GatorCountry brings you a new Florida Gators podcast as we discuss the latest Florida Gators basketball news.
Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre talk with Eric Fawcett about the news of Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann declaring for the NBA draft on Sunday.
Andrew and Nick also talk with Eric about the recent additions to the Gators team and what the outlook for the 2020-21 team looks like now.
Andrew: What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, going to bring Eric back on, and before I bring Eric on, I’m going to pick on him real quick. He was wrong with Nembhard, just like he said he was going to be. We’re going to have to give him a hard time about that. Have to let him know you have to, what’s the word I’m looking for? If you want him to come back, you have to say he’s going to leave. I’m drawing a blank, Nick.
Nick: I guess he’s 0 for 3. He definitely got the Castleton transfer correct, but in terms of Florida’s guys, 0 for 3. I mean, does he get points for saying he was going to be wrong?
Andrew: Yeah. He gets points. I think most people here were probably, nobody knew the Scottie Lewis news. I think after that, everyone was probably 1 for 2, maybe. I think everyone predicted Nembhard was going to come back, and now he’s gone. We’ll see. He may not be gone, gone, but we’ll see. We’re going to talk with Eric about that.
Nick: It’s kind of the same thing. I don’t understand doing it this year. Last year you had the Combine, and you had all these workouts you could do. You can’t really do any of that right now, so I don’t understand. I guess I don’t understand what the process will look like this year. Last year and years past, you know exactly what that process of testing the waters is. You have no idea what that is, or if it even is a thing this year. I guess you can Zoom coaches, like FaceTime them. I don’t know.
Andrew: My whole thing is this. We’re going to talk more with Eric about this here in a second, but I wonder if Nembhard just says, I’m going to go here. Tried it last year. I didn’t exactly improve my stock, so I might as well go ahead. My biggest thing is Tre Mann, Nick. A guy who I thought really came on at the end of the year. He was a guy that needed some more film on there, on tape, and he needed the Combine, in my opinion. I want to ask Eric if that was more of him just wanting to move on from the program in general or what it was. That’ll be a question for Eric here in a minute.
Nick: It’ll be interesting to see what he thinks will end up happening with Tre Mann and Andrew Nembhard, and then try to figure out what this 2021 roster, that sounds weird to say, this 2021 roster will start to look like.
Andrew: We’ll see. Does it even start on time? You got to say it, right?
Nick: Doesn’t mean I want to hear it.
Andrew: Let’s get football. After we talk with Eric, we’ll come back. Dan Mullen had a Zoom meeting. That’s the new thing for 2020. Didn’t think you’d ever have that, Nick. Did you?
Nick: No. I mean, maybe I don’t have to leave the house ever. We can have a whole football season on Zoom.
Andrew: Monday press conferences with Dan Mullen, live on Zoom.
Nick: We were trying to get him every other week now, until quarantine’s over. We threw it out there.
Andrew: Instead of being sponsored by Gatorade, it’ll just be sponsored by Zoom. Let’s go to Eric. Let’s talk with him. We’ll get his thoughts on all this. You and I will come back. We’ll break down what Dan Mullen had to say. We’ll get everybody going. Let’s go to Eric.
Guys, we’re back. Back with our man Eric here. Eric, we’re messing with you a little bit in our intro, talking about how you went with the hattrick. We still love you and all. We’ll give you some redemption points with the big man pickup. Also, the Gators are expected, well, when you guys listen to this, the Gators will have picked up a commitment as well, so we’ll give you credit for that.
Eric: I’ll take that. I wrote on Gator Country a couple weeks ago about Florida pursuing Colin Castleton out of Michigan, something that wasn’t too surprising, given the fact that Florida recruited him heavily out of high school, and he’s from Daytona Beach. That was one that I was able to predict. There’s some people that really didn’t think it was the case, and you can go look at the forums. There were some people that said, there’s no way we’re after that guy. Hey, if Kowacie Reeves, Jr. who is Florida’s top recruit in the 2021 class, if he does commit today, on Thursday, by the time some of you may be listening to this, that was one I wrote about over a year ago that I was like this guy is a Gator, for sure.
I’m really going to have to get into the receipts and plead my case here, just to show that I’m not wrong 100% of the time. As of right now, if you want to know who I can be wrong about that’s going to the NBA Draft, if you want to know what lottery numbers are not going to win tomorrow, I am your guy.
Andrew: Let me ask you this.
Nick: You’re consistent.
Andrew: Consistently bad. No, I’m just kidding. I was telling Nick in the intro, I think everyone in the world, probably including Mike White, was wrong on the Scottie Lewis situation. I feel like most people were split on the Keyontae Johnson, maybe a little more leaning towards him coming back, but you had good points on why you thought he was going to go pro. Then when we all heard the Scottie Lewis news and Keyontae Johnson, I think even you would have changed your pick that Nembard was coming back, because, like Nick said, this isn’t the year to test the waters, but I told Nick, and I’ll ask you this, has Nembard just gotten to the point where he was like, you know what, I tried this process last year, came back to school. I didn’t improve my Draft stock at all. Probably hurt my Draft stock a little bit, because he was a second-round pick last year. I’m just going to go ahead and go to the NBA and figure it out. Is that kind of where he’s at?
