Q. Mike, obviously you're going to get a lot of questions about expectations and everybody is excited about this team and everything. Just talk about tempering them, and what are the things you need to get out of this team once practice starts?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, I mean, we've got a ton of work to do. I don't blame whoever is out there saying we've got a chance to be pretty good or so and so ranking has this in the preseason, Lunardi this and that. It is what it is; we've got a pretty good roster. It's a good problem to have. That said, we haven't even been through a practice yet. We have no idea who's going to start, who's going to score for us, who's going to be our best defensive player. All the ingredients that exist in really good teams remain to be seen with this team. Toughness, maturity, experience, who's going to lead us, consistency, work ethic. I could go on and on and on. Do I like our roster, yeah.

We've got a ridiculous schedule. We play four home games in the non-conference, I believe, which is unheard of at our level. Might be the only high major team in the country doing that. You can check your facts there. We've got a really tough schedule.

We've got nine new players. So I think in two weeks we'll be a lot better than we are today. How good will we be by December, early November, mid-February? I don't know.

But we've got a lot to work with. I'm not going to dodge that. I like our roster on paper.

Q. Who scheduled that?
MIKE WHITE: Denver Parler. (Laughter.)

Good opportunities, though. We talk about it every year. We're going to play a top-tier schedule every year.

Q. This is kind of new territory for you. Have you ever been through anything similar or anything even close to this, and how long do you think -- I know you've got some ideas in your head. How long do you think it'll take you to figure out what you want to be, how you want to play?
MIKE WHITE: Similar but on a different level. Our last year at Louisiana Tech, going into that year we had nine new players. So from that regard, we've been through it once -- not ten times but once. But the level of talent is very different. You complement young guys with an older guy in Kerry Blackshear, that makes a difference, as well.

I guess trying to mesh and getting these guys to coexist while being really productive together at this level, this will be the first time going through it. That said, a ton of young -- excuse me, a ton of new guys, the little bit of experience that we have, almost the same staff, of course, some of the things we found that worked were giving a bunch of ownership and providing opportunities for these guys to communicate with one another between the lines and outside the lines as much as possible.

Q. Noah Locke was talking recently about just how big a challenge it was for him. He had no idea what he was going to be up against.
MIKE WHITE: Yeah.

Q. And that he's going to share that with some of these young guys, because he said juggling school, practice, took him until like the end of the first semester really to even feel comfortable. What has that message been to the young guys and how much you're going to use guys like Locke and them to impart that?
MIKE WHITE: A lot. It's funny, we'll use those guys a lot, and I think -- again, I don't know what our leadership is going to be, but I think we have more potential leaders on this team than any team that I've coached. I think we have four, five, six, maybe seven guys that have a chance to lead in some capacity, Noah being one of those guys. We were talking an hour, hour and a half ago, and he said, Coach, some of these freshmen don't know what they're getting into, do they. I said, Friday is going to be rough for them. Friday is our first big one. I said, it's going to be shocking for some of these guys, Noah, and he said, I know, it's been funny in the locker room, a few of them have been talking about the fact that this isn't as bad as you guys said it was going to be, and Noah and I's stance, of course, is that these guys have been going through our half practices, most of it not even contact.

So it's going to be a rude awakening for some of these guys and how quickly they can adjust to the level of intensity and fatigue, the level of competition will be a big factor in how we develop, as well.

Q. How much differently can you play with a guy like Kerry?
MIKE WHITE: Very differently. He's very talented. He's smart. He understands the game at a high level. He's tough. He's stronger than he looks. He looks strong, but he's really strong, and he's difficult to defend. He's a good defender, as well. He gives us an opportunity to play a little bit differently offensively than we've played here in that we've struggled to score on the interior. We've struggled at times to get to the foul line, to throw it in the post. He's the best passing big that I've coached. He's good at a lot of things.

