Updated: Hudson returning for senior season at Florida

Texas Tech guard Davide Moretti (25) defends against Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) during the first half of a second-round game at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Dallas, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

[Updated: 5:20 p.m., 5-29-18] After going through a handful of NBA workouts, Florida guard Jalen Hudson decided the right move was to build off of his high-scoring junior campaign with the Gators.

The 6-foot-6 Hudson will be back in a Gator uniform for his senior season after pulling his name from the draft Tuesday. He averaged a team-high 15.5 points last season, scoring 20 or more points eight times during the 2017-18 season. That included a career-high 35 points against Gonzaga last November at the PK80 Tournament in Portland. Hudson was for the most part efficient in 2017-18, shooting 45.4 percent from the floor and 40.2 percent from 3-point range.

“Exciting day for the Gators and for Jalen,” Florida coach Mike White said at the SEC spring meetings in Destin.

In league play, Hudson earned SEC player of the week honors three times while averaging 13.8 points per game.

With Hudson’s return, the Gators won’t be short on experience heading into the 2018-19 season. Including Hudson, Florida will bring back four players with a combined 218 career starts. That list includes senior guard KeVaughn Allen, a three-year starter, along with senior center Kevarrius Hayes and redshirt junior forward Keith Stone.

The Gators could use that experience in an improved SEC. Defending SEC co-champion Auburn had three players — point guard Jared Harper, shooting guard Bryce Brown and center Austin Wiley — announce they are returning to school after putting their names in for the draft. Auburn guard Mustapha Heron also pulled his name from the draft but is seeking a hardship waiver to transfer to a school closer to his native Connecticut. SEC co-champion Tennessee also is bringing back all five of its starters in 2018-19.

Hudson took part in predraft workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets in early May, but had been practicing and working out with UF throughout the predraft process. Some mock draft websites projected Hudson as a second-round pick in April, but his stock fell as more players declared for the draft

Hudson is the first UF player to return after putting his name in the draft since former forward Alex Tyus, who came back for his senior season in 2010-11 to help lead the Gators to an Elite Eight appearance.

“There’s nothing wrong with not being a guaranteed first-round pick right now,” White said in Destin. “That wasn’t expected a year ago. But he made a lot of headway. He built his brand. He helped the Gators have a good year.”


    • Excuse but isn’t he supposed to be attending the university to further his education and not his basketball game? I thought that these were students first and athletes second.**

      ** sar·casm: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

      • The real question is are they students, athletes, or businessmen. The answer is the University of Florida Athletic Association is a revenue producing business, and they are businessmen.

        If some junior engineering scholarship whiz boy came out with THE next thing in gadgetry, got a patent, and got a business deal for leaving school to join a product development team at a business, would we question whether he should be a student first and a businessman second, or would we call him a smart businessman?

        A smart businessman considers his options.

  1. coach white made an astute comment about how building a brand through winning can pay off for the player, so lets hope this spreads into a nice improvement off the last two squads that have been good – go gators, lets hope Jalen has another big season.

    • Apparently the invitation info was not entirely true. He was on an alternative list and never got the invite. At least that is what I read the other day. Without the combine, very hard to show his athleticism and skills the same way through other workouts.

  2. Smart decision. I don’t know if he would have been drafted. But this way he gets to show everyone that he is not a one hit wonder and what he can really d. He will improve his draft stock. We will be a much better and deeper team with his return.

  3. Last season Jalen could be an almost unstoppable scoring machine one game, and disappear the next. This is a good move for him because if he can be more consistently good he is first round talent.

    • You are exactly right Steve. Inconsistent is the best description of his play. Kevaughn Allen is the same way. Some games great, some games they did not even seem like they were playing. Jalen needs to hit the weight room in the off season to add strength and work on his free throws. He was really weak at the free throw line considering his outside shot was good. He has a chance to really show his skills in a competitive league. If he shows improvement he could see his draft stock rise next year. Go Gators!

  4. This means that some deserving players are going to get fewer minutes. But, on the other hand, White doesn’t know who to play anyway, so we’ll see.

    Nobody will complain about Hudson’s points but this team needs leadership and toughness — Hudson brings neither. The whole team is soft (exclude the frosh). If someone knows just one tough, gritty, never-give-up player right now, identify that person please.

    Combine White with the passive players and the Gators will probably disappoint and frustrate like last season — and not meet expectations.

    Oh, and I can’t fail to mention an example of Snowflake’s coaching. Hayes will start next season. Unless Hayes pulls an Incredible Hulk in the offseason, he shouldn’t be a starter under any circumstances! No circumstances where he starts! How else can I say that? However, Mike White is the HC.

  5. Sports, yes, but what the heck, let me throw this question at you: How do the think the progressive America-destroyers will react when the GOP gains seats in both the House and Senate in November? It will happen!!

  6. Good move by Hudson if someone kicks him in the a__ __ to play hard, and if White develops an inside presence, and if someone steps up to take the point guard spot. Other than that, easy season for the Gators. There are a few other Gators who need to step up to their reputation as high school stars.