Keyontae Johnson

Keyontae Johnson at the Gators' game versus UNF last season. Johnson was named 2020 Preseason SEC Player of the Year by media.

While Florida won’t enter the 2020-21 season with the expectations of last year’s No. 6 preseason squad, the team — and its players — will still face an uphill battle to “reduce the noise” this winter.

The SEC announced on Wednesday Gators junior forward Keyontae Johnson was voted the Preseason Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by league members and national media members. Florida’s All-SEC talent notched an even 14 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 31 contests last season. He also recorded his second-straight season with 38 thefts and registered 10 blocks on the defensive end.

Florida’s 6-foot-5, 229-pound honoree was also named to the Julius Erving Preseason Award Watch List on Nov. 4.

The Norfolk, Virginia, product and Florida’s points leader from a year ago also nabbed 2019-20 All-SEC honors (Coaches First Team, AP Second Team) after a strong, COVID-19-shortened sophomore campaign.

The Gators were also selected to finish fourth in the SEC during the same vote on Wednesday. Florida is on the outside looking in on a top-three of Tennessee, Kentucky and LSU. UF finished 2019-20 at 19-12 with an 11-7 win-loss tally in league play. The SEC’s preseason top-three notched conference records of 9-9, 15-3 and 12-6, respectively.

Florida will head north to begin the 2020-21 season at the Basketball Hall of Fame Bubbleville in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Gators will play UMass Lowell on Nov. 25 and Virginia on Nov. 27 at the Mohegan Sun Arena and then travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to face the Sooners on Dec. 2 before their first home contest against Stetson on Dec. 6.

The Gators’ first SEC bout is a Dec. 30 road matchup against Vanderbilt. Florida’s first SEC matchup in the O’Connell Center will come against LSU following a flip of the yearly calendar on Jan. 2.

Contact Dylan O'Shea at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @dylanoshea24.

Dylan O'Shea is a third-year journalism student at the University of Florida. He currently covers the Florida Gators baseball team, and has past experience covering the UF men's and women's swimming and diving teams.