Eric: I think that going into college there’s definitely people in Nembhard’s camp who thought he was going to go one and done. Then he had a really good season. I don’t think anyone would have expected him to get drafted if he stayed in the Draft, but he got some good feedback. Then he had the summer, last summer, where he was playing for Canada’s senior men’s national team, playing against some top pros from Europe as well as a good handful of NBA players, and he not only held his own, he was a productive player. So, I think when everyone kind of saw what he was doing there, what his camp saw him doing playing against NBA players, I think it was probably a conclusion in their mind. He’s going to only be at Florida for one more season.
So, did the season go exactly how they imagined? I would say, no, it didn’t, and he probably wasn’t as productive as they would have thought, but I still think when you go into the season with a mindset of this is going to be my last year at Florida it’s tough to kind of get out of that mindset. I mean, Scottie Lewis did. But for Nembhard in his second year, it just didn’t seem to be the case.
There are some reasons why I do think it’s a bit savvy for him to go, for his own pro prospects, to go this year, because we thought Scottie Lewis was going to go to the Draft. I thought Keyontae Johnson was going to go to the Draft. Those two guys are back. If you look at college basketball on the national landscape, there’s a lot of guys that we would have expected to go to the Draft that are coming back. That means that the pool of players to get drafted, as well as get those kind of coveted two way contracts, it’s a lot smaller than normal. So, if you’re someone advising Nembhard, you can say, this Draft pool is not, like this was already a weak Draft class to begin with, if everyone was in the Draft, and now you’ve got all these guys like Scottie Lewis that are pulling out. So, if you’re someone advising Nembhard, you can say this is a weak year for talent, and it just became a lot weaker with all these guys staying back.
Something also to think about is in the 2021 class, so what will be next year’s NBA Draft, there are a lot of point guards, a lot of the guys that are going to be one and done. There’s going to be a lot of guys in Nembhard’s position, and I think it’s going to be a lot more crowded for him to try to get a job in the NBA or G League. So, there are some things like that that point to it maybe being a really good decision for him and his family for him to go this year.
Nick: I like how you said that. You see it in not just basketball, but football too, where you kind of just get in that mindset. Just this is going to be my last year, and you kind of operate as that. Then things, like you said, don’t go the same way. I think that’s, I look at Scottie Lewis, and I think the first time I talked to and go up after him, this kid is so advanced and intelligent for his age. Scottie Lewis for President. I can’t remember if people said that. Scottie Lewis for President. I was like, maybe.
How much of it is maybe just the guys around you and the camp? I’ve heard a lot of stuff about the people around Tre Mann that are kind of steering him and his decisions. How much can a guy just be affected by, for lack of a better term, handlers around him, whether it’s mom or dad or brother or trainer, somebody around you kind of just giving you maybe not the best information, because maybe they’re not as informed as an NBA scout or GM who’s actually going to be making the pick?
Eric: I’m someone who very much gets caught when I cover the Gators and when I cover basketball, when I cover college basketball, thinking about these players as, for lack of a better term, pros. Like I really look at them through a lens of these really high level basketball players who are very advanced in their craft, and sometimes I forget that a lot of them, they are kids. I don’t say that to be belittling or anything like that, but when you’re 18, when you’re 19, even when you’re 20, like when I was that age, I needed people around me that would help me make decisions. I still need people around me to help me make decisions.
I do think for someone of that age, who’s impressionable, you’ve got to have people in your camp helping you make decisions. That can be a really great thing. It can be a bad thing. I do think that Nembhard has some really good, like his father is a very intelligent man, very good man. He’s got some other people in the Toronto basketball scene I’m aware of that are intelligent guys that I do think have his best will in mind. So, I definitely think that people around a player have a huge impact. I just know that sometimes when you say that, the connotations of that to some people are very negative. It can be, but having wise counsel can also be a really good thing. In Nembhard’s case, I think he’s got some smart guys around him.
This is something that actually hasn’t been talked a lot ever, like anywhere around basketball, but I think it’s really worth noting. Of course, they changed a rule this year to say that players can sign with an NCAA certified agent and still be able to return to college. So, people are aware of that. Something that hasn’t gotten talked about enough is that nearly every relevant agent in the NBA did not take part in the process. You can say they boycotted it or just didn’t want a part of it.
The NCAA had a bunch of guidelines that were not looked upon positively. Such as, they said that an agent needed to have a Bachelor’s degree, which is something that a lot of the top agents, including Rich Paul, who’s like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, the biggest agent in the sports world, does not have a Bachelor degree. People called it the Rich Paul rule, because it was very clearly targeted towards guys like him. So, that was a rule they didn’t like. The cost was like $4,000 to apply. People needed to fly to be physically in Indianapolis to take a test, so a lot of the agents were just like, we are not taking part in this.
So, when you look at the agents that are NCAA certified, there’s only 23 on the list, I believe, last time I checked, which was yesterday. Only six or seven of them currently have NBA players as their clients, and most of those agents, so the second-best agent, his best player is Kent Bazemore, someone Spivey might be aware of for his brief time in Atlanta. That’s the second-best agent, his best player is Kent Bazemore.