Q. You mentioned looking for some of these different leaders. Could Andrew be one of those guys?
MIKE WHITE: If you ask Andrew, he's going to be the guy. He started talking about that last spring. I've been open about that in the spring and the summer that he's challenged himself and he's made it known that he's going to really step up his leadership. He's got leadership capability and qualities. He's gifted in that regard. And he became a lot more demonstrative late season. He became more vocal, became a little bit harder on his teammates late season, and really was a big reason, along with Kevarrius Hayes that we got into that tournament and won a game. And he wants to take it to the next level, and that's not -- I didn't have to beg that out of him. He approached myself and our staff with that right when the season was over with.

He hasn't been on campus long, playing for Team Canada. He's been back here for a little bit, and he took those first couple workouts to kind of ease his way back in, and yesterday we saw another level of that, him reinserting himself as a leader.

Q. From your perspective, was there anything that had happened that made him approach y'all, or was it just kind of something that came to his own --
MIKE WHITE: No, I just think reflecting on the season. In his defense, he developed -- it took him time to develop as a leader. He's a true freshman starting point guard in the SEC, so he led a lot more as a freshman than most freshmen do, and I think he's got that in him. We've challenged him since he's been here, but he's a really, really smart kid, and he gets it. He knows the game, and I think that he sees an opportunity there for himself and for his teammates to gain from that, from his leadership.

Q. Are you concerned at all about getting minutes for guys? It's a pretty deep roster, and as far as keeping guys happy.
MIKE WHITE: Down the road potentially. This will be -- Friday will be the first opening practice where we've got 13 healthy bodies, and we've got 14 with Alex Klatsky. So I'm not going to go there yet. You just never know what'll happen. I appreciate being healthy. We're very fortunate to be where we are. Hopefully we can get through today without anything happening and we can get into Friday, again, healthy and hungry and get after it. And then we'll reevaluate every day, every week, going into the season. If we've got 14 healthy bodies early in November, we'll have to make some decisions, of course, but that's a good problem to have.

Q. Also Kerry Blackshear said that Scottie is going to be president one day. Do you see that in him?
MIKE WHITE: President of what?

Q. He didn't say.
MIKE WHITE: He's a talented guy. Scottie is very, very talented, on the court, off the court. K.J., I'm sure he's starting to take shots at all these young guys. He's probably going to have nicknames for them all in a week. He's the old man in the locker room.

Q. Two things: First off, would you talk about what transpired with Andrew playing up in Team Canada? Do you see him as a more mature guy? What have you seen that you think he came away from that experience with? And secondly, would you address Gorjok Gak?
MIKE WHITE: Sure. So Andrew, he was invited. He's been a part of Team Canada for a long time, and we knew that in the recruiting process. We love that he has those opportunities. It's helped with molding him as a player, probably as a person, as well. As I told the rest of our guys this summer when we were missing Andrew and he wasn't there for some of the grueling strength and conditioning workouts, if any of you have an opportunity to go play for Team USA, we hope you take advantage.

He's taken advantage. I think it has helped him as a player. He came back immediately, and you could see some strength, some confidence. I think he was champing at the bit to get back here. He was really competitive, a little bit chippy. I think eager to show his younger teammates that he's a pretty good player. So we're happy to have him back.

Gorjok, he's been very good. He's taken advantage of fighting through injuries and rehab, yet learning the game from the sideline, from limited reps, from film, improving his skill level at the same time, playing with a lot of confidence for a guy who hasn't played in a long time. He's had some really good, again, abbreviated practices.

Q. Last year you were very open about offensively having to adjust and adapt as the year went on. How have you grown as a coach since then, and where do you see this team's offensive potential?
MIKE WHITE: Well, I think as a staff we all grow every day. If we're not, there's something wrong, we're going the other way. So probably looking at offense from last year, the biggest takeaway is that you can be creative and find different ways. Even at the end of the year, it wasn't very pretty, but we found a way to manufacture some points.

