FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2019, file photo, Florida's head coach Mike White celebrates after defeating Xavier 70-65 in an NCAA college basketball game during the finals of the Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C. The Gators didn’t have much fun last year. White is eager for his Gators to run and press like never before. Florida is scheduled to open their season Nov. 25, 2020, in Connecticut. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

Florida Center Jason Jitoboh Previews Gator Basketball

The college basketball rankings released on Wednesday afternoon didn’t seem to phase Florida basketball center Jason Jitoboh. Coming off a foot injury, Jitoboh looks to get back on the court and make a difference in the Gators’ 2020-2021 season.

In his freshman season, Jitoboh played in 21 games for the Gators. Furthermore, if he can stay healthy, the sophomore could develop into a constant for this Florida basketball team this season.

Reducing the Noise

The 6’11 sophomore knows the Gators have to “reduce the noise” and listen to those in the Florida Gator basketball circle.

After coming into the 2019-2020 season ranked fourth in the preseason polls, the Gators have learned the importance of focusing their play. Gators’ head coach Mike White is keeping the team focused on “culture”. According to Jitoboh, each player had to pass the coach’s culture quiz in order to receive their jersey for the season.

However, this season looks entirely different for an unranked Florida basketball team. The loss of Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Andrew Nembhard gives the Gators starting five a whole new look.

Fresh faces like transfers Osayi Osifo (Eastern Florida) and Colin Castleton (Michigan) could be the added depth Florida basketball needs.

Osifo is natural when it comes to the sport of basketball. Originally a rugby player, the 6’7 forward picked up the game of basketball and quickly rose through the juco rankings.

Defensive Minded

The biggest strength for this Florida team could be the emphasis placed on defense. According to Jitoboh, the Florida defense is looking to push the floor and work at a faster pace.

Defensively, Keyontae Johnson should rise as a leader for Florida. Furthermore, Johnson led the Gators in rebounds and steals last season.

Additionally, coach White is putting the exclamation point on defense.

First Look at Florida

White and the Gators have yet to set a starting five. However, Johnson should rise as the team’s leader with the loss of Nembhard and Blackshear Jr.

Scottie Lewis, who lead the Gators in blocks last season, is another returning player who is likely to step up for Florida.  In addition, Tre Mann is coming off a successful freshman season. As sophomores, the duo has the potential to become the next men up for the Gators.

Additionally, all eyes should be on newcomers Osifo and Castleton to elevate the speed.

According to Jitoboh, the team understands their roles and what they bring to the table. We will get the first look at Florida basketball on Nov. 25 in their meeting against Maine.

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