The best agent is the one that Andrew Nembhard signed with. He has Pascal Siakam, one of the best players in the NBA right now, and he’s got three or four other NBA players. So, I do think it’s worth noting that Andrew Nembhard not only signed with an agent, but he signed with the best agent out there. The bar is quite low, but the fact that he signed with the best agent out there shows that he’s getting probably the best counsel that’s out there right now available to these players, as well as that kind of showed me that he was probably serious about going pro and not returning to Florida.
Andrew: Let’s take it to Tre Mann. I was telling Nick in the intro here, Tre Mann shocked me. There’s just no other way to put it. You told me, and I guess you get credit for this, but you told me, you were like, watch Tre Mann. I was like, there’s no way Tre Mann’s going. Tre Mann just came on at the end of year and finally showed people what he could do. He needed more film, and he definitely needed the Combine. Let me ask you this. Is it more of Tre Mann realizing Florida has the transfer going to start next year, and maybe the system didn’t work for him, so let me go test the waters out? Was that it, or does Tre Mann fully believe he’s about to get drafted?
Eric: I don’t think he thinks he’s about to get drafted. I just think the rule is there to give players this opportunity, and he took the opportunity to go test the waters. I think that that shows why it’s a successful system, when players take part in it. Tre Mann’s another guy that I do think before the season he would have thought he was going to be in the mix for maybe going one and done, and his camp felt the same. While the season did not go as I would have expected and how they certainly expected, I still think that they were in the mindset of we’re going to Year 1, and we’re going to go test the waters for the Draft. Even though the season didn’t go the way they wanted it to, I still think they’re going to go test the waters. I do fully expect Tre Mann to be back.
A lot of people also pointed to, he did an Instagram Live after putting his name into the Draft, and someone said, chill, he’s just going to go get feedback. He’s coming back. Then Tre pinned it to his Instagram Live, so everyone could see it. He seems to just be like this is a cool opportunity to go and, well, I was going to say get in the room, get in the virtual Zoom room with NBA executives and have some dialogue.
The one thing I would caution is, it’s corny to say, but you only get one opportunity to have a first impression, and if there’s teams that see Tre Mann is eligible for the Draft, let’s take a look at his numbers and the film, there’s going to be some stuff that’s not super flattering there. So, if he even has a really good year next year and goes to the Draft, there’s going to be some teams that are still going to remember mentally labeling as a guy that they might not be interested in. That would be my one fear for him testing the waters. At the same time, maybe he wants to have a face to face conversation with some of these guys and say, this is why things didn’t go great, and this is what I’m working on, or look at how I played in the first half of the season, where I struggled on the defensive end, and I wasn’t playing within the offense, to look at the second half of the season, when I was the first guy off the bench in a lot of games. Maybe those are the conversations he wants to have. More power to him.
Andrew: Let me say this though. It almost seems counterproductive though in a way. I get your point. I do. Honestly, does Tre Mann think he’s going to impress someone in the Zoom meetings? I mean, it’s a Zoom meeting. Everyone should impress in a Zoom meeting. It’s not like you can go out there and get to the Combine and run the little whatever they run, the 20-yard dash or whatever they run, and showcase your skills. I’m like Nick. It’s kind of the wrong year to do this year. All signs point to nothing. There’s going to be zero travel, zero workouts, zero nothing. I don’t know. It just kind of seems counterproductive to me.
Eric: I hear you. Again, if I were to be advising Tre, I would say, you do run the risk of a team looking at your numbers and looking at some of the film, maybe the first game they pull up is the Florida State game or something from November.
Eric: You didn’t look great. You don’t want someone looking at someone being like, there’s no way I’m interested in that, because it’s tough to break that mindset, even if he has a really good year next year. Hey, it’s so early in this. What I’m saying is there hasn’t been a lot of players in Tre Mann’s position that are five-star All-Americans who had a poor year who entered the Draft. So, to really tell the story of was this a good thing for him to do or not a good thing for him to do, we’re going to have to wait until next year or the year after that, or whenever he maybe does eventually go to the Draft, and then we’ll be able to say maybe that was a good idea, or maybe it wasn’t.
Andrew: Do you think that, let me start over. Where is Mike White in this situation? Do you feel like Tre Mann’s told Mike White, listen, I’m just going to do this to basically have a little fun and see what I can come up with? I mean, Mike White only has limited scholarships here, so it’s a situation where if he feels like Tre Mann’s gone, he needs to go get someone. You know what I’m saying? Do you feel like Tre Mann has relayed that message to Mike White of I’m going to be back, I’m just basically going to test the waters?
Eric: I’d certainly hope so. I would hope that that’s the conversation between the head coach and the players at the University of Florida. I would expect that that would be the case. It is very interesting that on the day that both Nembhard and Mann declare for the Draft that that is the day that they’re able to officially get the transfer, Colin Castleton. You’d have to think at least one of those guys was very open about their intentions, but maybe they both said that they were going to go, or maybe none of them said they were going to go, and White was going to cover his bases and figure it out later.
We can’t know for sure. I’m anticipating that Nembhard was very open about his intentions and said, I’m going to be gone, and hopefully Mann was the same, and that’s what I would expect too, like I’m going to test the waters, but I’m going to be back and going to try to battle for a starting spot and try to get in the Draft next year. I would hope that that’s the open kind of conversation and the relationship that White has with the players.
