Florida basketball predicted to finish second in SEC, Blackshear receives honors

By Michael Phillips
October 16, 2019
Florida basketball predicted to finish second in SEC, Blackshear receives honors

Image Credit: ESPN Images

As the 2019-20 college basketball season draws near, preseason accolades and top 25 polls are beginning to be released. With a rebuilt roster filled with top-tier talent, the Florida Gators are getting more respect than they have recently and are expected to be a preseason top-10 team. Still though, that does not mean Florida will be the best team in the SEC, which continues to be one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.

The Gators on Tuesday were predicted to finish second in the SEC based on a media poll conducted by the league. Kentucky finished as the projected top team in the league with LSU, Auburn and Tennessee rounding out the top five.

Where Florida did finish on top was preseason player of the year balloting. Graduate transfer forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. has been tabbed for that role while also being named as a member of the Preseason All-SEC first team. In his final season with Virginia Tech, Blackshear averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds, including nine double-doubles and seven games with 20 or more points in the ACC. He was the most highly-touted graduate transfer in the country and now joins head coach Mike White’s team filling a big need for the Gators. 

The preseason accolades do not stop with Blackshear, however, as sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard was named to the Preseason All-SEC second team. Nembhard started all 36 games last season, averaging 8.0 points and 5.4 assists per game. He spent the summer playing for Canada as it competed for the FIBA World Cup and starred in Canada‚Äôs 90-70 upset of Australia before the World Cup tipped off, dropping 12 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists. 

After suffering an injury during competition, Nembhard saw limited action throughout the World Cup as he appeared in just five games and averaged just under 10 minutes per game, but he was able to experience the speed and physicality of professional basketball. 

Now Blackshear, Nembhard and Florida are preparing to begin a season filled with lofty expectations. 

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