I think every year you've got to go into it and say, boy, I'd really like to play this way, but you've got to figure out how you should play with that roster or those seven or eight guys or those 10 or 11 guys. You also have to evaluate how many you can play, to Pat's point earlier.

Yeah, those are takeaways. Those are takeaways. I do think we're more talented on paper this year. I'm optimistic that we can be better offensively, but we've got to figure it out. I know we're more versatile offensively, which sometimes can be -- I think a lot of times can be a positive, but it can be a negative, too, if we've thrown too much at the wall. We've got to figure out what we're good at quickly, what our strengths are, who we want to play through. Are we all accepting of playing that way? Can we all buy into doing that? And then hopefully find some offensive chemistry over the next couple months.

Q. You always talk about not wanting to throw too much at guys early, but you have all these talented freshmen, especially Tre Mann, a guy who does very well with the ball in his hands. What's the focus early and making sure he can coexist with Andrew?
MIKE WHITE: Well, not just Andrew, he's got to coexist with everybody. We've got a number of pretty good players. How good, we'll see. But Tre is very talented. He was a heck of a high school player, and we were so excited that he came, just like all these other guys. But other schools in our league are getting these guys, too. Tre is -- he's really talented with the ball. He can score it, he can pass it. He became a developing point guard play making passer late in his high school career, much better than early on when -- he's always been a prolific scorer at that level. I'll tell you, he's been an awesome kid, getting extra workouts, always in the gym. He's been a breath of fresh air to be around, and I think he can play a couple different positions.

Really our two and three are interchangeable. He can play the point and he can play off the ball, too.

Q. How do you address the expectations with the team? Do you talk about it? Do you just kind of like leave it in the background, or is it -- do you talk about it a lot, once?
MIKE WHITE: Not a lot. I just think it's a waste of time to talk about it a lot. But it is sitting there, and so we started talking about it late summer. When K.J. got to campus and we had almost our entire team here other than Andrew, and Tyree Appleby I guess didn't enroll until the fall, talked about it in our first team meeting this fall and really have left it alone since.

I've just challenged these guys. You've heard it a million times, from everyone, and me included, let's just get better today. Let's just worry about today, that's it. It'll all work out in the end. If we can all get better collectively today and all of us individually in this room, we all -- managers, staff included, just get a little bit better individually, because we can control that. The rest of it, it's hard to control.

Q. How competitive do you anticipate practices being compared especially to the last year or two?
MIKE WHITE: A lot more competitive than last year. Again, I don't know that that means we'll be a better team. I'm optimistic that we will be. I'm hopeful. But we've already had some of these one-hour workouts that have been very, very competitive, guys getting after each other, and it's -- I think it was Darris Nichols said it the other day to a recruit that the most refreshing thing for him this fall is that we haven't had to coach effort yet. I'm not saying we won't have to coach it Friday, but we haven't had to coach it yet. That's a pretty good sign so far.

Q. When you get a graduate transfer like Kerry, how do you balance them buying into the team versus they have only one year and they've got their hopes and dreams set on the NBA and other things?
MIKE WHITE: Well, I think Kerry could have left. He had a degree. He could have -- there was probably a line of people willing to offer him a contract to play professionally. He wanted to pursue a graduate degree here, and he wanted a chance to play for a really, really good team and be a big part of that.

There's not a big sell to K.J. In fact, he passed up an open shot the other day, yesterday, that I wasn't too happy about, and I let him know it, and he understood it. He's so unselfish. He's leery of stepping on toes. He wants to gel so badly that you can see he's probably overthinking it a little bit. Really unselfish, super skilled -- a couple of these other guys we've got to rein in a little bit, but I don't have that worry with him. He wants Florida to win. He's in a good place right now. If we've got 14 that want Florida to win more than anything else, then we've got a chance.