Andrew: Hopefully so. Let’s move on. Castleton, the big man from Michigan. Tell us about him. I’ve seen mixed reviews. Some say, what in the heck is Mike White doing? Some say, good pickup. What says Eric?
Nick: He’s a sit one, play two.
Andrew: We say that. Who knows what the NCAA will do? Tomorrow he may be eligible.
Eric: It is true. This one-time transfer rule could come into effect this offseason. The other thing too is if Castleton wanted to make a case and say, I committed to John Beilein in my first year. Then there was a coaching change. Things didn’t go great with the first coach. This Coronavirus thing is crazy, and I wanted to get closer to home, because I didn’t know when the season would start, when classes would start, everything like that. I think he could make a case.
Andrew: My hair color changed. I was too cold. My Michigan sweatpants didn’t fit. You name it, and the NCAA almost gives you the waiver.
Eric: If we want to operate on the assumption that he is what he probably should be, and that’s a sit one, play two, that’s probably a good thing to do. I’m just going to start with some of the perceived negatives, because, like you said, there were some mixed reviews. The negative would come from he didn’t really get on the floor much at Michigan in two years.
Just something that I don’t think people realize is that Michigan had a center in Jon Teske who was one of the best centers in college basketball. Two years ago, in the NCAA Tournament, he just dominated Florida on both ends. He was a guy that played a ton of minutes and, obviously, started at the center position. And then they also had a senior in Austin Davis this year, which meant last year, when Castleton was a freshman, Austin Davis was a junior. So, of course, the junior coming off the bench is probably going to get the center minutes. This season, when Austin Davis is a senior, he’s probably to get the minutes over Castleton.
You could look at the negatives and say he didn’t get on the floor that much, maybe there’s something wrong there, but when you look at the film, there’s so much to like about Castleton. For starters, he’s such a good player on the pick and roll. Something that you see in the NBA a ton is something called you want to hit the roller on the short roll, so that’s like taking the pick and roll, the ball handler takes one bounce, and then he feeds the ball into the big man around the free throw line area. By getting the ball there, the big man can either take one or two dribbles and try to finish, or he can make an extra pass to a shooter when the defense collapses.
It’s something you see in the NBA all the time, and when Juwan Howard came from the Miami Heat to go coach Michigan, he brought that NBA offense. Castleton was really good in that area, and it’s something that Florida didn’t have the opportunity to do, because Blackshear was someone who he didn’t really have the body control to roll hard, stop on a dime, get the ball, pivot quick, and make a pass, or he wasn’t someone who could take two dribbles and really finish, because he didn’t have great explosion or extension. So, Castleton really offers an element to the pick and roll game that Florida doesn’t have.
The other thing that needs to be discussed, we know that Florida’s pick and roll defense really was poor for a lot of last season. Their overall defense was poor, and a lot of it was the play at the center spot that they weren’t getting defensive production from. So, you’ve got to talk about what does Castleton bring on that end. He is just so much more mobile than most centers. It was really apparent in the Big 10, where there are a lot of very, very good centers. It’s the best group of centers in the League are in the Big 10, or in the country, I should say, are in the Big 10. To see him able to really slide out on the pick and rolls and switch out onto guards and look totally comfortable in isolation, when a much smaller player was trying to attack him.
You can look at the fact that he didn’t get on the floor a lot say, that’s concerning, and some people have done that, but when you look at what he did when he was on the floor, there’s not a lot of flaws there. He just looked like a really good young player who was a lot better in his sophomore year than his freshman year. He added like 20 pounds of muscle, because he was pretty thin coming out of high school. I’m really excited about it. I can understand people’s concerns, but if you watch the film, if you watch what he did, you look at the advance numbers, I’m projecting him to be a very good Gator.
Andrew: Does he start, and how’s his defense?
Eric: Sorry, what was the second part of that?
Andrew: How’s his defense?
Eric: I mean, defensively he’s really mobile for a guy who’s 6’11”, and he’s also really good as a rim protector. Something that Florida kind of lacked since Kevarrius Hayes left was a mobile center. I think when people think of shot blockers, so often they think of some players with height, and they think of players that can jump. There’s certainly something to be said about that, but Kevarrius Hayes was one of the best rim protectors in the country, and it was because he could move his feet, because he would need to get from one side of the block quickly over to the other side of the block to contest the player that was driving.
Castleton has that mobility, and then he also has some of the length. He’s not a great athlete, like he’s not an explosive athlete who’s going to get high above the rim to make a block, but he’s got really good feet and was able to have a really good block percentage that was in top 100 of the country last year. He would be just behind Omar Payne in that category. For that reason, let’s say that Castleton were to get eligible for next season, he’s definitely in the mix to start. I think he’s just so much more advanced offensively than an Omar Payne. Omar Payne has all the skills to be a really good defender. He wasn’t able to put it all together, though he was a monster on the inside blocking shots.
But I do think the most kind of polished on both sides of the floor center, between Jason Jitoboh, Omar Payne, and Colin Castleton, the most polished is Colin Castleton. I would definitely consider him in the mix to start, and if not, if he was eligible, I would be very comfortable with Florida’s center rotation. I would know between those three guys they’re going to get 40 minutes of good center play on most nights.
