In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. In 2019, six of the top 10 NBA draft picks were one-and-done, and eight of the 14 lottery picks overall. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond. Just look at last year’s group of rookies we profiled: Tre Jones, Ashton Hagans, Jalen Smith and Devon Dotson lead a whopping 12 former 2018 five-stars back for a sophomore season.
With all of that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball for 2019–20 and breaking down the impact those players could have. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. Next up are the No. 7 and No. 22 overall recruits, Florida's Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann. You can view all of the profiles to date here.
What They Mean for Florida’s Recruiting Class
Five-star Scottie Lewis (No. 9) is the centerpiece of a top-10 recruiting class that also includes five-star guard Tre Mann (No. 22) and four-star Montverde Academy big man Omar Payne (No. 46) along with three stars Jason Jitoboh (No. 301), a center, and point guard Ques Glover (No. 407). The incoming freshmen sit at No. 8 nationally in the recruiting class rankings, marking Mike White's highest-ranked class at Florida since he took over the program in 2015. The most immediate impacts are expected from the team’s five-star backcourt duo—Lewis and Mann—who headline a third-consecutive top-20 class for Florida. The Gators also landed the hottest grad transfer on the market in former Virginia Tech big man Kerry Blackshear Jr. this offseason. That trio of newcomers serve as the face of Florida’s metamorphosis, bringing an influx of talent to a largely re-tooled team.
How They Fit
Florida lost three of its top four scorers in KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson and Kevarrius Hayes and returned a total of just four players who saw the floor a season ago—rising sophomores Andrew Nembhard, Keyontae Johnson and Noah Locke and reserve post player Dontay Bassett. However, the Gators picked up a ton of talent this offseason, which means a step back isn't likely in store. Florida has options all across the floor and one of the nation’s best and most experienced big men, Blackshear Jr., an top-50 prospect Payne to lock down the paint, but it's particularly blessed in the backcourt, where White has a ton of talented options at his disposal.
Florida brings back Nembhard, the presumed starter at point, and Locke, who was second on the team in scoring last season. Then it brings in Mann and Lewis, along with three-star floor general Glover, who could potentially redshirt given the availability of both Nembhard and Mann at the point. Each newcomer brings a unique skillset, starting with 6’5”, 185-pound Lewis. The McDonald’s All-American leans on a game that places high value on defense and boards, boasting an unselfishness and versatility developed while he played everything from the low post to small forward in high school. The Hazlet, N.J. native is explosive, notably athletic and fits a pretty prototypical wing mold aside from his outside shooting, which needs to improve. He’s an underrated passer and talented rebounder on both offense and defense, due to both his long arms and unrelenting style of play. He’s spent the summer in Gainesville working on his jumpshot and improving his range, and while his shooting is developing, Lewis shouldn’t be expected to be a game-changing scorer. He’s a great get for the Gators as a very well-rounded and hard-working player, but his biggest contributions will come from elsewhere on the floor.
Mann, meanwhile, is a lanky 6’4”, 175-pounder loaded with potential. Another McDonald’s All-American, Mann brings both range and the ability to facilitate to Florida as a skilled scoring point guard. The Gainesville native led The Villages to a 23–8 record and an appearance in the state semifinals after averaging 23.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game his senior season. He’s quick and handles the ball well. He’ll help fill some of Florida’s scoring void this season as a he can shoot from distance, is also highly effective from mid-range and is a fantastic finisher. His floaters and jumpers are as good as his vision and passing ability and he’s not afraid of the paint. He does, however, need to work on his shot selection and develop defensively. He’s got potential in regards to the latter but needs to put on some mass and get stronger to excel at stopping more physical opponents.
Assuming Nembhard starts at point, White has to find a way to get Mann minutes with Lewis and Locke both also slated for serious playing time at the wing, which means those four will likely be used in a number of rotations. White will likely prioritize putting his best players on the floor in a variety of more flexible lineups. Nembhard is a more traditional point guard than Mann so he should spend his time exclusively at the one-spot for Florida, while Mann’s ability to shoot and operate off the ball gives him the ability to play at the two-guard position. There’s also room available for Mann to get some playing time on the perimeter, where Locke and Lewis will also slot in. Locke split time last season off the bench between the two slots and should do so this season as well alongside Lewis. Lewis could also play the four with Johnson when they play small, as the Gators did a decent amount last season. Florida has a lot of flexibility in the backcourt and on the wing, which White will certainly toy with this season.
Importance to Florida's Success/Team Outlook
This year’s newcomers are a talented bunch with plenty of potential on both sides of the floor, but with a roster of a few equally-as-talented returners ready to step up and the arrival of in Blackshear Jr., they won’t have to replace all the production lost from last season on their own. Lewis, Mann and Blackshear definitely up expectations in Gainesville for this season. White’s squad could seriously contend in a stacked SEC this season after arguably adding more talent to his team this season than any other program in the country–this offseason, the Gators getting the biggest grad transfer on the market to join one of the country’s most talented recruiting classes. A Final Four appearance wouldn’t be a surprise for Florida as this crew could bring the Gators back into the national conversation.