Q. You were talking about wanting to get better every day and maybe avoiding listening to some of the outside noise. I know that's something Dan Mullen with the football team has spent a lot of time on. Have you talked to him or any other coaches at UF about how you handle that with young players?
MIKE WHITE: Not Coach Mullen in particular. We talk about going to the lake a little bit, doing some surfing behind the boat. Some of these other coaches, though, in some of our head coach collaborations -- no one in particular that sticks out, but those meetings where you sit there and you get a chance to pick brains of a lot of these guys and gals that have won National Championships and been here for a long time and won a ton of games and meets and what have you. It's just this level, and it's the expectation, and we try to sell them recruiting that is a healthy pressure. At the same time you can't worry about it too much. You just can't. You can't control it, and you're taking away time and energy toward improvement and growth and learning. So that's it.

Q. Keyontae Johnson last year, as he got more games, he seemed to get more comfortable especially during the second half of the year. Do you feel like he's come out of his shell a little bit more? Have you seen more accountability from him?
MIKE WHITE: Yes. His biggest area of improvement has probably been his maturity, which has probably led to another level of confidence, which is probably why he's leading a little bit more now, feels better about himself. I think that he has more ground to stand on in terms of trying to lead a little bit.

He came here really young, and he was very emotional early last year. I can relate. I was a college freshman, and we've coached several guys like that, very talented, and he grew a lot throughout the year relative to Keyontae, we didn't get this right, I gotcha, let me try to get it right. Whether it was coming from me, an assistant or his teammates. And now you hear him out there sometimes telling a freshman or two, hey, take it, he's trying to help you, I'm trying to help you. He's just matured a lot pretty quickly.

Q. There had to be some anxious moments for him waiting for him to take these other visits, waiting for him to decide. What was the moment -- do you think where you were exactly the moment he decided he was coming to Florida, and what was the celebration like whether it was with your assistants and the White family household?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, actually I celebrated with Denver Parler. It wasn't very fun. And Chris Harry. Oh, my gosh. I'm just playing.

So it was us three and Paul, and we were speaking at a Gator Club in Melbourne. How about that, one of my favorite places. We were basically mid-event, and I had my phone on vibrate in case one person called because I thought that the decision may be coming, and I excused myself, walked over to the corner, and it was K.J., and you can ask K.J., crazy story. He told me, I've got bad news for you, Coach. And I was crushed. Crushed, but I knew I needed to get back to the Gator event. So I couldn't let myself go there. Just hey, my mindset was, we'll talk later, I'm in a middle of a speaking engagement. I said, So we're on the outside looking in, I guess. Where did you end up choosing to go, man? I'm happy for you. Crushed a little bit, but we'll talk later. He says, Yeah, I've decided that I'm going to go to University of Florida. He just totally messed with me, yeah. So I'm still a little bit mad at him for it. I'm going to get him back Friday.

Obviously really, really exciting. He was the best transfer available in the country last year. He's a really good player. He's an awesome young man, for those of you that had a chance to spend a little time with him. He's a big addition to our program.

Q. Did you tell the crowd the news?
MIKE WHITE: No, we couldn't. That's right, we couldn't. I couldn't even let the staff or anyone else know really because we were back at it, getting back to the event. And then to get back to your other question, I don't want to dodge it, we all went and had some steamed shrimp, and that's it, steamed shrimp and water.

Q. No champagne?
MIKE WHITE: Next question.

Q. You've really had good luck with graduate transfers. You had Canyon Barry, you had Egor Koulechov, now you've got this one. What is it about you attracting grad transfer?
MIKE WHITE: Grad Transfer U, bring them on. Put that out there. See who's available in the spring.

Yeah, we broke through with Canyon, who helped us get Egor, and they both helped us get K.J. We sold that for sure, the experiences that those guys had here academically and athletically and socially. It was a big selling point in K.J.'s process. Boy, those first two guys, they were tremendous, two of my favorite guys that we've had. In fact, Canyon Barry is in there right now working out. Gainesville is a second home to him. We know: A National Scholar Athlete of the Year award, SEC Sixth Man of the Year. Egor Koulechov had a great one-year career, was a pleasure to coach, and so K.J. should be no different.

