After a roller coaster season, it seemed only fitting to make the Florida Gators wait until the final minute of CBS’ Selection Sunday to find out their NCAA Tournament fate.
“Yeah, I definitely did (think UF would be invited), but you never know, you never really know because it’s all hearsay, so you never really know for sure,” senior Jalen Hudson said Monday. “I don’t know if we have any connections with the selection committee or not, but they were just telling us ‘we’re not really sure’ and so we had to wait until the last bracket to find out, so it was kind of scary for a minute.”
Hudson is more of a low-key basketball player when it comes to talking trash, yet Florida’s senior couldn’t help but pick up his phone after learning the Gators would face Nevada on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Hudson had to text twins Caleb and Cody Martin, two standout guards on the transfer-laden No. 7-seed Nevada Wolf Pack.
“Literally, like, maybe a second after they showed that we were playing each other, I sent them the ‘eyes’ emoji, and they both responded immediately,” Hudson said. “One of them said ‘Yes sir’, the other one said ‘Let’s get it’.
“(They’re) like family. I know their mom really well.”
Then, Hudson went back to business.
“I’ll probably let it die, I haven’t texted them since they sent that back,” he said. “Just trying to get ready for them. It’s going to be fun.”
Hudson has known the Martin twins for nearly eight years — their relationship began blossoming as high school freshmen in Richmond, Virginia, as teammates on ‘Team Loaded’, an Amateur Athletic Union basketball team — although the Martin twins initially hail from a town of around 6,000 people.
“They’re from North Carolina, yeah Mocksville, North Carolina,” he said. “Small town.”
Like Hudson, Caleb and Cody initially stayed close to home — Hudson at Virginia Tech, the Martins bound for North Carolina State.
“We played them twice a year, my freshman and sophomore year, and my last meeting we got them at home at Virginia Tech,” Hudson said. “I think we played them four times, we split 2-2.”
The Martins experienced modest success at first, but after an inconsistent two years with the Wolf Pack the duo sought a new home. Now, after two standout seasons on a Nevada team starting five transfers, a professional career seems in the cards for both Caleb and Cody.
First, however, it’s time to settle the score.
“It’s going to be super exciting, they’re super competitive. But it’s going to be a war,” Hudson said. “Especially at this time in the season. We have to win or we’re coming back here, so it’s going to be a war, even though they are considered family.”
The Gators, ranked 14th in KenPom defensive efficiency heading into the NCAA Tournament, may need to utilize Hudson’s familiarity with the opposition in order to prevail in the first round.
“One of them is more of a scorer, Caleb Martin. If I were to compare him to somebody, I would compare him to kind of like a Bryce Brown from Auburn. He puts up a lot of shots, he’s kind of a volume guy. Once he gets hot, it’s super hard to slow him down,” Hudson said. “And they’re both 6-foot-7, super long. Cody’s more of like a point guard, more of a passer. When we were younger, he actually played the 4, so if he feels like he has a smaller guy on him he may try and actually post up, because he did that when we were younger. They’re both super versatile. Cody doesn’t shoot the three as well as Caleb, but they’re very good players, very, very good players. I think they’ll play at the next level, for sure.”
What: NCAA West Regional First Round
Who: Florida (19-15) vs. Nevada (29-4)
When: 6:50 p.m. Thursday
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa