Rebuilding the frontcourt

The Gators answered questions about their frontcourt -- both for this season and next -- by adding transfers during the offseason. The first addition came in Michigan transfer Jon Horford, who has one year remaining to help the Florida frontcourt. The second addition, South Florida transfer John Egbunu, will be eligible for the 2015-16 season.

Florida added Jon Horford to the roster before it was official that Damontre Harris would leave the team, but his departure makes Horford even more important. He's an instant impact player from a winning program that is familiar with the Florida program because of his brother, Al Horford.

For Florida to take a transfer, there has to be a previous connection. Billy Donovan has mentioned multiple times that the staff wants to be familiar with the players, most often happening through the recruiting process when the player was coming out of high school. The Gators recruited Horford early in the process before backing off, but he was around Gainesville enough when his brother player at Florida to be comfortable around Donovan and the coaching staff.

"I have known Jon Horford for a long time just because of Al," Donovan said. "I feel like I know Jon. I think the thing that he'll bring to our team is certainly a lot of success at Michigan while he was there. Some very good teams, some deep runs in the tournament. I think he's got an understanding of what goes into winning. I think he's got a really, really good work ethic. I think he has natural leadership qualities and leadership abilities."

Horford doesn't have the same skillset and isn't as talented as his older brother, but for a Florida frontcourt that loses two starting seniors in Patric Young and Will Yeguete, it's a welcomed addition. He averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds last season in 13.8 minutes per game. Horford is already on campus and going to class at Florida.

"He's getting acclimated with the players and what we're doing here," Donovan said. "But I think he gives us maybe a little bit more experience in our frontcourt with the loss of Will and Pat and Casey, another older guy."

The Gators have time to develop John Egbunu, and Donovan believes he'll be worth the wait. After setting a freshman record for rebounds last season, Egbunu makes his biggest impact by blocking shots and grabbing rebounds.

He needs work on the offensive side, but with a year to sit out because of the NCAA's transfer rules, Egbunu has time to develop an offensive game with his back to the basket.

"John Egbunu has got unbelievable upside and potential," Donovan said. "He's really long, he's athletic. I think this year sitting out will be really, really important for him in terms of his development. I think he's got incredible upside, just his size, his athletic ability. His potential is huge. I think he wants to be really good player. I think he knows he needs development in skill."

Donovan said they could petition the NCAA to get immediate eligibility for Egbunu but admitted that he didn't know what the extenuating circumstances would be that would cause the NCAA to grant it.

The Gators will put in a waiver to get Alex Murphy eligible immediately. If it isn't granted, he will not be allowed to play for Florida until the end of the fall semester this year. Having him would also help the Florida frontcourt. Murphy isn't a traditional big man by any means but could help the Gators in the paint.

The Florida coach said on Thursday that he doesn't have the same shooting ability as his brother, Erik Murphy, but he's more athletic and a traditional small forward. His ability to put the ball on the floor is much better than the older Murphy.

"He really can put it down and can create. He's got a much, much higher skill level than Erik does," Donovan said. "Erik's probably a better pure shooter than Alex is, but you can do a lot of different things with Alex. Big body, he's strong, he can handle the ball very well he sees very well. I think offensively he needs to continue to get better. That's gonna be a big part of his development from an offensive standpoint, gaining confidence in his ability to put the ball in the basket."


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