and has a good season and kind of tells all the Twitter haters to hush.

Nick:                         Yeah. Eric’s our guy for basketball. He knows what he’s talking about, so it was great to have him on. I think that’s the last thing he mentioned, the way that Florida and Mike White has been like grad transfer U. Just like you said, follow the visits. If Florida’s not going and bringing these kids in and doing stuff like that …

Andrew:                 There’s a reason.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Always a reason. There’s a reason behind every bit of madness. Nick, let’s talk a little bit here for a second. Football is now doing the virtual learning for four hours a week, so that’s better than it was. Good there. It’ll be interesting to see when they’re able to get back. Florida on Monday announced they’re suspending in-person classes until August, so it’ll be interesting to see how long before the guys can come back to campus, all that stuff. Then it’ll be interesting to kind of see where the NCAA goes. I’ve had some people tell me that they hear that the dead period from end of June till middle of July is going to be gone, and that they’re going to be able to do some football stuff and recruiting stuff during that time. I think it’s all wait and see. I think there’s honestly more of a wait, because you don’t know when this is going to end.

Nick:                         Yeah. I keep using the word, but it’s so unprecedented. I mean, you saw the SEC kind of reversed course. Initially it was nobody, and it’s probably the safe way to do it, nobody can have any conversations about football with their players when the players go home or get sent home. Now they’re like, this thing’s lasting a while, we need to do it. I feel like it goes out immediately as like a wide range of nothing can happen, until you start to figure things out. Then we’ve figured out ways to do things.

Andrew:                 Right. I mean, I want to say this, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, and I don’t mean this to talk down on the virus, because it’s a very serious thing, but I think when we all started it we didn’t understand how bad it was going to be, how long it was going to be. So, that would be that. They’re still recruiting. Still handing out multiple offers a day, it seems like. They continue to stay on the grind on that.

It’ll be interesting though to see, Nick, because there’s so many changes in recruiting. There’s going to be zero in-person visits for spring practice this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how much camp times they get, because camps could be, are going to be huge. I was talking to someone about this the other day. These three-star guys who are on the edge of getting an offer from Florida or not getting an SEC offer, it really hurts those guys, because those guys are the guys that are not able to come on campus or go to seven-on-seven events or have a spring practice where they show that they’re better than what they are or show that if a coach thinks maybe his hips are a little stiff, that his hips are stiff, or so on like that. It’ll be interesting to see where that is.

Nick:                         Lamical Perine, and we’re not talking about tweener guys, just maybe guys that haven’t been discovered yet. I mean, Lamical had to come and earn a scholarship. It’s not just, I guess the point I’m trying to make is it’s not a tweener guy. It might just be a guy that hasn’t been discovered yet that shows up to a camp and is an SEC caliber player.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Take a guy like Tre’Vez Johnson last year. A guy who blew up because of camps, seven-on-seven, spring practice, all that stuff. Be interesting to see where that is. I’ll steal the line Greg Sankey said, and he said, “I don’t know is an okay answer here.” That’s where we’re at. I don’t know. I don’t. There’s a lot of questions. I don’t even think the NCAA has the answers to it, so it’ll be interesting to see where we go. I think by this time next month we know a lot of answers, but right now we don’t.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’s better to say I don’t know than to try to sound like you know what you’re talking about and say something that turns out to be wrong.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Good news though, Nick. It sounds like Major League Baseball is trying to get back on the field. It looks like maybe they go to Arizona and quarantine out there for a little while and play there. Listen, Nick, I don’t care if they’re playing in park league stadiums on tee-ball fields, and they’re all hitting homeruns. Just give me baseball, please.

Nick:                         Obviously, they have the two leagues. There’s the Cactus League in Arizona, the Grapefruit League in Florida. But the 10 stadiums, or the 10 parks that they have, that they use for the Cactus League, they’re within a 22 mile radius of each other, whereas the ones in Florida you’ve got some down in West Palm Beach and some up in Jupiter. They’re spread over like 200 miles throughout the state of Florida. It’s just a weird formation of where the games are. So, that’s why they picked Arizona. Listen, I want baseball as much as you do, but I’m reading through the ESPN story from Jeff Passan yesterday, last night, late last night.

