Guard Andrew Nembhard may be the most important sophomore on the Gators’ men’s basketball roster this season.
Statistically, Nembhard is a great player and has high standards to play up to after his first season for the Gators.
Starting all 36 games his freshman year, Nembhard was the first Gator to start his freshman debut since KeVaughn Allen in 2015. He was the first freshman to start every game since Bradley Beal in 2011-12. Nembhard also averaged 32.9 minutes per game, the highest for any Gator last season and seventh in the SEC.
From the stands, Nembhard’s leadership abilities are noticeable. He is constantly directing his teammates where to go and stays active and talking on the court and from the bench.
His ability to see passing lanes for scoring opportunities is comparable to that of Chris Chiozza’s. Nembhard averaged 5.4 assists per game, fifth-most in the SEC, and had 194 total assists in the 2018-19 season. This is the second-most for any Gator freshman, behind Nick Calathes, who had 221 in his 2007-08 freshman year. Chiozza holds the Gators’ all-time assist record with 571 assists. At this rate, Nembhard could surpass Chiozza and grasp the record at the end of his junior year for Florida.
International Playing Time
An advantage Nembhard has over his teammates and other NCAA players is his experience playing for Canada, his home country, in several international matches.
In 2018, prior to coming to Florida, Nembhard helped lead his team to win a silver medal at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship.
In 2019, Nembhard earned his spot on Canada’s FIBA 2019 team and was the youngest player on the roster. He averaged 2.4 assists and 9.7 minutes per game in the tournament.
Some predicted that Nembhard would leave the Gators to head to the NBA after his stellar freshman season with Florida. He was invited to the G League combine and entered the NBA Draft in 2019. However, he withdrew his name to stay with the Gators for at least one more season.
That being said, Nembhard plans on stepping up more this year as he becomes more comfortable and confident as a leader for the Gators.
With 4 graduates and 5 transfers, the Gators will have a young roster this coming season. Since KeVaughn Allen and Kevarrius Hayes graduated and Keith Stone headed to the University of Miami, the 2019-20 sophomore class has more pressure to fill the leadership roles left behind. Nine of the 14 players on the roster for the 2019-20 Gators are new to Florida. This means that Nembhard, Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson are responsible for setting the standard. They need to be vocal and accessible to incoming players in order to see Florida’s program grow and succeed in the next coming years.