The Florida men’s basketball team will have to adjust, and fast.
The regular season is set to begin in just over two months, with the first game tipping off on Nov. 13 against Gardner-Webb.
In the meantime, the Gators must find immediate impact players on a roster with more new faces than veterans. Of the 13 players on the roster, seven of them have yet to experience live action in the O’Connell Center.
That puts pressure on Mike White, who maximized his players’ potential in 2016-17 on the way to the Elite Eight. It also puts some weight on the shoulders of the remaining veterans.
Who will take over the role as Alpha Dog?
The Gators dealt with a few major departures this offseason after just one in 2015 with Dorian Finney-Smith.
Florida graduated guard Kasey Kill along with forward Justin Leon and center Schuyler Rimmer. Forward Devin Robinson declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season and ended up going undrafted before signing a two-way contract with the Washington Wizards in July. Canyon Barry, playing as a graduate transfer, had his NCAA eligibility run out. The Gators also lost a young guard prospect in Eric Hester because he transferred to Akron.
Those are some big gaps to fill, and UF will look for its remaining veterans to take on much larger roles.
Junior guard KeVaughn Allen, who averaged a team-high 14 points per game on 43.8 percent shooting, will have to take on an even bigger scoring role as well as more ball-handling opportunities.
His backcourt partner, senior point guard Chris Chiozza, has always had played over 20 minutes in each of his three seasons. However, he always complemented Hill, and now has to take a step up to compensate for a roster that features many inexperienced guards.
Perhaps the biggest hype surrounds second-year players Keith Stone and Gorjok Gak.
Stone showcased strength and a soft shooting in limited action last year. As the Gators look to replace Leon, Stone looks like he can fill that void. Now it’s about developing consistency, as Stone averaged just 3.6 points per contest along with 32.6 percent from three-point range.
Gak became a part of the rotation late last season and exhibited improvement in the World University Games in Taiwan this summer, playing for Australia.
With redshirt senior center John Egbunu out until January at the earliest, UF will need a second-line anchor in the middle behind starter Kevarrius Hayes.
UF will need a big jump from at least two of these players in order to replace lost production.
What about the newbies?
Florida’s roster will get its main jolt from a couple transfers, as well as a plentiful recruiting class.
Guard Jalen Hudson spent last year with the Gators, but couldn’t see action due to transfer regulations. In his first two years at Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-6 guard averaged 7.7 points against ACC competition and will be a solid defensive piece in a small defensive backcourt.
Graduate transfer Egor Koulechov comes over from Rice, where he was the team’s second leading scorer with 18.2 points per contest and a deadly shooter from distance. Listed as a guard, Koulechov surpassed the positions expectations with 8.9 boards per game, good for fourth in the Conference USA.
Apart from those two, five freshmen join the fray.
Florida’s highest-touted freshman is forward Isaiah Stokes, who ranked 60th in the 2017 class according to ESPN. Stokes tore his ACL during his final high school campaign and won’t play until January, with a possible redshirt year on the table.
The remainders of the group will have the opportunity to play. But as Mike White has shown before, it’s more about accountability on defense than offensive prowess that gets young players time on the court.
Redshirt freshman forward Dontay Bassett has seen the most practice time, while true freshman wing Chase Johnson and guards Mike Okauru and Deaundrae Ballard will have to adjust to the collegiate level.
If nothing else, fans will be waiting to see what possible gems the Gators have found through recruiting.