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Monday, March 04, 2024

Gators transfer portal report: Florida signs Jarvis, Handlogten

UF hosted a total of five players from portal so far in offseason

Florida head coach Todd Golden stands on the court during the Gators' practice the day before their Southeastern Conference tournament game Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Florida head coach Todd Golden stands on the court during the Gators' practice the day before their Southeastern Conference tournament game Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

The Florida Gators men’s basketball program continues to recruit players in the transfer portal to build UF’s 2023-2024 roster going into year two under head coach Todd Golden and his staff

The most highly touted transfer UF is targeting is Iona sophomore guard Walter Clayton Jr. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year was on Florida’s radar before his collegiate career began.

The Gators and other Power 5 schools heavily recruited him as a quarterback and wide receiver when he was at Lake Wales High School.

Clayton, a Bartow, Florida, native, transferred back to his hometown and attended Bartow High School — where he gained attention from schools like Notre Dame, Jacksonville, East Carolina, Iona and others as a basketball player.

The dual-sport athlete committed to the Iona Gaels and distinguished college basketball head coach Rick Pitino Oct. 5, 2020.

Since then, Clayton averaged 12 points, 2.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game through his two years with the Gaels.

Pitino gave the Floridian the keys to his offense and started Clayton in 31 of Iona’s 32 games last season. The 6-foot-2-inch guard elevated his game and led Iona with 16.8 points per game on its way to a MAAC championship and an appearance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament as a 13-seed.

Clayton entered the transfer portal March 21 and was immediately scouted by programs. Florida, St. Johns and seven other schools offered Clayton a spot on their team, according to On3.

Clayton did an official visit with the Gators March 24 and visited St. Johns April 6 according to New York Post sports reporter Zach Braziller. The two schools are considered to be his top destinations. 

Pitino, his former head coach, was hired to be the new head coach of the Red Storm March 20.

The sophomore guard is an electric player that plays with quickness when he attacks the basket and handles the ball with grace. Clayton also uses his speed to his advantage for open pull-up looks.

Clayton is an efficient 3-point shooter from both catch-and-shoot situations, and off the dribble. He finished the 2022-2023 season shooting 43.1% from the perimeter.

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If Clayton decides to sign with the Gators, he’ll join a team that finished last season with a 31.4% clip from 3-point range as a team. Clayton is expected to make his decision Tuesday, according to his Twitter.

UF is also in play for North Texas senior guard Tylor Perry — the Conference USA Player of the Year.

Perry is a 5-foot-11-inch guard that can take on opponents in isolation and finish at the rim. He averages 15.3 points per game and has shot 42.5% from the floor throughout his collegiate career.

Last season Perry led the Mean Green to their first National Invitational Tournament title in program history; he was named the 2023 NIT Most Outstanding Player.

As a member of the 2023 C-USA First Team All-Conference, Perry started in all 35 games for North Texas. Perry recorded 34.2 minutes, 16.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game — all career-highs.

Despite being an effective scorer, the Oklahoma native is also considered a facilitator.

One of Perry’s strengths is his ability to find passing lanes off pick-and-rolls by moving the ball and creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. Perry had a 12% assist rate last season while he was on the court.

The Gators will be missing a true point guard with the loss of former Florida guard Kyle Lofton, who ran out of college eligibility. Perry — who has one year of eligibility left because of the COVID-19 pandemic — would become the next transfer guard to run UF’s offense.

Between Perry’s unique court vision and ability to score, the only question to his game is how he’ll adapt defensively against Southeastern Conference opponents. He measures less than six feet tall and would face more aggressive, faster-paced competition than he saw in C-USA.

His official visit with Florida was April 7-9. Perry is considered a top-10 player actively in the transfer portal, according to CBS.

Golden signed Yale graduate transfer EJ Jarvis April 3 but is still in play for multiple big men in the portal. This reportedly includes Virginia redshirt junior Kadin Shedrick, Tulsa sophomore Bryant Selebangue and 10 others

Marshall freshman center Micah Handlogten — who was on an official visit April 6-8  — committed to Florida April 10. The 2023 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year chose UF over Auburn, North Carolina State, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia and Arkansas.

Handlogten is a 7-foot-1-inch, 227 pound big man that is seen as both a rim protector and an offensive threat inside the paint. The North Carolina native started in all 26 games last year for the Herd and played 26 minutes per game.

Handlogten averaged 7.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game last season for the Herd. The freshman center fits the culture Florida is building within its program, Golden said.

“We are thrilled that Micah has decided to join our program here at the University of Florida,” Golden said in a written statement. “He’s a proven rim protector, rebounder, rim finisher and we believe he has the capacity to expand his game.”

Handlogten will bring aid to UF’s defense after the loss of former forward Colin Castleton, who led the Gators in blocks last year. Handlogten collected 60 blocks last season — including a six-block game against the Akron Zips Nov. 30.

Handlogten will work with sophomore Alex Fudge, graduate student forward EJ Jarvis and freshman forward Aleks Szymczyk in the paint next season.

Handlogten ties Jarvis for the most collegiate starts at forward as a 20-year-old on Florida’s active roster.

However, he goes against the identity of Golden’s offense; Handlogten is a big man that struggles to stretch the floor on offense.

The pure-center shot 9.1% from 3-point range last season for the Herd and was a liability from the charity stripe. He shot 57.1% from the free-throw line.

The players mentioned previously are only a few of the players in the transfer portal UF has contacted this offseason. Here is an updated list of the Gators’ status in the transfer portal as of 12 p.m. Monday:

Guards:

Forwards:

  • EJ Jarvis (Yale): signed officially to Florida April 3.
  • Micah Handlogten (Marshall): committed to Florida April 10.
  • Aly Khalifa (Charlotte): official visit with Florida scheduled for April 15.
  • Tyrese Samuel (Seton Hall): official visit with Florida scheduled for April 15.
  • Darrion Williams (Nevada) Florida in Williams top five options.
  • Kadin Shedrick (Virginia): Interest from UF.
  • Keeshawn Kellman (Princeton) interest from UF.
  • Rienk Mast (Bradley) Interest from UF.
  • Bryant Selebangue (Tulsa): contacted by UF.
  • Zack Austin (High Point) contacted by UF.
  • Russel Tchewa (South Florida) contacted by UF.
  • Clarence Daniels II (New Hampshire) contacted by UF.
  • Tyzhuan Claude (Western Carolina) contacted by UF.
  • Jamarion Sharp (Western Kentucky): contacted by UF.

Contact Brandon Hernandez at bhernandez@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @BranH2001.

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Brandon Hernandez

Brandon Hernandez is currently the enterprise sports writer and sports podcast host for The Independent Alligator. He likes long walks on the sidewalk and watching basketball tape in his off time. You can find most of his work @BranH2001 on X and on The Courtside Podcast on Spotify.


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