It says, I’ll read through this quickly. “The plan would dictate that all 30 teams play games at stadiums with no fans in the greater Phoenix area, including the Diamondbacks Chase Field, 10 spring training facilities, and perhaps they’re still looking at other fields. Players, coaching staffs and other essential personnel would be sequestered in relative isolation and travel only to and from the stadium.”

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Obviously, the MLB released a statement while we were talking with Eric, and they said, we’re talking about all kinds of plans to have a season. This is one of them, but nothing’s been finalized. I think this is asking a lot of the players, because however long. We were talking before, and I said four and a half months, and it’s probably not going to be that long. It’s obviously going to be a truncated season. Opening Day was supposed to be, what, two weeks ago? It feels like two years ago. It’s obviously going to be a truncated season, but still a lot of these guys have families. To ask a guy that lives in New York, to say you’re going to leave your family for four months to go to Arizona to play.

Andrew:                 I don’t think it’ll be that long, Nick. I think it’ll be a situation where by end of June, first of July, you’re able to play games. You’re basically away for spring training almost from the family. Listen, I’m not diminishing the fact that being away from your family isn’t going to be tough or anything like that. I do think in a way that these guys want to play, and they understand that, that they’ll be a little more adamant to go play. This is the thing that I think is big. Again, I’m not taking anything away from being away from your family or anything like that. I think it’s big for the country to get sports back. We all need something as a distraction. Basically, the only thing that’s on TV is reruns and the news. How good would be a situation of having sports? You talk about the fight that Dana White’s going to have on Saturday. That’s going to be huge. It’s going to be must-watch. People who don’t even care about UFC fighting are going to watch it, because it’s live sports.

Nick:                         Yeah. I don’t know what people’s money situation is, and it’s not like a Conor McGregor card, but people are dying for something to do.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         You put live sports on. I mean, the Masters is replaying great final rounds all week on ESPN, and I’ll be tuning in every day at 3:00 to watch Masters Tournament rounds where I know what’s going to happen on every single hole and every single swing, and I’m going to sit there, and I’m going to watch it, because it’s sports. Now you’re talking about lives sports and a fight, or whether it’s baseball. I do also think that baseball kind of is almost a barometer of the health of America. I don’t mean just like our physical health, but kind of like where the state of America is. I remember September 11, 2001, and that happened during the baseball season. It was a huge deal when baseball came back. It was, I think, the Subway Series, right?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         It was the Mets and Yankees. George Bush goes out there and gets on the mound and throws a heater in front of a packed stadium, and the entire nation was watching.

Andrew:                 Mike Piazza beats the Braves on the first game back in New York.

Nick:                         Yeah. Kind of like how just, I think baseball coming back is a sign of like normalcy coming back. Who knows if this virus is going to become a yearly thing or if it’s just this one time or what it is, but I think baseball coming back, if they can figure out a way to do it safely, obviously, is a good sign for America. They’re not going to go out there, baseball doesn’t want to be the sport to say we’re going to try it, they try it, and then all of a sudden you’ve got 30 Major League Baseball players with Coronavirus.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly.

Nick:                         I think if they do it that means they’ve figured out a way to do it, and I think that might signal we’re getting back on track and getting more towards normal.

Andrew:                 Whatever. I just want baseball. I need my Braves win tweets. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here.

Nick:                         You want to watch a baseball game with everyone in facemasks and bubble wrap.

Andrew:                 I don’t care, Nick. I would be one of those people who would go in a Hazmat suit to watch my Braves. I need baseball. Just give me baseball. It’s okay. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everybody next week. Hopefully we have some better news and maybe some answers.

Nick:                         Hopefully. Everyone out there, stay safe. Keep doing your part. Yeah. Just be careful. www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Search Gator Country. Hit subscribe. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Like Nick said, stay safe. Do your part. Let’s beat this thing all together and get football season and baseball season ready to roll. As always, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.