The college basketball offseason has never been more alive than it is in 2021 and it’s not because of high school recruiting for future classes, it’s trying to land instant impact transfers that will help you in the fall.
Over 1200 players are currently in or have been in the transfer portal and by the time it’s all said and done it could very well be a third of all college basketball players that are in the portal. With that being the case, there is plenty of talent available for teams to bolster their roster and rebuild.
Florida has already reached out to a number of players and are starting to hone in on some names they would love to add to their group for the 2021-22 season. One of the names they’re going after the hardest right now is CJ Felder who just completed his second season with Boston College.
Hailing from Sumter, South Carolina Felder stands at 6’7” and weighs 230 pounds. He’s a true modern power forward in a day and age where those players are tough to come by, as seen by the fact Florida has struggled to fill that spot in the last couple of seasons outside of Keyontae Johnson. Having just completed his second year of college Felder looks physically developed, and carries his 230 pounds extremely well. You see that muscle going to work when he has to bang with the gargantuan frontcourts of the ACC, but he isn’t heavy footed or slow. In fact, he’s a great athlete that can hang in the air and finish when he needs to and his first step was tough for many opposing power forwards to keep up with.
Here were his stats last season:
61.7% Free Throw
Of all his statistical production the category that is likely to jump out at you is his blocked shots number and that’s for good reason. Felder is a fantastic rim protector from the power forward position, and for a Florida team that values those types of contributions you can see what Felder is so intriguing. What makes Felder special as an interior defender is that he has the length and leaping ability to contest shots up high, but he also has the strength to stay vertical and have drivers bounce off of him. This is an area Florida has been missing recently. Colin Castleton, Omar Payne, and Anthony Duruji all have the length and jumping ability to get to shots around the rim, but we saw them get pushed around at times and driven through by some of the more physical teams in the SEC. Felder has the strength and weight to absorb those hits and be stout on the interior and he has been a solid defender.
Opponents only shot 37.5% around the rim with Felder defending, and that number is nothing short of outstanding. The national average was 53% this season, so the fact that Felder was able to protect the rim at such a high level is fantastic. Not only was the percentage stellar, but he also got to contest a lot of shots which speaks to his ability as a help defender to rotate over to a threat and take it away.
Felder finished the season with an 8.1 block rate, good for 52nd nationally. With 100% of his minutes played as a power forward next to a true center, his ability to get to shots and swat them away is spectacular.
In switching situations Felder also handled himself really well on the perimeter. Like I said earlier he’s a big dude at 6’7” and 230 pounds but sometimes watching him you would never know he was that heavy. There is a gracefulness to the way he can move and he was more than comfortable switching out to guards and hanging with them for a few dribbles. Isolation attempts by guards nearly always failed, as he allowed opponents to only shoot 22.5% in those situations. Getting it done on the interior or perimeter, Felder is a rock solid defensive player who can help teams in a number of areas.
There has been an area of basketball that Florida has struggled mightily in during the Mike White era and it’s a place where Felder could really help them.
Last season the Gators were 275th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. The year prior they were 150th, the best mark in the last six seasons. Prior to that they were 313th, then 256th, 193rd, and lastly 162nd. So, taking care of the glass has not been one of Florida’s strengths, but if they were to land CJ Felder he could drastically change the complexion in that area.
Felder had a 19.8% defensive rebounding rate for Boston College, one of the best marks among high major players. As a reference point, Tre Mann led the Gators in this area at 16.8%, just higher than Colin Castleton ast 16.7%. So, Felder would be projected to come in and easily be Florida’s best defensive rebounder if he were to choose Florida.
It’s also worth noting that these weren’t easily collected rebounds against mediocre competition. If you know anything about ACC basketball you know that it’s a league where a bunch of teams play two supersized bigs at once, and they all crash the backboard with reckless abandon. Here are some teams from that league and their national rank in offensive rebounding percentage:
North Carolina (1st)
Florida State (19th)
With that being the case, Felder’s defensive rebounding numbers look legit and for that reason you can see why Florida would be interested.
Felder’s offensive rebounding numbers aren’t great, but that has more to do with Boston College’s style of play. They don’t like to go hard after the offensive glass, and instead focus on getting back in transition and not giving up transition opportunities. Considering Felder’s size, length, and his ability to defensive rebound, it’s likely he would be a plus offensive rebounder at Florida.
Offensily Felder is someone who plays within himself which allows him to be a fairly efficient scorer. He hit 59% of his two-point shots a year ago, which speaks to how many quality looks he got near the rim. For starters, Felder loves to run in transition and finish with authority at the rim. 24% of his shots came on the fast break, and he knew how to fill lanes to pressure defenses and make himself available for passes. Let’s also remember that he was their most key defensive rebounder, so it wasn’t like he was leaking out in transition. He was getting defensive rebounds, getting it to a guard, and then sprinting down the floor and often beating his man.
Felder also has some abilities to handle the ball, looking comfortable when attacking off the bounce. He had some great moments attacking off the dribble and hanging in the air before finishing, something that speaks to his athleticism.
Right now the three-point shot is still in the works but he has shown the ability to make them. Shooting almost four three-point attempts per game he has been working on adding that dimension, though so far he is only hitting 31.4% of those long balls. That’s something he’ll have to continue developing, but his stroke is improving and heading into his third year of college basketball that’s likely an area you’ll see improvement.
Felder is a versatile defender who also brings capable production on the offensive side. He’s going to be one of the best rebounders available, and he has proven that he can produce at the high major level. It’s also worth noting that he was able to have a good individual season with efficient numbers on a Boston College team that wasn’t very good and wasn’t efficient. Things weren’t set up for Felder to have great success, but he still found a way to have a really good season. Surround him with some better players in a system that he’s even more suited to and he could really break out.
It’s still early in the process and there are going to be a lot of high quality teams that will be in pursuit of Felder but I’m expecting the Gators to be in it right until the end. He has mentioned he likes Florida but with a lot of programs that will still reach out he’s certainly going to have a tough decision on his hands.
Florida would love to add a quality power forward and there are so few of them in college basketball and CJ Felder is right in that mould. This is definitely a transfer recruitment to keep a close eye on.