Florida basketball’s NBA Draft drought continued in 2019, but it should end soon

By Adam Silverstein
June 24, 2019
Florida basketball’s NBA Draft drought continued in 2019, but it should end soon

Image Credit: ESPN Images

As the Florida Gators continue their return to relevance under head coach Mike White, the program received more bad news in the 2019 NBA Draft last week, though it was not much of a surprise to the team. With no Florida players selected last Thursday, it has now been six years since the Gators have seen one of their players picked in an NBA Draft and seven years since they had an NBA team choose a player in the first round.

The six-year drought without a draft pick for Florida (Erik Murphy, 2013) is the longest in modern draft history as the process was shortened to just two rounds in 1989. (The Gators previously went 13 years without a selection in the first two rounds from 1970-82).

The seven-year distance between first rounders (Bradley Beal, 2012) is also the longest for Florida in modern draft history. (The Gators went 31 years between first-round selections Neal Walk [1969] and Dwayne Schintzius [1990].)

That’s not to say Florida has failed to send players to the NBA in recent years. In fact, there are three undrafted Gators who have left the team since 2014 that are currently on active NBA rosters. Dorian Finney-Smith (2016) started 26 of 81 games for the Dallas Mavericks this season, averaging 7.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Devin Robinson (2017) played in seven games for the Washington Wizards, averaging 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds. Then there’s Chris Chiozza (2018), who got called up late in the season and played seven games for the Houston Rockets (averaging 4.7 minutes per appearance) but did not see action in the playoffs. And you can always check NBA betting lines at 888sport NJ.

Jalen Hudson, who was expected to be the top NBA prospect departing the program this offseason, was not selected last week. After a stellar third season, Hudson struggled mightily through most of his final campaign, knocking him off of NBA Draft boards. He will play with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League. Neither KeVaughn Allen nor Kevarrius Hayes have received NBA opportunities at this time.

The Gators’ 2019-20 roster, however, is loaded with potential future NBA talent. Point guard Andrew Nembhard decided to test draft waters this season but is returning for his sophomore campaign. Another stellar year from sophomores Noah Locke or forward Keyontae Johnson could help them gain more prominence.

Then there’s Florida’s incoming freshmen. Five-stars F Scottie Lewis (ranked No. 7 overall nationally) and PG Tre Mann (No. 20) both have the opportunity to show out. Each needs to add size and strength, which is a focus of the offseason program, and production will be a major indicator of the potential to be the Gators’ first one-and-done players since Beal.

And let’s not forget Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr., an Orlando, Florida, native and former four-star prospect who averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Blackshear is set to make a commitment announcement soon with UF as one of his top options. (At one point, the Gators were believed to be his favorite, though it looks like that has dissipated.)

Blackshear would be the cherry on top of what should be a loaded Florida basketball team for the 2019-20 season, one that should bring the program’s draft drought to an end sooner than later.


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