Florida leading scorer Colin Castleton likely lost for season with broken hand

By OnlyGators.com Staff
February 16, 2023
Florida leading scorer Colin Castleton likely lost for season with broken hand

Image Credit: UAA

Florida Gators redshirt senior star forward Colin Castelton, the team’s leading scorer this season, broke his hand Wednesday night in the second half of a 79-64 victory over Ole Miss, the team announced. The injury is expected to keep him out at least through the regular season if not longer, a source close to the situation confirms to OnlyGators.com.

The Gators have now lost their top playmaker and 25-game starter entering a stretch of games that will directly determine their postseason fortunes. While he may be able to return if a speedy recovery is ultimately deemed possible by doctors, doing so for anything other than the NCAA Tournament would be highly unlikely.

A 2023 Preseason All-SEC first team selection, Castleton was in the midst of an All-SEC season averaging 16.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.0 blocks per game. Entering Wednesday night, he was averaging 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks over the prior 12 games since the start of 2023, totals that ballooned to 24.8 points and 9.5 boards over his last four contests.

Hanging onto the bubble by a thread after losing its three prior contests, Florida now faces a near-impossible task of boosting its resume without Castleton on the court. The Gators have their toughest remaining opponents coming in succession playing at Arkansas before hosting Kentucky over the next week, meaning they will not even have an opportunity to work out their rotation or playing style without Castleton against a less formidable opponent.

To this point, Florida had run its offense through Castleton in the post while relying on his standout defense and shot-blocking prowess on the other end. Without him on the court, the Gators simply play even more inefficient offensively and struggle to get stops in the paint defensively.

Sitting 14-12 overall but just 3-11 against the first two quadrants, Florida must win its next five games and make a decent run in the SEC Tournament — or perhaps drop one of the two aforementioned games while making a similar run — to find itself as one of the final at-large teams chosen by the selection committee.

More likely, given the loss of Castleton and their level of play this season, is the Gators missing the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2015-16 and second time since 2008-09.

It has not been a banner year for head coach Todd Golden in his first season at the helm as Florida got off to its worst start since 1995-96 and may finish with a record around .500 for the first time since 2014-15, the final season of Billy Dononvan’s tenure.

A mass exodus of starters following the departure of former head coach Mike White coupled with one of the most difficult schedules in the country put the Gators in a difficult position this season, particularly as they watched many of those former players succeed elsewhere. Castleton’s likely season-ending injury would simply be the capper on what has been a difficult campaign for the program.

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