With two scholarships remaining the Gators have a lot of directions they could go in and this weekend they’re going to assess one route by welcoming Louisiana Tech transfer Anthony Duruji to Gainesville for an official visit. Duruji just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Bulldogs and will have two years of eligibility remaining after he sits out a required redshirt season with whatever program he chooses. A hyper-athletic 6’7” wing, Duruji averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season while also providing 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals. I find Duruji to be a fascinating player and here’s why.
As I mentioned before, Duruji is a sit-one-play-two and let’s be honest, that isn’t completely ideal. Florida is currently without a clear starter at the center position and they also need someone who can eat minutes at the 3 and 4 positions considering Keyontae Johnson and Scottie Lewis are the only players currently on the roster who profile to fill those spots unless Coach White wants to go small with 3 guards (which he did last season for stretches) or big with 2 centers on the floor (which he did in small doses with Kevarrius Hayes and Dontay Bassett near the end of the season). The thing about the 3 and 4 situation is that it isn’t going to get much better in the 2020-2021 season either. Scottie Lewis is fully expected to go one-and-done so he’ll be gone and I wouldn’t be shocked if Keyontae Johnson is in that mix as well. The current recruiting 2019 recruiting class, while talented, doesn’t have a projected power forward (unless you see Omar Payne as a 4, I personally do not) so the Gators could find themselves in a tough spot again after next season as it relates to the 3 and 4 positions. Duruji is capable of putting in minutes at both spots and I think that if he came to Florida he would be a starting caliber player after his redshirt year who could provide two seasons of excellent production in orange and blue.
Anthony Duruji is one of the most athletic players in all of college basketball and possesses a 46.5” vertical leap which could very well be the highest in all the country. As a reference point, the highest vertical leap recorded at last year’s NBA combine was 42” from Josh Okogie. He is able to really channel his explosiveness functionally and that allows him to be a terror in transition where he’s extremely affective (an area the Gators struggled in last year) as well as when it comes to finishing at the rim where he shot a magnificent 64.1%. Not only did he shoot a high percentage at the rim but he got there a ton by both using a simple but affective driving game as well as cutting away from the ball and looking for passes. When he powers up towards the rim, look out because he’s looking to put a defender on a poster with every leap. His dunking highlights have been all over Sportscenter and with two years of eligibility remaining I’m sure he’ll have plenty more. I highlighted a few of his plays here.
His leaping ability helps defensively as he protects the rim as evidenced by his 1.2 blocks per game and it also allows him to be a solid rebounder. He shows pretty good foot speed and has pretty solid closeout fundamentals and those two attributes allowed him to get to a lot of jump shooters and defend them well. As you can imagine, being that athletic at 6’7” also allows him to be a pretty impactful perimeter defender. It’s tough for an opposing player to beat him off the bounce given that length and quick-twitch movement and I think he projects to be a lockdown defender at the high major level.
A 33% 3-point shooter this past season he wasn’t exactly deadly but he has a decent stroke that I think will improve after a redshirt year. He took a lot of jumpers off the dribble which, as anyone who reads my work knows is not a very efficient shot but if he were to take those attempts out and just be a catch and shoot player he’d be quite useful from behind the arc. He shot over 40% on open catch and shoot jumpers which shows his overall percentage could likely be higher with better shot selection and that’s something I would hope could be improved. His 67.3% stroke from the free throw line isn’t where it needs to be either but it’s not terrible and considering how many monster athletes in college basketball lack the touch to shoot at all, I’d say Duruji is doing alright for himself.
If Duruji came to Florida I could see him being primarily a power forward whose otherworldly athleticism would allow him to impact games in transition, on the glass, and on the defensive side of the ball. Most players improve their jump shot year to year and with him needed a freshman season I’m sure he could take his slightly below average jumper to at least average or maybe even above average and for a player who has his explosiveness, even an average jump shot would make him deadly. If his jump shot improved a good deal I could even see Florida using him at the 3 but within Coach White’s offense he’s probably a 4 and that would create all kinds of mismatches.
I know taking a true transfer that needs to sit out is not ideal for a team that could use two instantly eligible players but taking a player who might be the best athlete in college basketball could definitely be worth it. Add in that not only is he one of the best athletes in college basketball but he actually already has a good skill set, he’s not a raw project such as similar athlete Yves Pons at Tennessee who couldn’t stay on the floor. Taking Duruji wouldn’t be a gamble in my mind and I think he is guaranteed to give the Gators excellent production if he comes. We should know a bit more about the situation after his visit but this is definitely something to keep an eye on.