Florida’s leading scorer Keyontae Johnson to wait on NBA Draft, joins Scottie Lewis by returning to Gators


Last year, the hopes of Florida basketball revolved around the offseason acquisition of graduate transfer forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. and a top-10 recruiting class. This year, the Gators’ hopes will center around two key returning players.

Florida welcomed back Scottie Lewis last week after the freshman announced he was putting his NBA dreams on hold for a sophomore return, due in part because of draft uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday, the Gators got even better news: leading scorer Keyontae Johnson is following Lewis’ lead and putting draft dreams on the back burner to make another run as a junior next season at Florida.

“I can’t wait to get back and play with my brothers again next season!” he said on Twitter. “We’ve got unfinished business & the Gators will be ready to go.”

Johnson was considered a mid-to-late second-round prospect after a breakout sophomore season in which he averaged 14.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and shot 38% from 3-point range as Florida’s go-to scorer. With a chiseled 6-foot-5, 231-pound frame, his two-way skill set and 3-point shooting should allow him to be successful as a 3-and-D wing at the next level.

But at this level, for Florida, he could perhaps be the difference between a good Florida team next season and a great one. His return ensures Florida will return all but one of its key players — Kerry Blackshear — from last season’s team. A year older and wiser, the ingredients for a team primed to make real noise in the SEC are scattered in place at Florida.

There may be a “buyer beware” sign hanging around Florida after going 19-12 this past season with preseason top 10 expectations, but say it with me and believe this two words: Ignore it. Johnson is an All-SEC caliber player. Lewis is an NBA athlete who showed improvement over the final stretch of the regular season. Noah Locke is an elite shooter, Andrew Nembhard a capable distributor with room to grow in his role.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This team will be a factor in the conference race, with perhaps last season’s disappointment spurring it to even greater heights next season.





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