Pair of Former Florida Gators Find New Home

A pair of former Florida Gators basketball players have announced their next destinations after transferring from the program.
Florida Gators guard Riley Kugel
Florida Gators guard Riley Kugel / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
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Florida Gators guard Riley Kugel, who previously announced his intention to transfer to Kansas, will now play at SEC foe Mississippi State. Additionally, guard Julian Rishwain, who originally transferred to Florida from San Francisco, will take his talents to UNLV. 

Both players announced their decisions on Thursday afternoon within an hour of each other. 

Kugel joined the Gators as a four-star recruit in the class of 2022. In two seasons at Florida, he averaged 9.5 points a game while shooting just over 42% from the field. Following a breakout freshman campaign, Kugel struggled to find consistency during his sophomore season, which eventually led to him being benched for two games during the SEC Tournament. 

He entered the NCAA Transfer Portal on March 27. 

"First, I would like to thank God for all things. I'm thankful to all of Gator Nation for nothing but love and support over these past two years. It's been fun and I appreciate everyone who has supported me through thick and thin," Kugel wrote in his announcement.

"I will always be thankful for the bond I have built with my teammates in my freshman and sophomore years. Thank you to my family who has always supported me. Thank you to all of my coaches and special thanks to Coach Korey McCray for extra support on and off the court. With that being said, I will be entering the transfer portal.”

Four days later, he committed to Kansas, but Jayhawks’ head coach Bill Self commented that Kugel’s addition to the team was “up in the air,” following multiple reports.

Instead, Kugel will now play for Mississippi State, the team he was previously committed to prior to enrolling at Florida. The Gators and the Bulldogs will meet once next season in Starkville, Mississippi. 

Meanwhile, Rishwain will head to UNLV following one season with the Gators. Rishwain spent most of the season as a reserve with only 13 points in eight appearances. 

Prior to his stint in Gainesville, Rishwain played at San Francisco for three years, two of which were under now UF head coach Todd Golden, and spent his first season at Boston College. 

Kugel and Rishwain are two of three outgoing transfers following the 2023-2024 season. Forward Aleks Szymczyk, who did not make an appearance last season, entered the portal in April. 

The trio’s imminent transfers, along with the possibility of Will Richard and Walter Clayton Jr. remaining in the NBA Draft pool, leave Florida with open roster spots heading into the 2024-2025 season. 

The Gators recently added transfers Sam Alexis, Reuben Chinyelu and Alijah Martin and signed four-star guard Isaiah Brown in its high school class.

Should Richard and Clayton Jr. elect to return to UF, which they indicated would be the only school they would play for if they decide to stay in college, the Gators would have two open scholarships. 

Todd Golden shared his plans for those two scholarships in his end-of-season media availability. 

“If (Richard and Clayton Jr.) both come back, we'll definitely get one more in the frontcourt and maybe a younger guy in the backcourt or on the perimeter,” Golden said. “If one of those guys ends up staying in the draft, then we're going to have to adjust. So it's hard to really say today what those two other scholarships will be. But we're just going to be cognizant of what happens and try to get some contingency plans in place if we do end up having one of those guys move on to the NBA.”

Cam Parker


Cam Parker is a contributing writer at of FanNation-Sports Illustrated and is a recent graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. He also covers and broadcasts Alachua County high school sports with The Prep Zone and Mainstreet Daily News. When he isn't writing, he enjoys listening to '70s music such as The Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd, binge-watching shows and playing with his cat, Chester.