UF basketball players Egbunu, Stokes on the mend

John Egbunu
UF starting center John Egbunu's recovery is on schedule, coach Mike White said Monday. [The Associated Press]

Florida’s two injured big men, including starting center John Egbunu, are on schedule to return at some point early in the 2017-18 season, UF basketball coach Mike White said Monday.
Egbunu and true freshman forward/center Isaiah Stokes are both recovering from ACL surgery.
“They’re right on track. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do,” White said on the summer SEC coaches’ teleconference. “They’ve been consistent with their treatments. (Trainer) Duke Werner is optimistic about the track that they’re on. I don’t know that that speeds anything up. We’re going to be patient and make sure 100 percent before they’re released to compete.
“I think we’re looking at, just very ballpark figures here off the top of my head, at December for Isaiah and January for John.”
Egbunu injured his knee in February and missed the Gators’ Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament.
Egbunu and the 273-pound Stokes are expected to provide a big, physical inside presence when they return. UF’s inside depth was stretched to the limit after Egbunu went down last season.
The Gators are expected to have a significantly different look next season with the addition of transfers Jalen Hudson (Virginia Tech) and Egor Koulechov (Rice) and four incoming freshmen — Stokes, guard DeAundae Bullard, forward Chase Johnson and guard Michael Okauru.
The 2017-18 team came together for the first time Monday with the start of the Summer B semester.
“It’s exciting that today is the first day of Summer B where our entire team is enrolled,” White said. “First day of workouts. Strength and conditioning starting today. We’ll have a couple of workouts on the court later on this week. Initial meeting. It’s always an exciting time. For all of us coaches, it’s exciting to get your newcomers finally on campus.
“I think they’re all going to have an opportunity. I tell the guys all the time, you decide playing time, I don’t. We’re going to play the guys that give us the best chance to be successful. They’re all going to be given an opportunity.”
The newcomers who figure most likely to have an immediate impact are Hudson and Koulechov. Hudson practiced with the Gators last season while sitting out after his transfer from the ACC. Koulechov, a graduate transfer, averaged 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a game at Rice this past season.
“You’ve got to probably start with Egor because of the fact that he’s older,” White said. “He came as a graduate transfer as a guy we thought could make an immediate impact, and obviously he thought the same thing. He’s got lots of experience. It would probably start with him, then Jalen Hudson, of course. He’s got high-level Division I experience in the ACC for a couple of years, coming off a sit-out year.
“We’re thrilled with our four freshmen. It will all depend on how quickly they can adjust. About a week into practice, we’ll probably have a better idea on those guys, and a really good idea about a month into practice.”
NOTE: White was asked what his new contract extension means to him. “It means that I can continue sending my kids to the school that I’m sending them,” he said. “Overall, it’s one of the things you’re looking for as a coach if you’re at a place that you really like. You want to be wanted, you want to have stability and you want to have continuity. For myself, personally speaking, my wife and kids are very, very comfortable where we are and we’re happy. We’re happy that they’re happy with us.” White’s new deal will pay him $16.3 million overall through 2023.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.