Egbunu leaving UF’s basketball program

Florida center John Egbunu has fun during media day at UF's practice facility last October. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

After sitting out his senior season while recovering from a torn ACL, Florida senior center John Egbunu has decided not to pursue a medical exemption for a sixth year and will turn pro.

Egbunu’s last game for the Gators was Feb. 14, 2017, when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in a game against Auburn. Setbacks occurred during a lengthy rehab process and Egbunu was unable to return to the floor this past season.

The 6-foot-11, 265 pound Egbunu averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds in two seasons at Florida. His best season was in 2015-16 as a redshirt sophomore, when he averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Gators. Egbunu had seven career double-doubles for the Gators, 84 career blocked shots and 106 career dunks.

Egbunu met with Florida coach Mike White on Monday to inform him of his decision and then posted a goodbye to Gator fans on Monday night on Instagram.



    • Disagree…would his stock improve so much if did come back injury free? I assume that he has likely graduated…so Europe of the D League is not a bad move. One thing for sure…he is 6’11” all day long and plenty of stiffs have made 7-10 year careers in the league just being 6’10” or better.

    • I don’t think the decision is obvious either way here. He can come back and maybe improve his stock enough to be drafted — or he can continue to exacerbate his health and have no professional prospects to speak of. He decided to go the safe route. I hope it works for him.

    • Agree! Doesn’t have great hands and is not very quick which severely affects his offense and I believe this was one of the reasons to come back was to work on these shortcomings. Great shot blocker and rebounder. Most of us knew he wasn’t coming back. Best of luck!

  1. gee ! what a surprise.

    He was never coming back.

    UF wasted a year on him. A year when one true center would have made all this difference.

    Egbunu should have been dismissed feb 1st. for failure to play.

    He did a great disservice to UF.
    If he had any honor he would have admitted that he was not coming back and thus exposing himself to a re injury. (and hurt his NBA paycheck)
    I am not saying that not playing for UF this year was the wrong thing for him. I am saying he should have quit when he got the injury. He should have known at that point it was not in his best interest to return to UF. So he was ether stupid or selfish.

    Maybe then (with no egbunu ) UF could have recruited a real center and the rest of the story could have been very different.

    I would erase his name from the books. He never existed.
    No senior day for him.


    • Hindsight bias is always right. The problem is he had hope he would recover. Arguably UF did a disservice to him. He didn’t do surgery on himself. He did it to come back. He wasn’t able to recover in time and I have heard nothing about him not trying. I wish him the best and hope he is able to one day make it in the NBA. In the meantime, he should be able to do something in Europe. If As the Ball Turns can get into Europe, Egbunu should be a star there.

    • Buck, you are a moron, and if you are a Gator, well Lord help us all. This young man blew out his knee and quite possibly any chance at a professional career, if not here then overseas, while giving his all for our team. I guess compassion for those hurting is not in your soul, just a mean and nasty spirit. Hopefully we won’t see you on future posts.

      • I do not think you are understanding why I am frustrated (that he did not quit UF a year ago). The only reason i can think of is that by staying he got free medical care that would be lost by quiting.

        Let me ask you this?
        Are you saying you never thought “he was never coming back”?

        Let me see :
        * NBA size – check
        *Athletic- check
        *NBA pay check if he can come in healthy.
        *Everyone speaking to him SAYS “injury does not keep you out of NBA, but re injury probably does”
        * If i’m his dad i am telling him that it is not worth the risk of re injury to come back to UF.

        !!! i am going out on limb and giving him the benefit that he would realize that it was not ever in his best interest to return to UF.
        Unless he is financially set for life he would be making a very poor decision to return to collage and risk his NBA payoff.

        * It does not take 12 +++ months to recover.
        there are a lot of bball players that had the same surgery and played.

        I never said it was wrong for him not to return to UF.
        I am saying it is obvious that he should not have returned,

        Best case he had a wait and see strategy. A selfless position.
        -(dumb) to much was at stake for him.

        Worst case he really thought he was coming back-
        a) he did not think it through
        b) willing to take big risk –(dumb) to much was at stake for him.

        Who of you critics out there would have advised your son to return to UF?
        NOT ME
        I would have advised him to be honest and go to coach and explain why it is best that i quit now. Because it is what is best for me (playing in NBA).
        It is best for UF because now you can replace me .

