GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While reflecting on Florida’s run to the Elite Eight and projecting ahead to next season, Gators basketball coach Mike White indicated on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect forward Devin Robinson or center John Egbunu to return to the team.
That said, nothing has been officially decided yet.
Robinson, who averaged 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior this season, thought about leaving school last year before a stress fracture in his foot helped make his decision for him. After Florida’s Elite Eight loss to South Carolina, the 6-foot-8 forward said he had to weigh his options again.
“I would be somewhat surprised, I’d be excited,” White said as to prospects of Robinson returning. “I think that Devin, with this being his second go-round pursuing this thing, I think that it may be difficult for him to not follow through this year. But we’ll find out soon enough. And of course we want for Devin what Devin wants for Devin. And we’re going to support him anyway we can. Obviously a big recruiting coup this spring would be if Devin re-committed to being a Gator.”
Egbunu, meanwhile, sustained a season-ending torn ACL in his knee on Feb. 14, and it’s uncertain when he’d be able to contribute if he did return for his redshirt senior season. He already sat out a year following his transfer from South Florida after his freshman season.
He averaged 7.8 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds this season and was Florida’s best interior defender.
“John hasn’t made a decision yet, but I think he’ll probably test the waters and see what type of feedback he gets,” White said. “I don’t want to speak for John, I’ll let him have his turn doing that, but I think ultimately that’s probably what he ends up doing and we’ll support him as best as we can support him. We want the best for John. If John wants to really, really come back, we’ll welcome him with open arms. But both of these guys have options and decisions to make. So that recruiting landscape, as a staff, we continue to monitor very closely.”
White said he sympathizes with Egbunu’s dilemma in that the 6-foot-11 center can’t attend tryout camps or conduct individual workouts for teams or really showcase his physical abilities in any way for scouts and talent evaluators in the window leading up to the NBA Draft.
“I think it makes for a really tough process for him. I feel for him. He’s in a tough spot where I don’t know how much thorough feedback he’s going to get,” White said. “… John, if I hadn’t said it today just as a reminder, he gets his degree this semester. And so, it’s a matter of do I apply for grad school or do I pursue the professional basketball thing?”
Florida already knows it’s losing senior point guard Kasey Hill, who finished second in program history with 530 assists and keyed the Gators’ aggressive defensive approach; senior guard Canyon Barry, who ranked second on the team with 11.4 points per game; senior forward Justin Leon, who played a starring role in their second-round NCAA Tournament win over Virginia with 14 points and 10 rebounds; and senior walk-on center Schuyler Rimmer.
White added that he thinks the Gators’ run to the Elite Eight will help the professional prospects of those players.
“Kasey Hill hopefully will get more opportunities, more looks, more tryouts, just because of the fact that he didn’t get these numbers for a good team —he got these numbers and led a team to the Elite Eight,” White said. “Canyon Barry’s going to (the NBA evaluation showcase at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament) any day now. He’s got a great opportunity there. Justin Leon, we get calls a bunch about potential professional opportunities. I’m not sure that those guys, I’m not sure their resume is quite as attractive if we don’t make that run.”