-Photo by Jordan McPherson
Second-year UF coach Mike White on Tuesday met with media for the last time this season. White, fresh off a mini beach vacation with his family and a bout with the flu, gave some insights on the trajectory of the program and his expectations for players moving forward. Here are the highlights.
Egbunu likely to test NBA waters
Add John Egbunu to the list of players contemplating going pro early.
White said Egbunu, a 6-11, 255-pound center who is set to graduate at the end of the month, will likely test the NBA waters.
Egbunu, who transferred to UF from the University of South Florida in 2014, had a solid season. The big man averaged 7.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game before suffering a season-ending torn ACL against Auburn on Feb. 14.
“I don't want to speak for John,” White said. “I’ll let him have his turn doing that. But I think ultimately that’s probably what he ends up doing and we’ll support him as best as we can support him. We want the best for John. If John wants to really, really come back we’ll welcome him with open arms.
Egbunu would join junior forward Devin Robinson in testing his possibilities at a professional career. Robinson almost made the leap in 2016 before being diagnosed with a foot fracture after the season. He returned to UF for his junior season and averaged 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
“I would be somewhat surprised [if Robinson stayed],” White said. “I'd be excited. I think that Devin, with this being his second go-around pursuing this thing, I think that it may be difficult for him to not follow through this year. But we'll find out soon enough.”
Younger guys need to step up
They showed glimpses throughout the year.
Keith Stone did it with his 15-point, 8-rebound performance against Miami early in the season and again with back-to-back double-digit performances against Georgia and Alabama before suffering a viral infection.
Eric Hester did it when he made all five of his three-point shots and dished out four assists in UF’s 106-71 win over LSU that sparked a nine-game winning streak.
Gorjok Gak did it with his 10 total points in Florida’s first two games of the NCAA Tournament after totaling just 12 during the regular season.
Now, White wants to see more from them as the team looks to replace up to five of its key contributors from last season.
“We have to continue to develop depth, like we talked about, and maturity, and skill level,” White said. “We’ve talked about it since I’ve gotten here. We’ve talked about it with you and talked about it as a staff, that we want to try to get a little bit older than we were. And then you want to try to balance your roster where you can somehow maintain a little bit more experience than the alternative, so those guys are just going through a process right now.”
Contract extension could be coming
Following an Elite Eight run and a second-place finish in the SEC, White and athletics director Scott Stricklin have been in talks about a potential contract extension for the basketball coach.
White just finished the second year of his six-year, $12 million contract.
“We’ve had a lot of really positive conversations,” White said. “I’m very pleased with the outcomes of our conversations. I’m blessed to have his faith as a guy who inherits me. I’m blessed because he didn’t hire me, but we’re very much aligned in terms of our visions for this program.”
White, who has been battling a flu for close to a week, said he watched the first half of Monday’s NCAA national championship game, in which North Carolina pulled away late to defeat Gonzaga 71-65.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski called White after the Gators’ Elite Eight loss to South Carolina to congratulate White on the season.
Swingman Canyon Barry, the son of University of Miami alum and NBA hall-of-famer Rick Barry, was invited to take part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, the first of two NBA pre-draft camps. Barry averaged 11.4 points per game in his lone season with the Gators. He also shot 88.3 percent from the free-throw line.