Andrew: Me and you are not friends no more. We were on the Omar Payne train together, and now you’re off. No.
Eric: Certainly not off the train. I have stood hard for Omar Payne on this podcast and in my writing. If you’re saying Night 1 of next season, I think you might see Castleton in the mix. Something that I do think is actually pretty interesting is I know you could look at Castleton’s a junior, and Payne is a sophomore, so Castleton’s maybe a more experienced player. One thing to note is that Omar Payne actually played more minutes as a freshman than Colin Castleton did as a freshman and sophomore combined. So, currently Omar Payne would be the technically more experienced player, if you want to go by minutes played.
That’s something that probably needs to be discussed. Because one of the conversations has been people saying, this is Florida getting older, which they are getting older, no question, whenever you bring in a transfer sophomore, but the thing is he’s not particularly experienced in terms of minutes on the floor. Though, like I said, the Big 10 was just full of really good centers. It seemed like every team had an amazing center in the Big 10 this year. So, when Castleton was out there, he was playing against really high competition at his own position, and I think that that’s worth something.
Nick: Florida was as young as you could possibly be last year, so getting older isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Eric: No. You’ve got to think like if Castleton is able to play right away, and then you get the fourth-year players in Tyree Appleby and Anthony Duruji, and obviously there are returning guys like Lewis and Johnson. I mean, you’re not the oldest team in the country, but you’re a lot older than a lot of the teams in the SEC are going to be, because a lot of these teams in the SEC are losing guys to the NBA Draft or to graduation. You start to look at some of Florida’s, like for example, I think Kentucky, which this is even more so than normal for Kentucky, but currently they’re bringing back 5% of their scoring production from last year. Usually they’re around like 30%. Tennessee’s got a great recruiting class, but they’re going to be young.
Some of these top teams in the SEC, they’re going to be young. If Florida, for once, has an experience advantage and age advantage, I think that that could be a really good thing. Something that’s kind of interesting is under White Florida has had four really young teams and one team that was old. The old team went to the Elite Eight. The team that went to the Elite Eight, they had good talent. They had good players, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t like they had immense talent and just were overwhelming teams with talent and athleticism. They had really solid talent and athleticism, but they were old. They were veterans. We saw what that did.
Nick: We talked about that on the podcast where you said that’s kind of where the NCAA is going, if you look at these teams. You get an outlier when Kentucky’s got Anthony Davis. Was that Booker and Davis who?
Andrew: Booker, Davis, and …
Nick: Anyway, you get an outlier where you’ve got three high caliber NBA guys that are all freshmen on a team, but you start looking around and look at the teams that Beilein was bringing to the Final Four at Michigan. Those were older veteran teams. It’ll be interesting to see. What do the scholarship numbers look like now? It seems like, other than Tre Mann and Nembhard looking at the NBA, it seems like there’s a lot of guys coming in, and you’re not losing a lot.
Eric: In terms of scholarships for Florida, they were like even, had zero space, if Nembhard and Mann both came back. So, that’s why when Castleton came in that technically put them over the scholarship limit by one, which really spoke to the fact that one of those guys was very likely going to be gone, unless something crazy happens and both of those guys come back, and it’s actually someone else on the roster that’s taking off. I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
Something too about getting old. Now that the G League is going to start plucking one or two or three guys every year that are top 10 college recruits, those were the guys that are normally going to go to your Kentuckys of the world. They’re probably going to skip college altogether. You saw teams like Memphis, who had all this one and done NBA talent, they were largely irrelevant this past season. I just think that it’s going to continue to be the older and older teams have success, something we saw last year. Something we saw the year prior to that. Something we’ve seen over the last decade, honestly.
It’s interesting. As much as some teams and coaches do want to pursue the five-star one and done guys, and I can absolutely see why, if you’re trying to chase a Final Four, that just has not shown to be an effective strategy. We did talk about this on this podcast. It’s not the one and done guys. It’s the guys that you thought were going to be one and done that ended up coming back for another year. The Scottie Lewis of the world. That’s why I’m pretty excited for next year’s team.
Nick: You just brought it up. How much is what we’re seeing, I guess the avenue has always been there to skip college going overseas, but that’s not feasible or attractive to a lot of guys. Go find a spot in Greece and go play, or in Germany, and go play for a year and then come back. It seems like this G League, I’m just going to go play in Vegas, I’m going to go play for a G League team for a year, and then enter Draft, instead of going and doing the college route. How much do you see that changing the landscape of college basketball now that this is becoming an option?
Andrew: Before you go with that, to go on Nick’s point, how much do you see that hurting guys like Kentucky, and is there a trickledown effect?
Eric: When you look at college basketball on the whole, this might be a bit of a hot take, but I think this helps college basketball. I think one of the biggest problems that faces college basketball is that there’s such a lack of continuity and such major roster turnover ever year. A lot of casual fans are like, I really like this guy named Trey Young, and then they go watch Oklahoma next year, and he’s gone, and they don’t recognize the roster whatsoever.
That seems to be with a lot of the people who are more of the college football fans that just tune in once college football’s done. They grow to love a player or a team, and they say, I’m going to watch Kansas again next year, because I really liked this player. Then they come back next year, and they have no understanding of anyone on the roster, because it’s almost totally changed over. I think that having continuity is really going to start to bring in more fans, because it’s going to be an easier sport to follow.
