White: Deaundrae Ballard a ‘wildcard’ next season

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Florida swingman Deaundrae Ballard endured an up-and-down freshman year and played sparingly in the second half of the season.

But Florida coach Mike White still has high hopes for the 6-foot-5, four-star prospect from Atlanta.

“He is a wildcard,” White said at his end of the season press conference on Wednesdy. “That’s an interesting one … I am completely up in the air of what to do offensively and he is a guy that potentially could flourish as much as anybody with a change.”

Ballard began his college career with a bang, scoring in double figures in three of his first four games. But when issues with defensive positioning surfaced, Ballard’s role with UF diminished. He also hit a shooting slump in the second half of the season, making just 5 of his last 25 shots from the floor while missing his final nine 3-point attempts.

For the season, Ballard averaged 3.8 points, shooting 38.4 percent from the floor and 15.6 percent (5-32) from 3-point range. His best SEC game came on Jan. 2 against Texas A&M, when he finished with 8 points and 3 assists in 19 minutes off the bench.

White said that Ballard has a chance to position himself for more playing time next season, especially if junior guard Jalen Hudson keeps his name in the NBA draft. Ballard is a gym rat, but often has tunnel vision to the basket when he touches the ball (9 assists on the season) and needs to continue to grasp UF’s switching defense concepts.
 “He is very talented and he is having a very good spring so far,” White said. “I really like his mindset. He hit that freshman wall, he didn’t have many opportunities to his defense. He is a guy who could potentially score a lot of points in college.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Yes I like Ballard. He was just a freshman and the defensive end is the hardest thing to learn. He has a good shot though. I think he can be a good player given more playing time. He seemed to play hard when he was in there. Time to step up next year.

  2. He was not a good fit last year with all the passing game / 3pt shooters .

    With Chioza and 3 Gor gone and maybe Hutson too, this team offense will look a lot different next year.

    I look forward to how it plays out.

    I am encouraged that he did not TX.

    GO GATORS

  3. Ballard is fast and fearless. I think he’ll have a breakout season. They may play different positions, but I can see an overnight development like that of a past Florida player. Can you say, Casey Prather? One breakout game and wallah, a go to player.

  4. It’s amazing how cowards hide behind online personas to give themselves an open avenue to troll every article. He knows who i’m talking about and i’m surprised that Gatorsports hasn’t removed him by now. Either way, Ballard is a great kid and i believe he will take a leap forward. If Jalen Hudson returns we will be even better than this year’s team i trust (which i think he will but have not talked to him about it the many times we have been in the same room). Chase, Johnson, Stokes, Hayes, Gak, Stone and Bassett should take a step forward this year. Okauru will grow into a monster for us. I’m hoping Kevaughn Allen gets his mind right and groove back. With the incoming class i still think if Hudson returns it’s a better team built for a deeper run but no matter what we will of course miss Cheese and Egor. Stone will blow up next season. He’s just figured it out and scratched the surface. Go Gators!

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