Florida’s 2022-23 roster just started to take a lot more shape as transfer point guard Trey Bonham announced that he’d be transferring to the Gators.
Bonham comes from Virginia Military Institute, a Southern Conference team that historically lives in the basement of the league standings due to the difficulties in recruiting to a military school. However, the last two seasons were largely successful including finishing fifth this past season, and a large part of it was the play of Bonham.
VMI’s improvement was largely on the offensive side of the ball and last year they finished the season 45th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric, a truly incredible feat for a military academy in the SoCon. For reference, the Gators were 47th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Bonham was the quarterback of this offense, and with his success completely turning the VMI offense around you can see why high major teams were interested.
Bonham finished the season averaging 13.6 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.4 rebounds, a well-rounded contributor who was considered a leader for the Keydets. Even more impressive than his raw rebounding numbers is his rebounding rate which was 94th in the country, a good replacement for Tyree Appleby who was 126th in the country in this metric. Many of these assists came out of the pick and roll where Bonham was truly elite. Bonham was in the 97th percentile nationally when it came to pick and roll offense, and with VMI being one of the heaviest pick and roll usage teams in the country Bonham was able to hone his craft while providing consistent results.
When it came to Bonham scoring himself out of the pick and roll he was in the 91st percentile nationally.
When it came to pick and rolls where he passed out to a teammate he was in the 98th percentile nationally.
This is where Bonham’s game is projectable to the high major level. The highest level of college basketball is often a pick and roll game and his excellence in this area is why Todd Golden and his staff targeted him.
Bonham is also a good fit around the nucleus of talent that the Gators already have. He’s largely a pass-first point guard and he will first look to get his teammates involved before hunting his own shot.
If he does hunt his own shot he is mostly looking to get into the paint where he can finish with a crafty array of layups. Bonham is only 6’0” and 170 pounds, perhaps one of the negatives to his high major projection, but despite being undersized he is rather fearless when attacking the rim. Known for his creative finishes at the rim he demonstrates outstanding body control and touch while contorting around shot blockers and spinning the ball off the backboard to find the bottom of the net, often while drawing fouls.
From the outside Bonham is a capable shooter but not yet an elite one. He’s a career 37% three-point shooter, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Averaging under 3 attempts per game he will often take only wide-open threes, but he has converted those at a pretty good rate. Off the dribble he has shown some nice touch in the midrange, and he hit 83% from the free throw line last season which should allow Florida fans a sigh of relief when it comes to thinking about late game scenarios.
Todd Golden has mentioned that he wants to play fast, and Bonham is the perfect point guard for that style of offense. VMI is perennially one of the fastest teams in college basketball and Bonham was a perfect facilitator in their up-tempo attack. Bonham is confident in his ball handling ability at full speed and will drive the ball until he’s stopped, which often means collapsing a defense and finding an open shooter.
One area for improvement for Bonham will be the defensive end where he often struggled as an undersized player in a league with big, physical guards, something that will also be the case in the SEC. VMI was rather disastrous on the defensive end (316th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric) so there wasn’t much to insulate Bonham, but his struggles on the perimeter didn’t do much to help the overall defensive structure.
After completing just his second year at VMI, and with the first year not counting towards his eligibility, Florida might have a major program piece that could provide multiple years of point guard play. This could very well be part of the reason that Golden went so hard after Bonham, an understandable move given how Bonham has already proved his ability to contribute.
A speedy, smooth passing, creative finishing point guard is the kind of player that could certainly win over a lot of Gator fans, and he has potential to be a fan favorite.
As Florida’s roster continues to take shape, they continue to look for another frontcourt piece, most notably targeting Morehead State’s Johni Broome who is currently one of the top players on the market.