I also think the quality of play is going to be higher when you’re getting teams that are more veteran. You said, like does it hurt a team like Kentucky? I think it might, just because they aren’t getting these hugely talented guys, but at the same time, I think it might help them, because, like you mentioned, the best Kentucky were when they had guys returning. I look at these teams that are one and done reliant, and if they get guys that are slightly less talented, but are around for two or three more years, those players in their second and third years are probably going to be better than these one and done talents coming for one year.
There’s some people that think it’s such like a death blow to college basketball, but if you look at some of the top players over the last few seasons, you look at Markelle Fultz going to Washington and being irrelevant, or that team being irrelevant. You look at Ben Simmons going to LSU, that team was irrelevant. There’s a player named Cade Cunningham, Number 1 player in next year’s class, he’s going to Oklahoma State. Anthony Edwards at Georgia, he might be the Number 1 pick, and he said I’m going to go to Georgia. Not a team that was relevant in the national landscape. The last several years have had the top talent go to nontraditional basketball teams in terms of where the top guys usually go, so I’d say we’re kind of used to the Dukes and Kentuckys and North Carolinas of the world not getting the top players like they used to a decade ago, and things were fine.
I don’t think this is a death blow. I’m all about the players and them having rights, so I’m glad there are other avenues for them. If they want to choose them, that’s great. If not, there’s a player named Greg Brown, who Florida was recruiting. Now he’s going to Texas. He was offered $400,000 to go play in the G League next year. He chose college. I think that that kind of speaks to the fact that they’re not going to be able to just throw money at all these players and have them say yes instantly, because a player like Greg Brown had $400,000 on the table and said, I still think the college route is what’s best for my long-term future.
Nick: He said, that’s what you’re offering me? You didn’t see Coach Cal’s offer.
Andrew: Yeah. Do feel like this will make the NCAA have more parity around? I don’t want to say all the big names are going to go, but I would say that the one and dones will probably be cut maybe in half or so, or not maybe in half, but I think there will be less one and dones for sure. Do you think that’ll help with the parity? Because the biggest argument has been that there’s not a ton of parity in college basketball.
Eric: Yeah. I think this is really grossly oversimplifying it, but there’s kind of two ways to have a winning basketball team in college basketball. You either have NBA talent, or you have older guys that have chemistry. I think when you eliminate some of the teams that have the one and done NBA talent, all the teams that have chemistry and program success of guys that have been there a few years, they’re all going to be risen up. I think you look at the last year, the best teams are kind of Gonzaga, Dayton, out of nowhere, because they were old.
Obviously, Obi Toppin like “comes out of nowhere” last year to be amazing. He was someone that was probably going to be a second round pick last year, and he decided to come back. He’s also in his fourth year of college. The idea that Obi Toppin really exploded, I’m not trying to take anything away from him, but the fact that he’s 22 years old really helps him dominate college basketball.
Eric: I do think that when you look, or look at one of the best players, Luka Garza, at Iowa. Not an NBA guy, but stuck around college. I do think the more you eliminate kind of these flash in the pan one and done guys, the more it’s going to get power to the programs that are used to having upperclassmen. Parity’s going to continue.
Andrew: That kid from Creighton a couple years ago, what was his name? The one that dad was a coach.
Eric: Doug McDermott.
Andrew: He’s playing in the League, but he’s not, he’s getting paid, but he was one of those guys who was just a college lifer almost. Took Creighton, I think they lost Sweet Sixteen or something, but still. He had them ranked really high, because he was an older player.
Nick: Doug McDermott was made to be an Indiana Pacer.
Nick: I think that’s where he is now. Just tall white guy that shoots really well. That is, to me, Indiana basketball.
Andrew: Indiana or Cleveland.
Eric: He’s got the haircut that you could just put him in the ‘80s or the ‘90s and like sepia tint a photo, and you’d believe it. He certainly has that look.
Andrew: Real quick, Eric, before we get out, give us a rundown on this kid, and I’m not even going to try to pronounce his name.
Nick: That would be a murder.
Andrew: Yeah. Whatever this kid from Macon, Georgia. His name, give us his name and give us the outlook on the newest commit for Florida.
Eric: Kowacie Reeves, Jr. who I absolutely love.
Andrew: Kowacie Reeves, Jr. I can do that. Kowacie Reeves, Jr. Okay. I got it.
Nick: We need to start an Eric, like a man crush list. One of the writers I follow, Omar Kelly for the Dolphins, has a man crush list he calls it for the Draft of guys that he loves. He’s watching film and falls in love and wants the Dolphins to draft these guys. We need an Eric man crush list.
Eric: It started with Keyontae Johnson. He was my initially probably man crush from his freshman season. Kowacie Reeves, Jr. he’s going to take the baton. So, Kowacie Reeves, Jr. Here would be my #1 way for you to really understand how good he is as a player. If you go and Google his name, you’re going to see some national writers that are going to say, Kowacie Reeves, Jr. one of the best athletes in the 2021 class, and he’s 6’6”. So, one of the best athletes at 6’6”. If you look at another article from other national recruiting writers, you’re going to see, Kowacie Reeves, Jr. the best shooter in the 2021 class. Then I think when you see some of the other articles, you see that he’s one of the best academic students in the class. You can kind of see that, because his final schools are Florida, Stanford, and Georgia Tech. He’s very academically focused.
