Projected Starters for Florida Basketball's Exhibition Against Lynn
The No. 6 Florida Gators' men's basketball team is set to tip-off their season exhibition-style tomorrow night at home against Lynn University.
The Gator's projected starters are as follows.
Point Guard - Andrew Nembhard
Nembhard is entering his second year as UF's offensive general. The gifted passer tested the NBA Draft waters at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season, but did not have any legitimate stock.
So, a top facilitator in the country will be at the helm for the Gators. The Ontario, Canada, native who also plays for the Canadian national team, needs to show improvement this season in his outside shooting to be a complete point guard, but otherwise he is a top PG in college basketball.
Shooting Guard - Noah Locke
With the return of Nembhard and Keyontae Johnson, paired with the arrival of freshman stars Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann and graduate-transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., Locke has been the forgotten key contributor to this team.
However, he might be quietly one of the most important. We see year after year how college teams live and die by the three-point shot. Locke was not supposed to be a significant contributor last season, but earned his way to a starting role.
His three-point percentage last season was 37.9 and he had six games with five threes or more, all while toughing out a groin injury. He is the only starter with a deadly outside shot, and his ability to create more floor space for Nembhard's passing lanes to guys like Lewis and Blackshear Jr. can lift Florida from a good team to a great one.
Scottie Lewis - Small Forward
Lewis, along with Blackshear Jr., were the two main pickups this off-season. The Eatontown, New Jersey, native plays in-between a shooting guard and small forward. Florida will need him to play bigger at the three since Locke is purely a guard. But Lewis is a potential lottery pick in next year's NBA draft, there is no reason he can't completely take over games at the college level right away.
Keyontae Johnson - Power Forward
Johnson showed flashes of brilliance last season. We have seen him play at a level that leads you to believe he could be a top player in the country. Playing the four at only 6'5, along with Lewis playing the three instead of the two, the starting five for the Gators is far from huge.
However, it is still bigger than last season and coach Mike White has proven how good of a coach he is defensively, and if this team has an Achilles heel, it will probably be on that end of the court. But, having a four in Johnson that shoots 36.5 percent from beyond the arc also means that you're probably going to score a lot of points.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. - Center
Perhaps nobody in college basketball got a bigger steal than the Gators did this offseason when Blackshear Jr. decided to leave Virginia Tech for Gainesville. he is the best center that UF has had since Joakim Noah.
He does it. He scores, he defends, he rebounds. The last game he played in was in the Sweet 16 against Duke, where he carried the Hokies to only lose to first-overall NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson and the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils by just two points.
Blackshear had a double-double in that game with 18 points and 16 rebounds. He also logged five assists. UF has not had even relatively close to that sort of production from a center since it was winning back-to-back national titles over a decade ago.
It has been said already, it will be said again. This team on paper is a final four squad. However, plenty of teams have been that talented on paper and then been sent packing early in the NCAA Tournament. But if the Gators impress defensively, and play even close to their potential offensively, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to beat anyone in the country on any given night.