        Sorry if i offended anyone.

    • You’re dead wrong about Egbunu — but keep that humor coming. You are the only person in the state that thinks Egbunu was jaking it!

      Apply some of your ire and nonsense toward Mittens White now — that s o b is the BIG problem.

    • Well Gee he was and is a Gator. As far as I was concerned he went to class and did everything he was asked to do. Nobody quits under those circumstances who plays for us, they might get a medical to complete their education. I wonder if he is healthy enough to play anywhere, but wish him good things in the future. This post surely does not reflect actual graduates who support the Gators.

  2. I don’t think the Gators even had a spot for him with the guys they have already signed coming in next year. Egbunu is a good defensive player but needs to develop his offense. Given the NBA is an offensive oriented league, I don’t see him playing in the NBA at this point. Hopefully he finds a place overseas to develop and can heal up and stay healthy. Either way when he played for the Gators he really ran the floor and gave good effort so best of luck to you big John wherever life takes you.

  3. Buck,
    I long for the simplicity and clarity or your world view. I equally wish we’d had a true Center available this year and I agree that it would have been a game changer. Having said that, to imply some sort of bad actor status to a kid who gave it all (and guessing a lot more than you ever did) to this team and school because he tried to come back and was still hurt? Get a life and don’t represent yourself as a Gator fan. We don’t want you.


  4. There are times when fans are simply embarrassing. To state as a fact that a guy is making a mistake by not coming back, or to state as a fact that the school should have kicked someone off the team because they didn’t heal properly is just asinine. The guy blew his ACL playing basketball for OUR Gators! How about a simple thanks and best of luck in the future Egbunu!! Hopefully you don’t walk the rest of your life with a limp. If you do, some of our fans will say you deserve it for not playing harder for them.

    • You are absolutely right Sparky. I really don’t know how anyone who ever watched Egbunu play could question his dedication or effort. When he played he always played hard. I am sure nobody wanted to get back out there and play more than he did. I for one had a torn ACL in high school and the doctors told me it could take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months to heal and no guarantee it would ever be what it was prior to the injury. The time to rehab totally depends on the severity of the tear and other factors. Some people just take longer to heal than others and if you try to push it you can suffer another tear. UF has some of the best doctors in the world so I am sure he got great care and advice. As far as making any difference in how the Gators year turned out who knows. But consider this, if he played he would have basically taken Hayes and Gac’s minutes. Together they averaged 7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Egbunu averaged about 10-11 points and 7 rebounds per game. I definitely think Egbunu is a better defender than Hayes and Gak but based on stats I don’t think things would have turned out much different. The Gators make a few more threes and they could have beat Texas Tech and been in the sweet sixteen. And remember that terrible loss to Loyola earlier in the year. Doesn’t look so bad now does it?

  5. All the best to Big John! He’s the traditional center in a more non-traditional NBA. If he could hit the 3, it would be different. I look for his success to be in Europe. Always enjoyed watching him play. Glad he let the coaches know now. Go Gators!

  6. I’m kind of back and forth on this deal. I’ve got two questions that I need one of the experts, and there are many, on this board to answer.
    1. If his knee isn’t strong enough for a 30+ game NCAA schedule then how is it going to do it with a 80+ game NBA slate?
    2. I’m pretty sure that UF picked up the tab for his knee operations and rehab while on scholarship. Who’s going to pay for the expensive procedures now that he’s officially gone?
    Unless he makes an incredible, miraculous recovery in the next few months then I don’t think he will even make it in some foreign league. Hoping for the best for him, though.

  7. Some of you guys just don’t get it. You act like these guys were placed on this earth to serve UF and I hate to burst your bubble by advising you that you are wrong.

    John Egbunu worked his a$$ off for over a year in an attempt to get back on the court and help his team and I appreciate the effort. His future as a pro is limited but it was not going to improve dramatically if he returned for another year. He is a defensive specialist that was not going to suddenly develop an offensive game over this summer so another year would only delay the inevitable tour of Europe and risk the possibility of another ACL injury.

    I was very hopeful that John would make it back this year but when he did not, I knew his career at UF was over and I completely understand. I appreciate all you have given to UF and I wish you all the best in the future.

