Florida basketball adds key big man commitment, loses third player to transfer

By Adam Silverstein
March 28, 2019
Florida basketball adds key big man commitment, loses third player to transfer

Image Credit: Tim Casey/UAA

Just a couple days after seeing two players transfer out of the program, Florida Gators basketball lost a third on Wednesday to add a new commitment on Thursday.

Sophomore guard Deaundrae Ballard, a former four-star recruit ranked No. 101 overall in the Class of 2017, entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal on Wednesday. Ballard did not see much action for the Gators this season and suited up for just 6 total minutes over the team’s final nine game of 2018-19, seeing action in four of those contests.

As an undergraduate transfer, Ballard will not be eligible to play again until the 2020-21 season, barring him seeking and receiving approval for a waiver.

With open scholarships to fill, Florida added some much-needed and long-desired size on Thursday when three-star center Jason Jitoboh (Chattanooga, TN) committed to the program. Ranked 225th in the Class of 2019, Jitoboh measures 6-foot-10 and 270 pounds; he committed to UF primarily over Tennessee and UCF.

“First off I would like to thank God for blessing me with the ability to play basketball and I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me and being a crucial part of my life. … I would like to commit to Coach Mike White and the University of Florida,” Jitoboh said via his high school team’s social media.

With the departure of Ballard coupled with the planned transfers of redshirt junior forward Keith Stone and sophomore G Mike Okauru as well as the graduations of three key starters, the Gators have just six scholarship players returning for 2019-20.

Jitoboh joins a 2019 recruiting class ranked No. 6 in the nation and No. 2 in the SEC, according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Five-star forward Scottie Lewis (Eatontown, NJ), five-star point guard Tre Mann (The Villages, FL) and four-star C Omar Payne (Montverde, FL) are the other members of that stellar group.

That leaves Florida with three additional scholarships available for next season, which means head coach Mike White may well be in the transfer market — both graduate and undergraduate — over the next few months.


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