He’s not someone who just stands and shoots or goes and puts up big dunks as an athlete. He’s someone who can really handle the ball, has basketball IQ, and plays unselfishly, even though he was unquestionably the best player on his high school team, and it wasn’t even close. He really spread the ball around, when he could have just went hero ball. Yeah.
I would say that’s kind of the player you’re getting, someone who’s at 6’6” one of the best athletes and one of the best shooters in the class. Florida was his first offer back nearly two years ago, May of 2018. They’ve been on him ever since. For them to have that kind of payoff, that’s huge when you have that kind of investment in a kid. I just think he’s going to be just a fantastic player that’s going to fit into whatever style that Florida wants him to. He could play point guard. He could play small forward. I think it would be great if you just kept him at the shooting guard, where he’s still going to be bigger than everyone but can handle the ball and be quicker than anyone he’s guarding. I just think this is a brilliant start to the recruiting class for 2021.
Nick: Sounds like he’s playing your heartstrings.
Eric: Oh, yeah. I could go on for longer, but I’m sure there’s some other man crushes on the football side that need to be discussed. I mean, the NCAA started the other day talking about how players with the name, image, and likeness, how players are going to start to have those opportunities probably, but they still said it’s not going to be able to have anything team related. So, we’re still not going to be able to buy a jersey of a particular player, but they’re really going to have to get that figured out by the time that Kowacie Reeves, Jr. is out of town, because I’m going to need a jersey for sure of him, preferably in the white retro Gator’s jersey.
Andrew: There’s some China people that’ll …
Eric: That’s true.
Andrew: What is it? DH Gade or something like that that does them. I get those little advertisements all the time. Mike White might not be able to coach very well, according to some fans, but he can recruit. Eric, we appreciate it, my man. We will get you back, and we’ll talk more about this basketball team here in the coming days. Until then, we appreciate it. Stay safe up in Canada.
Eric: Thanks for having me, guys. Appreciate it.
Andrew: Nick, good stuff from our man, Eric. Be interesting to see how that G League really affects things. I’ll say this. I agree with Eric. I’ll speak for you when I say this, but you and I don’t follow basketball nearly like we do football across the country, and it’s tough to kind of get to know some of these teams, when it seems like every year it’s a new starting five, because this freshman left early or this freshman left early.
Andrew: Some continuity would be good, and I think would help the sport that for the most part they say the regular season numbers and rating are declining.
Nick: Yeah. Shoot, ratings will skyrocket whenever we get anything back.
Andrew: Give me baseball, please.
Nick: I think it’ll be interesting to see. I think when the first couple kids start doing it, you get the guys that are the doom and gloom, and this is going to kill college basketball. I think Eric kind of just gave us some perspective. Some guys might do it, and good for them. But then you talk, is that going to hurt Kentucky? Well, does Kentucky then just go get the next best guy?
Nick: Do you still keep that same hierarchy of now it’s just the pool of players to pick from is just smaller for the other schools? It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I don’t think it’ll be everyone, but we’ll see.
Andrew: Listen, I understand the G League has their championship and everything else, but a lot of people want to win that NCAA Championship, want to have that experience, so we’ll see. Some guys did experience some lifelong goals last weekend though, Nick. Several Gators were drafted. CJ Henderson to the Jags. Greenard to the Texans. Jabari and Lamical Perine to the Jets. Tyrie Cleveland to the Broncos, and Freddie Swain to Seattle. Then several guys picked up as undrafted free agents. Overall, a really productive day for the Gators.
Nick: I’m pulling up this, Florida just put up a graphic. CJ Henderson to the Jaguars, obviously the first pick of the Gators. Van Jefferson I think was probably the most pro ready of Florida’s Draft class. He goes to the Rams. I think that’s a great spot for him. Jabari Zuniga and Lamical Perine to the Jets. Fricking Jets. They are just loaded with Gators now.
Andrew: And they traded for Quincy Wilson.
Nick: Yeah. Brian Poole, Marcus May, Quincy.
Andrew: Jonathan Harrison.
Nick: It’s Gainesville North. Freddie Swain, really interesting spot for him, because he’s a guy, like we say all the time, if you want to make a roster, you need to play special teams. Freddie’s a guy that will be on punt, kick, punt block, kick block, return. He’s on everything. The one I think is going to have the hardest road is Tyrie Cleveland. The Broncos used their first two picks on receivers. It’s hard to screw up being a top two pick, first two rounds, and to not make a team. I know Jachai Polite figured that out, but it’s really hard to do that.
Andrew: When you give Jerry Jeudy $20-some million dollars.
Nick: Yeah. Jerry Jeudy’s on the team. He’s one of the 53 already. That’s one spot that isn’t going to be available for any other wide receiver. He was the, what, 20th pick in the Draft? Something like that.
Andrew: 17th maybe. Something like that. I mean, then a guy who pretty much walked into a starting job is Tommy Townsend. Undrafted free agent and one of the Colquitt, the nine Colquitt brothers it seems like, got cut, so Tommy Townsend may be the guy who’s got the easiest road to a starting job now.
