Riley Kugel against Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament on March 9. Photo courtesy of Maddie Washburn.

Gators Men’s Basketball Guard Riley Kugel Will Return Next Season

Florida guard Riley Kugel announced that he will be returning to the Gators for the 2023-24 season on Tuesday via Twitter.

The All-Freshman SEC shooting guard had an impressive first season, averaging 9.9 points per game while shooting 45.6% from the field. Kugel struggled early on but hit his stride as he saw more playing time. By the Jan. 25 game against South Carolina, he had earned himself a spot in the starting five. With more time on the court came better performances from Kugel, and after stepping up in the final month of the season, Kugel cemented his spot as a top offensive option for the Gators.

After an injury sidelined star forward Colin Castleton, the Gators had an offensive hole to fill and Kugel filled it. Over the course of the final seven games, which Castleton did not play in, Kugel averaged 18.3 points. He also drastically improved his 3-point shooting, attempting more 3-pointers and making them at a higher percentage. During those same seven games, the Orlando native drained 17 3-pointers and shot 41.3% from beyond the arc.

Kugel’s return is extremely important for the future success of the team. The Gators lost eight players in the offseason to the transfer portal and eligibility. Kugel returning will allow head coach Todd Golden to build a team around Kugel, guard Will Richard and forward Alex Fudge.

Additionally, the Gators recently secured transfer EJ Jarvis, a 6-foot-8 inch forward from Yale.

Jarvis averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and shot 55% from the field last season for the Bulldogs. Jarvis will also give the Gators another 3-point threat, as he shot 40.6% from deep last season.

Kugel’s return played a role in securing Jarvis. The chance to play with Kugel and Richard was one of the deciding factors that led Jarvis to choose Florida as his next destination, per Jacob Rudner of Swamp247.


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