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Todd Golden: Gators PF Alex Fudge ‘The Definition of an Impactful Player’

Gators head coach Todd Golden and Florida veterans extend high praise to power forward Alex Fudge ahead of his sophomore season.

Photo: Alex Fudge; Credit: Zach Goodall

The Gators' activity in the transfer portal this offseason saw Florida make vital additions to retool the roster for the upcoming season.

This new way of roster building is indicative of the style Todd Golden and Co. will utilize to return the Gators to a state of success under their tutelage, mixing young high school talent with veteran portal talent to maintain experience and depth at all times.

In year one, Florida found success with this method, securing high-upside guards Kyle Lofton and Trey Bonham as well as wing Will Richard from mid-major schools to bolster the unit. However, the most notable portal landing is the return of a former top-60 player to his home state after a short stint in Baton Rouge with LSU.

Alex Fudge, a Jacksonville (Fla.) native, heads back home to give the Gators much-needed energy and explosiveness to the frontcourt. Fudge earned high praise from his head coach and teammates for what he brings to the table on both ends of the floor.

"He's the definition of an impactful player, especially defensively," Golden said during media availability on Tuesday. "He does some things in terms of getting deflections, blocks, steals that I haven't seen as a coach. So he gives you a lot of flexibility in how you want to guard things.

"He just impacts the game in a lot of winning ways."

Standing at 6-foot-9, pushing 200 pounds and equipped with an over 7-foot wingspan, Fudge offers a unique mismatch on the defensive end. That luxury for Florida comes from his ability to guard 1-through-5, disrupt passing lanes as an off-ball or help defender and consistently challenge shots at the rim.

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"He can switch on a point guard and you don't feel like you're in bad shape," Golden explained. "Obviously, he's not super big, but he's quick and long and that allows him to guard some bigger guys as well. He just covers mistakes. That's how I feel he can impact winning right away."

Projected starting point guard Lofton shared that Fudge's prowess as a rebounder and shot blocker is notably impressive.

That aspect of his game was evident in the first practice of the preseason on Tuesday as he opened up the intra-team scrimmage session by pinning Niels Lane's layup attempt on the glass, resulting in a score by fellow frontcourt member Colin Castleton at the block on the opposite end. 

In Castleton's eyes, Fudge's emergence bodes well for the Florida frontcourt.

"He's super athletic; he's super raw," Castleton said. "He has a lot to get better at, too, but I feel like he, he can shoot the ball for his size, he's super tall and he can block shots.

"So, I think we have a lot of upside and just being able to put those pieces together and being able to mesh well with him in the frontcourt is gonna be huge for us going into when the season starts in November, so I'm excited."

On the offensive end, Golden wants Fudge to take the next step as a shooter to round out his dynamic skillset. With the makings of a dominant stretch four, Fudge has shown the necessary growth in consistency there since he arrived on campus this summer to reach his high ceiling with the University of Florida.

"He's real active on the boards, offense and defense, but he also can pop and shoot. He can put it on the floor," guard Myreon Jones said when asked about the impact Fudge can have on success. "Ever since he's been here, [his shooting has] been a surprise to me."

Unlike in years past, the Gators won't be limited to just one impact player to make a difference on either end of the floor. Between returning stars from a season ago — Castleton and Kowacie Reeves Jr. — and transfers Lofton and Fudge, Florida isn't lacking the playmakers necessary to meet Golden's expectations of a tournament run on 2022-23.

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