Nick: Yeah. That’s just the way it is. Colquitt was 37 years old, making more than $2 million a year, and you get a guy like Tommy Townsend. It’s just a spot where we can sign him for, I think it was like $80,000. Obviously, if he makes the team, it’ll be different. There’s a League minimum that you’ll make, but League minimum is significantly less than what Dennis Colquitt was going to make. You go from being undrafted to you’re on the team, basically. I think they also signed a former free agent, so it will be a competition, but you’re not competing with a guy that’s got 17 years’ experience.
Andrew: Right. Exactly. A guy who’s close to me, and I think you and I both say we’re both see get drafted, was Lamical Perine to the Jets. You and I have talked about this. In a good spot. Le’Veon Bell’s a free agent after this year. Doesn’t have a ton of competition for that RB2 spot. A little bit different player than Le’Veon Bell, so not a bad spot for Perine.
Nick: No. Not a bad spot for him. Shoot, running backs, Le’Veon Bell has been one of the best in the League, but running back’s a position where you’re not around for long. So, who knows how much longer Le’Veon Bell will be the bell cow in New York, or how much longer he’ll be in the League, but while he’s there, that’s a guy you definitely want to learn from.
Andrew: Yeah. CJ Henderson with the Jaguars. Their string of continuing to draft Florida players still there. Good spot. He probably is a Day 1 starter there as well. Pretty good spot for him. Jonathan Greenard is not reunited, because he never played for him, but back with former Gator coach in Chris Rumph.
Nick: Yeah. Some other guys. David Reese is going to get, some undrafted free agent guys other than Tommy. Adam Shuler is going to go out in Arizona. David Reese signed with Carolina, and Josh Hammond in Jacksonville. Hammond’s a guy that I think, I brought it up a little bit with Tyrie, but I think it was better for Josh to not get drafted, rather than like Tyrie getting drafted in the seventh round. You kind of pick your spot. I think if Tyrie would have an opportunity to pick his spot, he wouldn’t have picked Denver. Given what we said with how they spent their Draft picks on the same position.
I think that’s a good spot for Josh, and he’s a guy, just like we were talking about with Freddie, going to play on special teams. Not really a dynamic kind of returner that Freddie is, but he’s a guy that can fill up a couple roster spots. We talk about that as well. There’s only 53 spots. If you’re only a wide receiver, you better be a damn good wide receiver to make the roster, but if you can play on four different special teams, you’re filling up. You’re a jack of all trades almost. You’re a guy that can fill up a couple roster spots with only one. You have a better shot of making that team. I think that is something that Freddie and Josh can both do.
Andrew: Yeah. I’ll say this. Jabari Zuniga may end up being the guy who is the underrated guy. If Jabari’s healthy, Jabari’s not on the board in the third round where he is. I think if he can stay healthy, he’s a guy that can prove to be a very good player for the Jets.
Nick: Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see. I was never down on him, but …
Andrew: He just stayed hurt.
Nick: Yeah. He would just disappear in games. You can’t do that at the NFL level.
Andrew: His body style and everything with that, he’s a guy who I think can sustain in the NFL for a little bit. He’s a guy that I don’t think he’s too small for it by any means. Like I said, if he can just stay healthy, I think he can play.
Any final thoughts before we get out of here? We kind of ran a little bit over time with my man Eric there, but no big deal at all there. We’ll catch up on some football stuff next week. Not like we’re going anywhere.
Nick: Just two things that we’re going to be keeping an eye on. Today the NCAA Board of Directors said they would not recommend a one-time transfer waiver. I mean, obviously, like the state of California says, we’re not going to have fall sports, because we don’t think it’s safe, a bunch of guys leave and go to Georgia or Alabama or Florida, states that are opening back up. How does that affect everything? Then also, the NCAA is thinking about letting athletes, or they voted on it. I don’t know how they’re going to implement it. I’m still talking to people and trying to figure out how that would be implemented, allowing players to make money off of like their name, likeness, or brand themselves on social media. Just be able to make money.
Andrew: Just go ahead and start paying them. You’re opening up a can of worms. I don’t know. Good luck trying to regulate that.
Nick: People say, only the biggest schools are going to make, okay, does that mean NYU is going to have the best football program because they’re in midtown Manhattan? You think of all the money in New York. T Boone Pickens is a billionaire, and that hasn’t won any national championships for Oklahoma State football. It’s just the shortsightedness in saying the biggest schools and the biggest donor bases are going to be the richest. One of the richest guys in the world is the biggest donor at Oklahoma State, and it’s not doing it for them.
Andrew: Think about the money Jared Jones pours into Arkansas.
Nick: Right. Walmart’s based in Arkansas. I forget the family’s name, but their name’s all over the stadium there. Is Arkansas going to be a national power? Who knows?
Andrew: That’s something we’ll get into more next week and get into more of where things are going. I think we probably both feel better about football in the fall today than we did maybe last week, but it’s week by week. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. Get out of here. See everyone next week. If you guys are interested in more of the baseball podcasts, hit us up. Let us know.
Nick: www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. It’s on all of your streaming platforms. Do your social media thing. @GatorCounty on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.