Courtesy: Alex De La Osa

Mike White Expresses Confidence at Media Day

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team held their annual Media Day ahead of a highly anticipated 2019-20 season. Head coach Mike White talked about the toughness of this season’s schedule, the expectations he has for his team, and the confidence he has in many of his players.

Major takeaways from Mike White

One of the major takeaways from Media Day was how great this Gator team is looking – on paper. Right now, they have only had hour-long workouts, with the first full practice kicking off on Friday. But White made clear today that, so far, this team is more talented and versatile and was visibly excited for this season.

“All the ingredients that exist in really good teams remain to be seen with this team,” White said. “Toughness, maturity, experience, who’s going to lead us, consistency, work ethic. I could go on and on and on.”

Young Gator Roster

He also said the team already looks more competitive in practice with one another than last year.  This shift in energy could be due to the almost completely new roster Gator fans will see on the court.

The 2019-20 roster includes nine new players on the team – out of 14 total. One of those new players that White mentioned is freshman Tre Mann. Mann is from Gainesville, and attended The Villages High School. He is one of two McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster (the other being Scottie Lewis), the first time this has happened to the Gator program in six years. With Mann, White said he’s already impressed with his development in his short time here on campus.

Addition of Blackshear

Another major new player to keep an eye out for is graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear, Jr. He scored over 1,100 points and pulled in 616 rebounds during his time at Virginia Tech. White talked about impressed he was with Blackshear wanting to come to UF and get a graduate degree, when he probably could have signed a professional contract. Standing at 6-feet 10-inches, Blackshear is one of the big men the White will be utilizing on the court.

“He gives us an opportunity to play a little bit differently offensively than we’ve played here in that we’ve struggled to score on the interior,” White said. “He’s the best passing big that I’ve coached. He’s good at a lot of things.”

From Freshman to Leader

With the plethora of new players, White also discussed how they are all going to play with some of the returners. A player that White sees as a leader for this squad, and help to mesh this team together, is sophomore guard Andrew Nembhard. The Canada native posted 196 assists in his freshman season – the fourth-highest single-season total in Florida Basketball history. This summer, he worked out with and played for Team Canada. White says that Nembhard has leadership qualities that a lot of players don’t usually possess.

Tough Road Ahead

Furthermore, White said he plans on relying on Nembhard and Blackshear as veteran leaders, especially when the season begins. The full 2019-2020 schedule has been released, and White says there are some tough spots. Beginning in November, the Gators will host Florida State and face the like of UConn and Butler on the road. They’ll wrap up non-conference play by hosting Long Beach State before going into SEC play. The Gators will be hosting Mississippi State, LSU and Kentucky in the O’Connell Center.

White said today that so far, he hasn’t had to try to coach any effort into his players. It was clear White is confident in many of his players – which is a great problem to have. With 13 of his 14 players healthy, full-blown basketball practice starts for this Gator team on Friday.

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