How Florida won college basketball’s offseason

SB Nation

Replacing a legend was never going to be easy for Mike White. Billy Donovan was the coach who changed everything at Florida, winning back-to-back national titles and altering the Gators’ perception from a football school with a basketball program to a legitimate national brand that annually threatened Kentucky’s reign in the SEC. Donovan still had it rolling when he jumped to the NBA, reaching three straight Elite Eights and one Final Four from 2011-2014 before leaving for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

White hit the ground running upon his arrival from Louisiana Tech, helping Florida win 27 games and leading another Elite Eight trip in his second year on the job in 2017. He’s followed that with back-to-back seasons with 20+ wins and trips to the NCAA tournament. The Gators haven’t taken a noticeable step back under White’s watch, but they also haven’t felt like one of the best teams in the sport, a place they occupied often under Donovan.

That could change next season.

There’s a case to be made that no program in America added more talent this offseason than Florida. The Gators already had the No. 7 overall recruiting class in the country before adding the biggest grad transfer on the market last month in big man Kerry Blackshear Jr. All the pieces are now in place for a top-10 team in the preseason polls with the potential to run all the way to the Final Four.

Blackshear is college basketball’s marquee free agent addition

Blackshear is one of the most productive big men in the country. He comes to Florida as a grad transfer from Virginia Tech, giving the Gators an interior anchor who can serve as the hub of the offense while also protecting the rim.

At 6’10, 250 pounds, Blackshear is an old-school big man who can overwhelm opponents on the low block. He was one of college basketball’s most efficient post scorers last season, finishing in the 90th percentile by scoring 1.043 points per possession on such opportunities. He doesn’t rely strictly on raw power, though. He’s able to leverage the threat of his inside scoring to become a dangerous passer who can find open shooters and hit cutters running to the basket.

#basketball, #college

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