Q. Could you talk about the two freshman big guys, Omar Payne and Jason Jitoboh?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, really different. Both very talented, both have a ways to go. Omar has got to get a little bit bigger, Jason has got to get a little bit smaller. Jason is a power guy but a skill guy at the same time. Really good feel for a big strong 5 as a passer. He's got good touch.

Omar Payne is extremely long for his height. I want to say he's like a plus -- I want to say we measured him at 6'10" maybe with a 7'5" off the top of my head, so I think he's like a plus-seven guy. Good motor and can really run and jump. I mean, just very gifted athletically, improving his skill level. Those guys are going to be good players here.

Q. You've played small in the past seasons. Do you envision having the roster where at times you can play big this year?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, I think out of necessity. That's another thing -- I made a comment on a podcast a couple weeks ago about the lack of weaknesses when you study our roster with regard to the improvement in the ability now to throw it on the interior, the depth, the health. So we've got those questions answered at least temporarily, and hopefully we can maintain those same answers. We've got some speed, quickness, size, length, on paper, of course.

That said, another area other than schedule, nine new players, all those ingredients that we talked about earlier, we don't have a conventional 4 on our roster. So we're either going to play small or play big. I don't think that we're going to play small 40 minutes a game. So we'll actually play bigger than we've ever played here. I don't know how many minutes a game we'll play big. It'll depend on who's playing well. I guess evaluating us a month from now. But we'll play the four-guard lineup, and then we'll play two 5s. I think with the skill level of K.J., that makes it a little bit easier. I think you could consider him a 4-5 guy, even at his size. So yeah, it'll be a little bit different out of necessity, small or big.

Q. Obviously you lost a few mainstays in the team, the likes of KeVaughn, Kevarrius Hayes, Jalen. Who do you expect to step up and really take control of the team and give your team an identity this year?
MIKE WHITE: I think that we'll rely upon the brand new guy as much as anyone. He's coming off of a Sweet 16 run. He was an All-ACC guy in K.J. I know he's only been on campus for, what, a month, something like that. But we're going to rely upon him, and we're going to let him -- and challenge him to make this as much his team as anyone else, with Andrew Nembhard. Andrew had a really good freshman year. He's got those leadership qualities that we talked about earlier. He's as accountable a kid as I've ever coached. He's tough as nails. And I think both those guys are eager to lead. They've been vocal about it. Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson are right there with them. I think Gorjok Gak has got some quiet leadership qualities to him, Dontay Bassett is very vocal. I think those freshmen will pick their spots. I think sometimes they're going to be told by some of the older guys, hey, we've got this, we need you to work on what Coach is asking you to do. But we've got some potential leaders, probably K.J. and Andrew are the guys that immediately I'll be relying upon the most, along with, again, Keyontae and Noah.

Q. Just to kind of sum it up, how much more excitement is there in the building right now and just the different divide with the players, coaches, everybody?
MIKE WHITE: Yeah, totally different feel when you go down there. You've got -- and it is so early, but right now we've got 14 guys that are getting along and challenging each other, a lot of chatter. Again, with the nine new guys, we're trying to promote as much ownership as possible, so the first 20 minutes of our workout yesterday, we gave it to them, and we went up as coaches upstairs and changed, got into our practice gear after we met, and as I walked out into the gym on the balcony upstairs, it was as loud a gym as I've been in.

I'm not sure everything being said is the right thing being said right now, and I'm not sure how long we can maintain it, but it's a good feel. I think our guys know we have a chance to be good, and I think that, again, we've got more potential leaders. We've got some talent. We do. It's evident. I think our guys are eager, as well, to get to Friday and to really step this thing up, whether our freshmen know what they're getting into or not.