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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Notebook: Mike White ready for offseason challenges

<p>Devin Robinson attempts a shot during Florida's 88-79 loss to Kentucky on March 1, 2016, in the O'Connell center.</p>

Devin Robinson attempts a shot during Florida's 88-79 loss to Kentucky on March 1, 2016, in the O'Connell center.

Last summer, Mike White was focused on getting to know his players.

Twenty-one wins and 15 losses later, White finds himself heading into this offseason feeling confident that it will be more productive than last year's was.

With one season at Florida under his belt, the coach will be able to focus more on basketball and more on what his team and his players need to improve on.

But the offseason also means saying goodbye to departing players and welcoming new ones to the program.

White is ready to embrace it all.

"I feel like we’ve laid a foundation," White said. "We understand our guys a lot better. They understand my staff and I a lot better. Heading into this offseason, I think everybody is a lot more comfortable where we are than where it was about 11 months ago when I got here."

Devin Robinson testing NBA waters: White said on Monday that sophomore forward Devin Robinson is considering declaring for the NBA Draft. Robinson was home with his family last weekend, and White plans to meet with him this week to discuss his options.

Robinson improved his scoring average to 9.0 points per game this past season after averaging 6.4 per game as a freshman. His rebounds also improved from 2.8 per game as a freshman to 5.6 as a sophomore.

"I don’t blame him. Devin’s got a very high ceiling. He’s very talented," White said. "I don’t know whether he declares or not, but I think we’ll find out soon."

White said he supports any decision Robinson decides to make, but that the team would like Robinson to return for a third season.

"I’d like to continue coaching him," White said. "I think he’s got such a high ceiling, and I thought he made a very big jump this year. And I think he could make an equally as big, if not bigger jump next year."

Young core looking to develop: KeVaughn Allen’s breakout freshman season put a target on his back, one White said will only continue to grow as he gets older.

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Allen scored 11.6 points per game this season and proved himself as a legitimate scoring threat. But White said Allen’s shooting percentage and consistency still need to improve.

The freshman’s mental toughness will also need to strengthen, White said, as the young guard will take on an even larger role in next year’s offense as a primary scoring option. Not getting slowed down by changing defenses and being the focal point on offense will be a key to Allen’s development.

But White isn’t concerned with Allen’s ability to score.

"He’s a good shooter and he knows he’s a good shooter, and he’s focused right now on trying to become a great shooter," White said of Allen.

Meanwhile, John Egbunu is still recovering from thumb surgery. But once the redshirt sophomore returns to the court, White said this offseason will be extremely important for Egbunu’s growth and development.

Egbunu averaged 11.5 points per game this season along with 6.5 rebounds and showed promising signs in the post, but he’s still learning to perfect several aspects of his game, including post moves and paint defense.

"He understands that he’s got a chance to be one of the better big guys in this league and have a really big junior year," White said of Egbunu. "That’s certainly our expectation of him."

Additions and departures: Arguably White’s most hopeful project during the offseason will be redshirt freshman Keith Stone, a 6-foot-8 forward from Deerfield Beach. Stone took a redshirt and sat out this season, but White lauded the freshman’s progress and his skillset.

"Is he talented? Yes. Does he love the gym? Absolutely, more than any guy I know. He lives in the gym. Really skilled, can really score," White said. "…We expect big things out of him. I expect him to have a big freshman year."

As of now, Florida has just two 2016 signees: 6-foot-3 guard Eric Hester and 6-foot-8 forward Dontay Bassett, both from Oldsmar. As of now, the only departure from the roster, besides the senior class, will be redshirt junior DeVon Walker, who will transfer after he graduates this spring.

Contact Alex Maminakis at amaminakis@alligator.org and you can follow him on Twitter @alexmaminakis

Devin Robinson attempts a shot during Florida's 88-79 loss to Kentucky on March 1, 2016, in the O'Connell center.

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