    Good Luck Big John!!

  8. To hear most of the “experts” right now, one would think Nova is next to invincible. Currently, they are better than even money to win the title.

    One little problem though — Kansas will upset them. Yes, unlike some on here that reveal their predictions after the event is determined (namely, Mac’s Stinking BBQ Sauce), I’ll take Kansas right now in that one.

    In the other game, rooting for Loyola but can’t go against Beilein and better athletes/size. Loyola wins only if Michigan gets into major foul difficulty.

    Kansas/Michigan title game. Tough shit, Villanova.

  9. I understand his decision, however, I do not agree with it. Like so many other college players he has a inflated and distorted view of his value and worth as a potential NBA draft pick. Because of his injury and not having played for almost 2 years, he will not be selected. He should have come back for another year and proven himself. If he played well, he could have been a 1st round pick. Now, nothing. Bad advice and poor decision on his part. These kids never learn.

      • Its his choice to stay and apply for another year of eligibility (which I am sure would be granted), or leave and pursue a pro career. I just think that his chances of getting drafted are not good coming off a knee injury, surgery and sitting out almost 2 years. So if his goal is to make it as a pro, then I think he would be better served by coming back for another year, show the NBA that he has healed and what you can do, and then get drafted. If he does not get drafted now then his road will be a long one.

  10. Once a scholarship is given, the university cannot rescind the scholarship or “dismiss” the player and get the scholarship back if that player is on the bench for a medical reason related to the sport. Has to be either grades or conduct. Egbunu never was a conduct issue. Fragile? Don’t know. Bad Luck? Yeah. I think he will do well in Europe. Now that’s he’s officially left the program, it frees up another scholarship. Not sure if White can give it in 2018 or has to wait until 2019. If anyone knows the answer (when the scholarship for Egbunu can be offered to another player), please post here. Just curious.

    • cattrick every D1 team is allowed only 13 scholarships

      Guys coming back on scholarship (eligible to come back I should say) are Mike Okauru, Chase Johnson, Isaiah Stokes, Jalen Hudson, Kevaughn Allen, Gorjok Gak, Kevarrius Hayes, Dontay Bassett, Deaundre Ballard and Keith Stone. That’s 10.

      New recruits already signed for next year are Andrew Nembhard (five stars), Keyontae Johnson (four stars) and Noah Locke (four stars). That makes 13.

      Jalen Hudson just put his name in for the draft but has not hired an agent, so he can still come back but if he gets good feed back from the scouts he could leave. I think his skills translate good to the NBA but Im not sure he is good enought to be a first or even second rounder. But my gut says he probably goes. That would free up another scholarship that could be used to sign a graduate transfer like we did last year with Egor.

      Kevaughn Allen could go too but given the inconsistent year he had last year he needs to come back and show he can be a consistent game in game out scorer. He disappeared in some games last year.

  11. Best wishes to a player that I believe was very good. When he and his teammates beat UK by 30, that was a really great memory to have for an older gator like me, really special. I’m confident the coaches advised him well as to what was in his best interest, which is what we owe every player.

  12. He’s a senior. All his bros are graduating. Next years team will look totally different. With him in the lineup, the Gators would have gone DEEP! Would like to see him stay just to teach Gak. I think he is making the right choice under the circumstances. I wish him the best. I wish he stays. Not about me, or the Gators. It’s about him and what he can and will achieve, nothing else.Wil mis him and will follow him. I wish him well and all God can give him. Go big man, go! Gator Nation.

  13. Why all the “hate” for Big John from some of the “fans”?? All I wish him is well! He gave his all as part of Gator Nation, the negativity is what makes the average fan think many UF fans are a bunch self centered, cry babies!!! Why, coming off a serious ACL injury, would he come back and risk that? Plus even though the probability of getting drafted is small? Waiting for NCAA to “give” him another year is not guaranteed, and the possibility of reinjury is always there lurking…

  14. Big decision for Big John. Personally, I think he made the wrong move here because coming back lighting it up for the Gators (national TV exposure, ESPN, SEC network) would give him a huge leg up on the NBA draft. Right now he’s not NBA material and will have to go overseas – where many players go to disappear from the bright lights. But, it is what it is and he’s leaving, so good luck to him wherever he lands. Thanks John for your time with us.