Florida Gators 2020 Center Outlook
With Kerry Blackshear Jr. moving on from the program after transferring from Virginia Tech last season as a graduate transfer, the Florida Gators will be looking elsewhere where the center position is concerned.
As a team that tried to run their offense through the big man inside last season, the loss of Blackshear there may take an adjustment. However, considering the positions play from a physicality and board crashing perspective, the performance overall will likely improve from last season.
With two young pieces occupying the center position for the Gators basketball in 2020, let’s dive into the outlook for the five-spot in the upcoming season.
Florida Gators Center Outlook
Seeing nearly 15 minutes of action on average in 30 games last season, Omar Payne put together some promising performances as a true freshman. Averaging 3.8 points per game, the offensive efficiency from Payne lacked at times, but his most significant impact came crashing the boards.
Displaying a long and athletic figure—standing 6-foot-10, 223-pounds—Payne averaged 3.6 rebounds per game last season and just over four a game when playing in the O’Connell Center.
As he continues to progress in his skillset entering his sophomore season, more performances like his 19 points and 11 rebound outing against the fourth-ranked Auburn are bound to occur. With that, Florida is in a spot going forward with Payne leading this position into the future.
As the second string center for a group that is relatively thin at the position, the six minutes per game Jason Jitoboh saw last season could be seeing a sharp increase in 2020.
Like Payne’s, Jitoboh is entering his second season in the orange and blue. However, as someone who has seen minimal in-game action, what the Gators can get out of Jitoboh is up in the air.
Possessing a large frame at 6-foot-11, 285-pounds, the Nigerian native is a traditional center in the way he can protect the rim defensively and finish at the bucket offensively.
The center position could be the most concerning spot for the Gators in 2020.
With an abundance of versatile playmakers at the forward position, the center position includes a mix of inexperience and lack of depth in the frontcourt.
However, despite the questions surrounding it, the upside is there and could be the difference between a good and great season for the Gators in a critical year for head coach Mike White to put together tallies in the win column.