The Florida women’s basketball season came to an end last Thursday in Greenville, South Carolina, with an 87-56 loss to Missouri in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
It concluded what was a mostly disappointing season for the Gators.
Just eight wins in 31 games. A 3-13 conference record. One road win all season.
Where does Florida go from here?
The team’s leading scorer, Funda Nakkasoglu, concluded her college career with the loss to Missouri. The guard’s 16.6 points per game this year was over six points better than fellow guard Delicia Washington, the team’s second-leading scorer.
Nakkasoglu also finished her career with the second-most three-pointers made in a season (84) in program history.
Nakkasoglu’s loss will be felt immediately, especially since the team will not have Washington to take over in her place.
Washington, a junior, announced via Twitter on March 11 that she plans to finish her college basketball career with another program.
Danielle Rainey is a guard who has the potential to take a step forward next season. Rainey was one of Florida’s top scorers after missing the early part of the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
She will almost certainly have a bigger role next year with Nakkasoglu and Washington gone. In addition to Rainey, guard Ariel Johnson and forward Zada Williams should also benefit from another year of experience.
The return of forward Kristina Moore, who missed the last 11 games this year with a left arm injury, should also bode well for UF. Moore, who will be a sophomore next season, was the only Florida player to start every game before her injury.
Perhaps more important than the players returning are the players soon to join. Coach Cam Newbauer garnered the most heralded recruiting class of his tenure with a quartet of four-star prospects. The class features two nationally ranked players (according to Prospects Nation) in guards Lavender Briggs and Brylee Bartram, in addition to guard Cavina Rickards and forward Faith Dut.
Briggs is the highest ranked of the bunch at No. 13 among guards and No. 53 overall.
Bartram, however, might be the most exciting prospect despite her lower ranking. The Seffner, Florida, native set the national record for most three-pointers made in a high school career (among boys and girls) in February with 521.
Her free-shooting mentality fits perfectly with a Newbauer offense that was second in the conference in three-pointers attempted this year, and she’ll be instrumental in filling the hole left by Nakkasoglu.
In two years as Florida’s coach, Newbauer’s record is 19-42. The Gators lose only Nakkasoglu to graduation, so Newbauer’s third campaign will be critical to their development.
“I’m proud of the growth we’ve shown this year,” Newbauer said in a release after the loss to Missouri. “I’m excited about what’s next for us.”
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the team with 16.6 points per game this season.