Things keep moving on the recruiting trail for Florida and on Thursday morning a pair of St. Bonaventure transfers, point guard Kyle Lofton and big man Osun Osunniyi, made it known on social media that they were in Gainesville for a visit.
Florida’s interest in Kyle Lofton was already known, but news of the Osun Osunniyi interest hadn’t been made known yet. Florida actually had gotten in touch with a third St. Bonaventure player, shooting guard Jaren Holmes, but he has already announced a commitment to Iowa State.
Package deals rarely work out in college basketball recruiting, but that mostly extends to high school recruiting. With the one-time transfer waiver era still in its infancy it’s yet to be seen if luring duos of players from one school to another is a viable exercise, and right now the Gators are doing what they can to see if they can land the impact pair of Bonnies.
I have already written about Lofton and why he’s an attractive target, and if you haven’t already read that you can do so here.
Osun Osunniyi is the player of interest for today’s article as a frontcourt piece that could complete Florida’s rotation of big men. Florida has spent much of the transfer portal period searching for a big to solidify their frontcourt and if they were to do so with Osunniyi they’d instantly have one of the best center rotations in the country.
Many of the bigs the Gators have gone after have been younger players but Osunniyi is actually an experienced veteran who just completed his fourth season at St. Bonaventure where he started in 93 of his 111 career games.
When it comes to Osunniyi’s game, it’s all about defense.
For starters, Osunniyi stands at 6’10” and 220 pounds, but that doesn’t tell the whole story about his physical makeup. He has a reported 7’8” wingspan, something immediately apparent when you lay eyes on the big man and see his fingertips seemingly hanging down by his knees. With that length, he has become one of the premier shot blockers in basketball averaging 2.9 blocks per game last season, just higher than his career average of 2.7 blocks per game over a four year span.
Even more impressive than his raw block numbers are his block rate, the percentage of two-point shots he blocks while on the floor. Here is where he ranked nationally in block rate over his four year career:
Simply put, there has been no more productive shot blocker in college basketball over the last four seasons. For a defensive minded coach like Todd Golden you often want to build your defense from the inside out, and if he were to have Osunniyi in addition to Colin Castleton (who was 55th in the country in block rate, for comparison) he would know he’d have 40 minutes of quality rim protection.
One potential issue in the recruitment of Osunniyi is that he will be in his final year of college basketball which means playing behind Castleton might not be what he’s looking to do. However, when the Gators were recruiting Johni Broome they were selling him on a role next to Castleton, so Florida is almost certainly going to do the same with Osunniyi.
Defensively Osunniyi is a monster who controls the paint and is also a stout rebounder (7.5 boards per game). He is light on his feet and has a good vertical leap, and factoring in that length you can see why he is a menace defensively. However, offensively he is somewhat limited, which would further make the fit next to Castleton a bit strange.
It isn’t to say Osunniyi is a bad offensive player, as he averaged 11.3 points per game last season–he’s just not particularly versatile. Osunniyi is largely a dump off man, someone who gets dunks off of passes from his driving guards. He’s also dominant on the offensive glass, another way to generate layups and dunks. However, he isn’t a shooter (he only took seven mid-range jumpers and two threes last season) and he’s a below-average post up scorer. When playing at center he’s a perfect role player–someone that’s content to set screens and roll hard to the rim and then battle on the offensive glass when an opponent’s shot goes up. However, it’s not a very projectable skillset next to Castleton on the offensive end.
Even though the fit next to Castleton is clunky, he’s a high major player at this point in his career and may be willing to sacrifice some minutes to play at a school like Florida.
If the Gators were able to land Osunniyi, you can mark down the Gators for a much better defense than their 77th rank in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric–even if Osunniyi isn’t playing a ton of minutes. He’d be a valuable, experienced piece and you can see why Golden has made him a target.
Earlier in the article I mentioned that people love to talk about package deals in college basketball but they rarely happen. If ever a time, Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi could be the one. They’re both from New Jersey, and went to the same high school (Putnam Science Academy). They then spent four years together at St. Bonaventure. If there is a pair of players that wants to keep playing together, it could very well be this one.