Gators Player Profile: What is the Next Step for Scottie Lewis?
The season wasn't exactly as planned, and neither was Scottie Lewis.
The Gators weren't nearly as good as cracked up to be. The preseason No. 6 ranking seemed like merely a joke by the time the coronavirus ended the 2019-20 season.
And in some ways, Lewis seemed like a personification of the year that was Florida basketball. He came in with tons of hype, thought to be a program-changing player. It was evident as the season wore on that at least in 2019-20, that was not the case.
Statistically, Gator fans probably expected more from the five-star than 8.5 points per game, 3.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists.
But was that fair?
The Eatontown, New Jersey native was the No. 1-ranked small forward in the country, and the No. 1 prospect out of his state, according to 247 Sports. And if you don't buy into rankings, his highlight tape speaks for itself:
Clearly, Lewis is a special athlete. Not many guys have his type of bounce and explosion, in any sport. However, Lewis was incredibly raw offensively.
He simply wasn't ready to be a 20 points-per-game guy like fans may have expected. But was he ready to defend elite college players the second he put on an orange and blue jersey?
Look at this clip of him guarding Florida State's junior guard M.J. Walker. It's a third-year player going against Lewis, only playing in his second college basketball game ever. Not only does Lewis agitate Walker, like great defenders are so good at, but he picks and chooses his time to swipe at the ball like a veteran.
And as the season went on, Lewis improved offensively. It became evident that the talent was always there, he just needed time.
He just needed to suffer through some growing pains, like so many great players do, to finally make it comfortable. The biggest issue with Lewis it seemed early on, was that he was too explosive for his own good.
His freakish athleticism was at an entirely different level than his decision-making and ball-handling, resulting in a lot of mistakes and poor shots.
However, like a tough math problem in school, when things began to click for Lewis, they really clicked.
It is so unknown right now as to what multiple players at Florida will choose to do next season. Lewis, point guard Andrew Nembhard and forward Keyontae Johnson could all potentially declare for the NBA, or stick around.
However, for Lewis especially, it seems that another year in Gainesville would do him immeasurable good on the offensive end of the floor. Yes, he began to look much more comfortable with the ball in his hands towards the end of the year, but it was only for a few games.
He could benefit from more time in college and more time being relied on, on that end. With forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. set to depart as a senior - barring an eligibility extension which the NCAA will vote on for winter and spring sports on March 30th - there will be less room to run the offense through a big man. Guys like Lewis will need to create more shots for themselves off the dribble. He will also need to just simply make more shots.
The NBA is an outside-in league. Teams usually rely on guards and forwards to make perimeter shots to spread the floor so that everything else can work off of that. Lewis can become that, he just will need more time.