Gators
FILE - In this March 4, 2020, file photo, Florida coach Mike White gestures during an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia in Athens, Ga. Unlike a year ago, Florida begins the season unranked and won’t have nearly as much hype. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)

Florida Men’s Hoops Set to Host Embry-Riddle in a Home Exhibition

Florida men’s basketball will return to the O’Connell Center Monday to face Embry-Riddle in an exhibition. The Gators have won 31 consecutive exhibition games dating back to 2002.

New Faces

Florida lost several notable players from last season’s roster. Guards Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis declared for the NBA Draft, while guards Noah Locke and Ques Glover entered the transfer portal. Despite the losses, Florida acquired several transfers and a pair of freshmen.

The Gators welcome Penn State guard transfer Myreon Jones and Boston College forward transfer CJ Felder. Jones led the Nittany Lions last season with 15.3 points per game and sank 60 3-pointers at a 39.5% clip. Meanwhile, Felder’s 7-foot-1 wingspan makes the junior a threat around the rim. He averaged over two blocks per game with Boston College last year and posted multiple outings with at least five blocks.

Graduate student guards Brandon McKissic and Philandrous Fleming Jr. will look to make an impact for Florida. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, McKissic won 2021 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year honors. The 6-foot-3 Ferguson, Mo., native averaged 11 points and shot 48.4% from the field at UMKC. In four seasons at Charleston Southern, Fleming Jr. scored over 1,500 points and earned Big South Defensive Player of the Year twice.

Freshmen guards Kowacie Reeves and Elijah Kennedy join Florida’s roster. Reeves is a four-star recruit out of Macon, Ga., and ranked No. 30 in Rivals150’s class of 2021 prospect rankings. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 27 points and 9.9 rebounds as a senior in high school. Kennedy — a lower-rated recruit than Reeves — led his high school in Virginia Beach to back-to-back state championships. In his senior year, the southpaw won Virginia High School Coaches Association Class 5 State Player of the Year.

Matchup

The Embry-Riddle Eagles play at the Division II level in the Sunshine State Conference. They overcame a 13-point deficit and defeated St. Thomas 83-77 last Thursday in their first exhibition.

Eagles forward Dwayne Russell scored 22 points and collected 11 rebounds — his 10th double-double since the start of last season. The 6-foot-8-inch senior will battle Florida forwards Colin Castleton and Anthony Duruji in the paint. Castleton averaged a team-high 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game last season. Duruji averaged over six points and four boards per game. In an interview with the Midnight Domino Show, Castleton expressed his thoughts on making the Preseason All-SEC First Team.

“A lot of the work that I’ve put in has definitely paid off,” Castleton said. “You’ve got to like move on because at the end of the day, it’s just a preseason award.”

How to Watch

Monday’s contest will start at 7 p.m. and air on SEC Network+. Following the exhibition, the Gators have the rest of the week off before they kick off their regular-season schedule on Oct. 9 against Elon.

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About Griffin Foll

Hello, I am currently a junior at UF studying sports media journalism with a concentration in Political Science. I contribute web and radio content weekly for WRUF ESPN Gainesville. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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