Photo: Will Richard; Credit: Zach Goodall
There's an uncharacteristic buzz surrounding Florida basketball in the summer months.
Seeing drastic turnover occur from top to bottom — with head coach Mike White, his assistants and four starters departing from Gainesville — the University of Florida brought in San Francisco head coach Todd Golden to take over at the helm.
While a mass exodus usually indicates that significant time is needed to rebuild, all the right pieces have fallen into the right places. The changing of the guard at the top of the program can serve as the pivotal turning point needed to surge back from the distressing state of mediocrity experienced as of late.
In an effort to reconstruct the program to its former status of consistency and excellence achieved under Billy Donovan, Golden made it a focus to draw in talented transfers to fill the bevy of holes the roster presented.
Adding on to the promising members retained from 2021-22, the Gators have compiled a more-than-capable unit to take the floor next season.
The mixture of new and familiar faces slates them to reconcile the program sooner rather than later under the new leadership.
In anticipation of Golden's first season in charge, AllGators plans to profile the 12 scholarship players occupying spots on the roster as they look to accomplish that mission in the upcoming season. We will start by examining the backcourt and work into the frontcourt over the next few weeks.
A promising young career has begun to form for the under-recruited first-team all-state talent from Woodward Academy (Atlanta, Ga.).
His contributions to the Georgia state championship unit led to offers from Belmont, Drexel, North Alabama and Furman out of high school. Richard started his collegiate career fast as a one-year star for the Belmont Bruins in Nashville.
Playing in 33 games during as a freshman, Richard accounted for 12.1 points — on over 46% from the field and over 32% from beyond the arc — six rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals. His consistency as a scorer was an attention-grabbing aspect of his game as a true freshman.
He earned 2022 Ohio Valley All-Newcomer Team honors due to his contributions. His significant production in the Bruins’ NIT run resulted in Richard’s desire to see his available options via the transfer portal.
Following the season, he announced his decision to depart from Belmont, looking for an upgrade from the Ohio Valley. He was quickly contacted by a plethora of Power Six schools, becoming a coveted athlete in the transfer portal this offseason.
While the likes of Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech pursued the wing, Golden and the Gators pushed for his services, understanding the high-level talents and intangibles he could bring to the table in year one of the regime.
That relationship began to be built on the day of his entry into the portal, culminating in Richard visiting the University of Florida in early April.
Florida earned his pledge on April 9, solidifying the first of four transfers to make their way to Gainesville.
2022-23 Season Role/Projection
One of the strengths of the Florida Gators roster from both a talent and depth standpoint is at the shooting guard and small forward positions. Compiled of the likes of Kowacie Reeves Jr., Lane, Jones and even walk-on Alex Klatsky, Florida will see a healthy rotation of players at each spot.
That means Richard will come off the bench in his inaugural season at UF.
As of right now, Reeves holds firm control of the starting three spot as arguably the best player on the team for 2022-23. Jones, meanwhile, will slide in at the two spot to begin the year.
However, Golden has categorized Richard as a wing this upcoming season, providing some flexibility for the 6-foot-4, 206-pound to earn early playing time in his Gators career.
Equipped with an elite scoring prowess as well as the desirable length to be a consistent rebounder and a tough task for ball-handlers on the defensive end, Richard will make a splash off the bench for Florida, no matter the position he assumes.
While he may begin the season working in rotation off the bench due to the concentration of talent at the two and three spots, Richard has the game to carve out a vital role in the Florida attack as a team that will like to play nine or 10 players deep under Golden.
If that's the case, which it should be, the long, athletic guard will contribute significantly on both ends of the court, with his offensive prowess highlighting his game.
Able to knock down shots from anywhere on the court consistently, whether that comes from an on-ball or off-ball position, and push the ball out in transition, Richard will be a luxury that is too talented to sit for too long.
Golden understands that as someone who leans on analytics to maximize the lineup.
He's a depth piece in year one for Florida but has the frame and skillset that indicates a ceiling as a multi-year starter in orange and blue. Long-term, there's a path to the pros for Richard, given the physical intangibles he carries, if he continues to grow from his season against the heightened competition the SEC provides.
For more on Richard and his skillset, check out his AllGators scouting report.
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