(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)
With just over a month left before the Gators open their season – head coach Todd Golden’s first with the team – he, in addition to three players, addressed the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss their current state and outlook on the year.
Here are the highlights:
- Golden, on the transfer portal and his own move to Florida, said that the idea of having new guys in and out of the program every year is the “new day and age of basketball.”
- Regarding his perceived star player, Colin Castleton, Golden was reluctant to give him that nod in this moment. “He’s our most proven player,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of talented players.” He did add, however, that he “doesn’t have much to prove.” He said that the big man officially began playing full 5v5 in practices last week, and that he still has work to do conditioning-wise.
- On his other big, Jason Jitoboh, Golden said that he’s in great shape – right around 300 pounds but quicker than people think and moving well.
- Golden made it a point to say that he is very much open to the idea of starting two point guards or two bigs. He said that the starting five will completely depend on performance in practices, at least for their opener – regardless of position. He added that a Castleton-Jitoboh frontcourt could be something to look out for.
- Will Richard reportedly slipped on a wet spot in practice and is currently using crutches, but is does not have a cast or boot. He was a non-participant in Tuesday’s practice. Golden said that it’s nothing serious and no cause for major concern.
- On some of his backcourt guys, Golden said that Trey Bonhem is more “score-first,” while Kyle Lofton is more “pass-first.”
- On his original conversation with Golden, the one regarding his returning to Florida for his final year, Jones said the focus was on him returning to his former “Penn State self.” He said that he acknowledged last year as a down-year, but knows that the player he is was that of two years ago – not this past year.
- On playing with a broken finger last season: “It was tough, but I don’t use it as an excuse. It’s just a broken finger.” He added that he is 100% healthy right now.
- Regarding how he expects the team to play this year under the Golden system, he said that they’re going to be “running a lot of different plays for a lot of different players.”
- On transfer Kyle Lofton, Jones said he’s a “great” player. “I can see why there was all the transfer portal hype.”
- Jones made it a point to emphasize the team’s comradery. “If you see one of us,” he said, “you’re probably going to see the rest of us behind him.” He added that they eat together, hang out together outside of practices, and are constantly encouraging each other during practices.
- Castleton, right away, said that he is 100% healthy – that his shoulder is completely healed. He said that he worked on it throughout the offseason.
- As far as his on-the-court ability was concerned last season, regarding the impact of his injured shoulder on it, he said there wasn’t much effect. He said that it was about mentally dealing with the pain, but it didn’t physically hinder him in any way.
- He said that he currently weighs 247 pounds, the heaviest he’s ever been.
- On the NIL and how it affected his decision to stay another year at Florida, he said that it was a “game changer.” “It’s definitely helped me financially,” he said. “It was a factor in me coming back, obviously.”
- Lofton said that what he likes most about the team is the “character” of their guys. He said all the great players are just as great people, and that it’s important for teams to have that be true.
- On his new coach, he pointed out the energy Golden brings to the table – said he’s “always energized” and that the team often has to “match his energy.” If you walk into the locker room and you’re not at the energy level he is, Lofton said, you may as well walk out and try again.
- “I’m a great on-the-ball defender and an even greater off-the-ball defender.” He said that he’s looking forward to playing that end of the court hard, and that he thrives in doing so.
WCC: Everything Todd Golden, Myreon Jones, Colin Castleton, and Kyle Lofton had to say can be seen HERE.