Florida basketball recruiting: Gators add C Rueben Chinyelu out of transfer portal from Washington State

By OnlyGators.com Staff
April 18, 2024
Florida basketball recruiting: Gators add C Rueben Chinyelu out of transfer portal from Washington State

Image Credit: Ashley Ray, UAA

Florida Gators head basketball coach Todd Golden has been pounding the recruiting trail since the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, and the acquisitions are coming in fast. The latest among them is Washington State center Rueben Chinyelu, who has decided to join Florida out of the transfer portal.

Chinyelu (6-foot-11, 245 pounds) has a four-star rating as a transfer prospect, the same he possessed coming out of high school. The native Nigerian entered college from NBA Academy Africa. Chinyelu averaged 4.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while hitting only 48.9% of his free throws in 13.9 minutes per game last season. He excels on defense and is still developing his offensive game.

“We are thrilled to welcome Reuben into our basketball family here at Florida,” Golden said in a statement as part of UF’s announcement of Chinyelu signing with the program. “He is an ultra-talented young man who fits into the culture of our program seamlessly. He has fantastic tools on both the offensive and defensive end, and we expect him to make a big jump across the board as he enters his second collegiate season.”

Golden previously earned a commitment from Chattanooga forward Sam Alexis, an incoming junior from Apopka, Florida, who averaged 10.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks last season for the Mocs, his first as a starter.

As with any transfers, how they will acclimate to a new university and program is unknown. However, Golden’s track record with transfers — particularly big men — has been substantially positive since he arrived in Gainesville.

While not direct replacements, Chinyelu and Alexis will be part of the effort to make up for the loss of Tyrese Samuel, a high-level starter for the Gators who ran out of eligibility after the 2023-24 season. Point guard Zyon Pullin’s similar departure has left a hole at point guard, which will be a position of emphasis for Golden to replace through the portal.

Starting center Micah Handlogten, who will be a junior next season, is expected to be iffy to start the season after suffering a significant leg injury during the 2024 SEC Tournament. Chinyelu and Alexis will also fill in for him to start the campaign.

Meanwhile, starting guards Walter Clayton Jr. and Will Richard have entered their names in the 2024 NBA Draft options to return. Both have said they will only return to play for Florida if they continue their college careers in the 2024-25 season.

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