Column: Scottie Lewis Will Be Florida's Best Player Next Season
As Michael Jordan said, the ceiling is the roof.
Florida freshman Scottie Lewis had an up and down first year at Florida. Here at SI-AllGators, this has been documented quite a bit. Prior to his decision to return to school, I wrote a story suggesting he do that very thing. Now, Lewis has made his decision, and that is to stay in Gainesville for another season.
This means that Lewis will be special. In fact, I believe that he can be the best Gator on the court in 2020-21. This is a bigger pull than any incoming freshman could possibly be. Head coach Mike White should be thrilled, here is why.
We already know that Lewis is a phenom defensively. He appeared limited throughout the year on the offensive end, but as a defender, he made plays like this.
This is eerily similar to Lebron James' block on Andre Iguodala in game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals. Lewis has this type of ability on the defensive end and he showed it all season long.
During Lewis' freshman campaign, White could comfortably place the freshman on the opponent's best guard or small forward. Barring any setbacks, he can consistently be this team's best defender next year.
Now, look at the offense.
Yes, he struggled this past year to put the ball in the basket and sometimes to contribute really at all on the offensive end. You don't love just 8.5 points per game from a five-star freshman.
But, do you love this?
This play sums up Lewis' potential. It sums up everything that he can be on that end of the floor. It also explains why he defends so well, he is on another level as an athlete.
His ball skills and shooting touch just need to catch up with his athleticism. Once he gets more deadly from three and deep twos, it will be nearly impossible for college players to guard him.
This is why, despite averaging less than 10 points a game, he occasionally exploded for 17, 18, 19 points. In games where his shot was falling, defenders had to guard him closer. Your average college player can't keep up with Lewis stride-for-stride to the hole if he is pressed up on him.
Watch this drive straight to the cup.
No. 3 for Arkansas, guard Desi Sills, comes out to get a hand up for Lewis's three. But once he gets close enough, Lewis blows by him with ease. Then, his bounce and finish takes care of the rest.
This is what happens when your opponent respects your jump shot. Entering an offseason with experience under his belt and with the college game slowing down to Lewis when the ball is in his hand, there is no reason that his shots will not fall more often.
Then, everything will open up. All the sudden, without defenders sagging off, that burst and first-step he has will be much more useful. The paint will be easier for him to penetrate, resulting in more layups, free throws, and assists.
All of this combined means Lewis has an incredibly high ceiling. It can mean the best player on the court. And more importantly, an incredibly special season for Lewis and the Gators.