John Egbunu returning to Florida Gators basketball for 2017-18 season

By Adam Silverstein
May 19, 2017
John Egbunu returning to Florida Gators basketball for 2017-18 season
Basketball

Image Credit: ESPN Images

It never seemed like a legitimate possibility that redshirt junior center John Egbunu — not even halfway recovered from a torn ACL — would leave Florida Gators basketball after the 2016-17 season. And yet, Egbunu still decided to test the waters of the 2017 NBA Draft and waited until a week before the withdrawal deadline to remove his name and declare that he would return to school for his senior season.

That is what happened on Friday. Egbunu will play a third and final season with Florida once he is fully healthy, which is not expected to be until some point in January.

“I’m a Florida Gator in my heart, so I wanted another chance to come back and be a Gator,” Egbunu said in a school release. “I’ve graduated from here, and I love playing here, being a part of the culture and being with my teammates – it’s a fun team to be around. It’s also a chance for me to continue to improve and grow as a player and help the team however I can. And I can’t forget to mention how great it is to play in front of the Rowdies and all of our Gator fans.”

Averaging 10 points and 6.5 rebounds in 58 games with the Gators, Egbunu has started at center for Florida the last two seasons. Though he’s been tremendous in and around the basket — dunking the ball, rebounding and blocking shots — Egbunu must improve his shooting outside the circle in order to succeed as a professional at any level. Considering he has more than seven additional months to train and will presumably be stationary for much of it, that is most certainly something he can work on before he returns in the middle of the 2017-18 campaign.

Egbunu tore his ACL on Feb. 14. A mid-January return puts him out of action 11 months.

By the time Egbunu sees the court with Florida, he will almost certainly be a reserve for the remainder of the season as sophomore C Kevarrius Hayes made great strides replacing Egbunu in the starting lineup. Hayes, who appeared to improve with each passing contest, registered 60 blocks in 36 games (16 starts) last season, averaging 6.2 points and 4.4 boards while shooting 60.6 percent from the field and 67.3 from the charity stripe.

2 Comments

  1. Basshole says:

    This is really good news for the Gators next year.

  2. John B says:

    Please explain why it takes 11 months to rehab for a young athlete? I honestly don’t understand. I rehabbed a replacement ACL at 52 years old and was snowboarding in 4 or 5 months. A young athlete should recover much quicker.

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