Feb 14, 2018; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Mike White on the sideline during overtime against the Georgia Bulldogs at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

From Russia to Tennessee to Florida: Ruzhentsev is Ready

Florida basketball is preparing for their first game of the 2020 season to take place in exactly a week. Freshman forward Samson Ruzhentsev is ready to make his mark on the team.

Before Florida

Originally from Moscow, Russia, the six-foot-seven forward calls Chattanooga, Tenn. home. Ruzhentsev said he knew he always wanted to play basketball overseas. When the opportunity to come to the United States arrived, he took it.

Ruzhentsev graduated high school from Hamilton Heights Christian Academy where he helped the basketball team win three straight NACA National Championships.

As a senior, he averaged 19.3 points and six-point-three rebounds for Hamilton Heights. Ruzhentsev represented Russia in the FIBA U18 Euro Championships.

Getting recruited to play division one basketball at an SEC school, is no easy task. Ruzhentsev said he believes that it took more than just his basketball talent to land him a spot on the Gators roster.


Ruzhentsev spoke highly of Florida’s athletic program and said it is not for everyone.


Ruzhentsev pointed out that he thinks his toughness and character combined helped him get to Florida and will continue to help him make a mark on the program.

Tennessee to Florida

Although he is new to Gainesville, the freshman is no stranger to his teammates. Ruzhentsev played high school basketball with Florida sophomore center Jason Jitoboh. They played two years together at Hamilton Heights.

Ruzhentsev and guard Ques Glover have played against each other but never on the same team. Glover is also from Tennessee.

Chasing a Dream

Ruzhentsev originally planned on being in Gainesville for both summer A and B, but COVID-19 changed those plans. With the season being pushed back, he arrived on campus when everyone else did in late July.

Florida basketball will kick off the season on Nov. 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET against UMass Lowell. The game will take place in Uncasville, Conn., in the Basketball Hall of Fame Bubbleville.

About Maddie Schmidt

Maddie Schmidt's goal is to become a college football reporter. Be sure to check out her sports blog, mygamedaygal.com.

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