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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Los Angeles Lakers sign Castleton, Fudge to NBA contracts

The former Florida frontcourt duo signed as undrafted free agents Friday

Florida forward Colin Castleton — pictured during the Gators' game against Stony Brook Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 — scored a career-high 33 points versus Kennesaw State Friday night.
Florida forward Colin Castleton — pictured during the Gators' game against Stony Brook Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 — scored a career-high 33 points versus Kennesaw State Friday night.

Former Florida Gators men’s basketball forwards Colin Castleton and Alex Fudge transferred to UF during different stages of their collegiate careers. Now, they will start their professional journey in near-identical fashion.

The Los Angeles Lakers signed both big men as undrafted free agents minutes after the conclusion of the 2023 NBA Draft Friday. 

The Lakers signed Castleton to a two-way contract which allows him to rotate between the NBA and G League rosters. Fudge signed an Exhibit-10 deal. The contract is a minimum salary agreement that allows a franchise to convert the contract to a two-way deal before the start of the regular season.

Castleton became the focal point of Florida’s roster in his three seasons in Gainesville. The Michigan transfer quickly became a player to watch in the Southeastern Conference for his shot blocking ability and post offense.

Castleton swatted 78 shots through last season and led the conference with three blocks per game. The big man led the team in points and rebounds per game with 16 points and 7.7 rebounds respectively.

Despite talk of entering the 2022 NBA draft, Castleton chose to play out his final year of eligibilty under newly hired head coach Todd Golden. His graduate season was cut short due to a hand injury against Ole Miss Feb. 15 that sidelined him for the rest of the season. 

He was named to the All-SEC first team, All-SEC Defensive team and was awarded Defensive Player of the Year honors by USA Today.

Fudge had a vastly different path to UF and the NBA despite ending up in the same location as Castleton.

After his freshman season with the Louisiana State Tigers, the Jacksonville native transferred to the Gators. He displayed his athletic ability on both ends of the floor in the season opener against Stony Brook and finished with 16 points. He averaged 3.3 points per game the previous year at LSU.

Fudge’s production and playing time seesawed back-and-forth until he became a consistent starter for UF midway through the season. However, after a head injury during a game against Mississippi State Jan. 21, he didn’t start another game for Florida.

Fudge shot 39.7% from the field and averaged 5.8 points per game — a number that gradually decreased throughout the year.

The two-year collegiate player decided to forgo his remaining eligible years and enter the 2023 NBA Draft. He was one of 20 NCAA Division I sophomores who chose to enter their name into the draft.

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The duo worked out with NBA teams including the Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets in preparation for draft day June 22. They also participated in the NBA G League Elite Camps in Chicago, Illinois, May 13-14.

Castleton and Fudge will begin their professional careers in the NBA Summer League against the Miami Heat July 3 at 3 p.m. as a part of the California Classic at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

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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