OPENING STATEMENT: “It’s obviously very early for us, but I’ve got a bunch of really good guys that are working hard. We start Summer B today, so we’ll get back to workouts and continue to evaluate where we’re at, especially in regard to our three freshmen that we’ll see today for the first time because Coach Donovan and his staff recruited and signed them.
“We’ve had one transfer in John Egbunu and one sit out in Brandone Francis to add to the core returners. We look forward to the fall where we can get into a full swing of practices and learn more about our team.”
Q: Any surprises since taking the Florida job?
A: “I’m not sure that there has been any huge surprises. I guess a big positive, again not a surprise, but a great group to work with. The guys are working hard and get along with one another. They’re extremely compliant, guys that have spent a lot of time in the gym over the course of the summer. But no real surprises.”
Q: Did anyone give you advice about how to replace a legend?
A: “No one off the top of the my head in particular. All of my mentors and people that I respect in the business have all given pretty similar advice. That’s including Jeremy Foley and Billy Donovan, just to be yourself. Coach Donovan was absolutely incredible, and I’m sure he’ll continue to be at the next level, but I learned as a 23-year-old assistant from Michael LaPlant? As he took over at Jacksonville State as a head coach. The best advice given to him at that time was to coach with his own personality. We’re all different. There’s hundreds of different ways to do this. Every coach has his own unique approaches. I have tons of respect and admiration for the last era, but I’m going to do what I know. I’ve been a head coach for four years and we’ve had success coaching with our personality and some of our philosophies as we continue to learn from other coaches, especially Coach Donovan, and what has gone on here on and off the court as we’ve had the privilege to study games and practices. We’ll take a ton of that, but at the same time, we’ll need to coach with our own personality.”
A: “Justin won’t be here until the fall, but these three freshmen, the biggest thing I’m looking for is to find out what we have. I know we have three good players and great kids, but evaluating them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses and the best ways for them to help the program will be first and foremost. I’m just excited to watch them. It’s funny with other guys, we go into workouts today and have expectations with strengths and weaknesses. With these three frehsmen, the first week or so is more of sitting back and pushing them to work hard and play attention to detail while learning new drills. More than anything, it’s evaluating who they are as players.”
Q: What kind of player is junior college transfer Justin Leon?
A “Justin is a high level athlete with a very high level motor. He’s a hard playing young man, great kid and he’ll be a terrific program guy for us. He’ll bring a lot of familiarity with us, as we will have with him. He’s a prototypical type kid that we want to bring to Gainesville. I’m not sure that we’ll continue to stay in the junior college market, but we’ll continue to keep our eyes open that way. This was kind of a niche deal where we’re familiar with the kid, have two senior forwards that will leave this year. He’ll help bridge that gap from Dorian Finney-Smith and Alex Murphy’s departures to some of our young forwards.”