Ruzhentsev signs professional contract, won't return to UF

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer
Florida Gators forward Samson Ruzhentsev (2) signed a pro deal overseas.

Florida sophomore forward Samson Ruzhentsev will not return to the men's basketball program after signing a contract with KK Mega Basket out of Belgrade, Serbia, according to a release from the ABA league. 

Ranked a top-50 prospect in the 2020 signing class, the 19-year-old Ruzhentsev signed with the Gators out of Hamilton Heights (Tenn.), but he would average just 7.9 minutes last season while playing sporadically. 

He scored a collegiate-high eight points in Florida’s 76-58 loss to Kentucky last season, but Ruzhentsev was expected to command a larger role in UF’s offense during the 2021-22 season. 

With Ruzhentsev’s departure, the Gators now have two open roster spots, and that’s before factoring in the undetermined playing status of forward Keyontae Johnson. 

The Gators reconvened three weeks ago for summer workouts, but Ruzhentsev didn’t join the team, instead staying back to train in Russia. 

Now, the Gators will do what they did after the conclusion of the 2020-21 season: scour the NCAA’s transfer portal for talent to replace their departing player.