Written by Spencer Reed
From Dorian Finney-Smith to Canyon Barry, Justin Leon and John Egbunu, over the past few years, the Gator basketball team has reaped the benefits of talented transfers entering the mix of Mike White’s already high-powered team.
With the upcoming season on the horizon, transfers Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov will look to provide valuable minutes to a team that is poised to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
After losing three starters in Kasey Hill, Devin Robinson and Justin Leon, as well as the 2016-2017 SEC Sixth Man of the Year in Canyon Barry, you’d think expectations would be low for the 2017-2018 season.
However, Mike White and the Gators are optimistic that returning players and offseason transfers will allow the team to perform just as well, if not better, than last year’s team.
“They want to be as good as they possibly can be as players and as a team,” Coach White said when asked about expectations for the upcoming season. “The run last year I think gave us a little bit more confidence in terms of what we’re doing and more buy-in.”
The process of “buying-in” is something that White harped on when speaking to the press on media day, especially with transfer Jalen Hudson.
Although only averaging 8.4 points and 2.3 rebounds a game as a sophomore at Virginia Tech, the lengthy guard flashed the ability to score during his time in Blacksburg. Hudson scored 23 points in a win over NC State and 27 points in a loss to Louisville.
“I would say pretty exciting,” said Hudson when describing his game. “I would say it’s definitely something to look forward to.”
Hudson, who sat out a year after transferring from Virginia Tech, said that he talked to Dorian Finney-Smith when weighing out his transfer options.
“Basically, he was just telling me how good of a place it is, how good the coaching staff is and how we can be successful here and the atmosphere,” Hudson said.
To complement the addition of a solid scorer, the Gators also added one of the nation’s top available graduate transfers in Egor Koulechov.
The 6-foot-5 guard began his college career at Arizona State before transferring to Rice for two seasons.
Koulechov averaged 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a game during his junior year at Rice. To go along with already stellar numbers, Koulechov also shot a staggering 47-percent from three-point range last year.
I guess it’s pretty easy to see where his nickname, 3gor, comes from.
Born in Russia and raised in Israel, Koulechov came to the United States as a junior and played his final two years of high school basketball at Sagemont in Weston, Fla.
“I keep saying it, but it’s true, it just felt right being back in Florida,” said Koulechov when asked what drew him to choose the Gators. “Obviously, Gainesville is a little bit different [than south Florida], but I still love it out here.”
It will be interesting to see how this team looks in the upcoming season. After losing two of three players who averaged double-digit scoring in Devin Robinson and Canyon Barry, Hudson and Koulechov will have big shoes to fill.
With a lot of hype around the offensive side of the ball, Mike White and his staff are trying to get the team to focus on the other side of the ball as well.
“If this team is as good defensively as last year’s team, we’ll be really good,” White said.