Florida’s roster for the 2021-22 season has largely been finalized but there is still some room for potential tinkering and improvement.
Right now the team is cautiously optimistic that Keyontae Johnson will be available to play, and there is an expectation that Colin Castleton will withdraw from the NBA Draft. If both of those players were to return, the Gators would have one open scholarship. Of course, anything changing with Johnson or Castleton would open up more space.
The last remaining scholarship hasn’t been an easy one for the Gators to fill. With veteran players in the transfer portal, playing time is usually one of the biggest things they’re looking for. Florida would love to get some depth at point guard or center or get a proven wing, but with the returning and incoming talent they have already landed there isn’t a clear roadmap to any transfer getting a huge role. For that reason, the Gators haven’t been able to get much traction with quality transfers.
Florida has actually started looking a bit at the 2021 class again, possibly looking for raw, underrated prospects that they could develop and maybe even redshirt. That could be a good long-term plan in terms of roster building, but is unlikely to help them much in the upcoming season.
While it might seem like most of the best transfers on the market have made their decisions a long time ago, there are still a number of talented players in the portal that could help the Gators immensely. The longer it goes into the process the more these players could be getting desperate for a good landing spot and they might concede some projected minutes to join an experienced group like the Gators.
It’s unknown how much the Gators are still pursuing established college veterans, but if they are looking to fill their final spot with a quality transfer here are some of the best names left on the market.
Florida would love to have some more dynamic pieces in the frontcourt and Tyrn Flowers is just that at 6’9”. Flowers can float between the center and power forward position and at either spot he’s productive. Averaging 17.3 points and 8.1 rebounds last year he’s a proven stat sheet stuffer and he also brings a skill not many big men have–playmaking. LIU Brooklyn played through him a bunch on the offensive end and he came away with 3.6 assists per game, making him an interesting option to invert an offense. He’ll bring versatility and proven production wherever he goes.
A scoring guard originally from Toronto, Canada the undersized 5’11” spark plug had a huge offensive season last year scoring 18.2 points per game. His size and lack of athleticism might be an issue at the high major level but he’s a legit scorer who went 36.6% from the three-point line and he could provide some scoring punch wherever he goes. He might not be in the typical high major point guard mold but he’d be an intriguing piece off the bench.
Florida has already recruited Alterique Gilbert once in the transfer portal when he was leaving UConn last summer and they’d be wise to go after him again. He is exactly the type of point guard Mike White likes, a shorter, speedy, physical guard that can pressure the basketball and set the tone defensively. Gilbert was a McDonald’s All-American who had major injuries that slowed down his career, and he has never developed a three-point shot but has always been a great floor general and an outstanding defender (remind you of Kasey Hill, much?). He’ll be in his sixth year of college so competing for a starting point guard role might not be his vibe but the Gators should certainly inquire.
Smith wasn’t available to play last season due to health issues but he was a reliable center the year prior averaging 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in 2019-20. He’s got legit size at 6’11” and while he isn’t an absurd athlete or a monstrous scoring presence he’s a stout defender and a capable scorer. Considering he wasn’t able to play last year his health is still a question mark but he might not be looking for a starting role given his circumstance and the Gators could potentially land an under the radar gem.
The Gators already have CJ Felder from Boston College and his frontcourt mate Steffon Mitchell is available, so maybe Florida could go ahead and land him too. Mitchell is an ACC veteran who started most of the games in his four years at Boston College, meaning he has a lot of quality reps against elite competition. At 6’8” and 220 he doesn’t have great size and he isn’t someone who is going to score a lot (9.1 points per game) but he’s a savvy defender and a tireless rebounder (7.3 per game) and with tons of ACC experience you know what he’d be if he came to the SEC. Would he take a bench role with the Gators? Maybe, maybe not, but getting a veteran like that with your final roster spot would be a great addition in my books.
This is a player that the Gators reached out to months ago and while he mentioned them as a possibility it seems like might have fallen out of contention. However, that was a long time ago. For him to not have made his decision going to one of the other schools he was looking at, anything could be on the table and Florida could be back in the mix. Morsell is a bit of a unique player. He’s a solid 6’5” with long arms and looks like a wing, but offensively plays like a point guard. Shooting struggles have plagued him his whole career, but he’s an effective passer and table setter. Defensively he has been as good as it gets in the Big 10 the last few seasons and he has been an all-league defensive player and a Big 10 defensive player of the year. How he would fit on Florida’s roster isn’t 100% clear but he’d give them more ball handling options and provide high-level defense.
If you want physicality and size in the frontcourt, the best option in the portal right now is TCU’s Kevin Samuel. 6’11”, 255 pounds, and with a love for contact, he’s a bruiser at the center position. Samuel is limited offensively to offensive rebounds and drop off passes for dunks, but he does those things really well. The biggest negative on that end is that he is a 40% free throw shooter, something that can limit his ability to be on the floor at the end of tight games, but that might not be an issue if Florida were to get him to play behind Colin Castleton. While there may be some frustration at times on the offensive end he’s a wall on defense and a dominating rebounder (7.8 per game) and you know he can compete at the high major level.
Arguably the best player in the portal, Mitchell is an absolute star in the frontcourt. The 6’9”, 240 pound center has high major size and high major skill that dominated the Atlantic 10 on his way to averaging 18.8 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Minutemen. Mitchell was actually a top 100 prospect coming out of high school so he isn’t someone who exploded out of nowhere, so he has played with and against elite players for most of his basketball career. Mitchell gets it done on the inside with great hands and footwork and he gets it done on the outside with a 37.5% three-point stroke, making for an all-around offensive threat. As one of the best players in the portal he’ll be able to play pretty much anywhere, and right now the Gators don’t have a great sell for minutes if Castleton was to return. However, if Castleton did go pro then Florida should have a great pitch to Mitchell and they should go after him relentlessly.