Keyontae Johnson holds off NBA, returns to Florida basketball for 2020-21 season

By Adam Silverstein
April 14, 2020
Keyontae Johnson holds off NBA, returns to Florida basketball for 2020-21 season

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Keyontae Johnson joined teammate Scottie Lewis on Tuesday in announcing that he will return to Florida Gators basketball and hold off turning pro for one more year. Johnson, the rising junior forward who grew into to stardom as the most consistent weapon the Gators had this season, started all 31 games and led the team in scoring (14.0 points per game), finishing second in rebounding (7.1).

“I can’t wait to get back and play with my brothers again next season! We’ve got unfinished business & the Gators will be ready to go,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “I’m excited to keep growing on and off the court with Coach [Mike] White and our coaching staff here & keep playing in front of the gator family.”

Johnson, who also led Florida with 1.2 steals per game and averaged 31.3 minutes on the court, posted six 20-point games and eight double-doubles (including five in his last nine games), coming a rebound shy of two more. He set a career-high with 25 points in an important win over LSU on Feb. 26 and averaged 17.0 points and 8.3 rebounds over the final six games of the season as the Gators were gearing up for postseason play.

Johnson was incredible on both ends of the court last season, and with an additional year of seasoning, he should not only shine for the Gators but bump himself into first-round consideration for the 2021 NBA Draft. He was expected to be selected in the second round of the 2020 draft should he have declared this year.

Considering the coronavirus pandemic ended the campaign before postseason play could begin, Johnson missed out on a key opportunity to enhance his draft stock over a handful of games. Additionally, without opportunities to work out for teams in person, he would solely be relying on tape to convince teams to take a risk on him with an earlier selection.

A four-star prospect ranked among the top 100 players in the nation coming out of high school, Johnson will have every opportunity to become a star next season as Florida looks to live up to the preseason expectations it fell far short of reaching in 2019-20. Perhaps that pressure came one year too early for White’s team.

The Gators look to be returning all of their key pieces from a young, developing team with the exception of forward Kerry Blackshear Jr., who exhausted his eligibility as a graduate transfer. Sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard could test the NBA Draft waters as he did a year ago before ultimately staying.

If the rest of the roster remains in tact, Florida will return 81 percent of its scoring and 85 percent of its minutes from last season as Blackshear and front-court transfers Dontay Bassett and Gorjok Gak are the only departing players.

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