Transfer Kyle Lofton eager to live up to standards of past Florida Gators point guards

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

The point guard position for Florida basketball has produced its share of all-conference performers.

Before becoming White Chocolate in the NBA, Jason Williams’ brief stint with the Gators included scoring 31 points at Rupp Arena in a UF upset at Kentucky in 1998.

From there, former Gator point guards Anthony Roberson, Taurean Green, Nick Calathes, Erving Walker, Scottie Wilbekin, Kasey Hill, Chris Chiozza, Andrew Nembhard and Tre Mann all earned All-SEC honors at different points in their college careers.

It’s a high standard to live up to, but fifth-year senior point guard Kyle Lofton is eager to give it a shot. A transfer from St. Bonaventure, Lofton was considered one of the top talents in the portal, a floor general capable of scoring and creating for others. With the Bonnies last season, Lofton averaged 12.8 points while ranking second in the Atlantic 10 in assists (5.9 apg) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3-1).

“Whenever my number is called, I’m willing to do what I’ve got to do,” Lofton said. “Whether it’s get in the paint, make a play for my teammates, I can score it myself so whatever I need to do to help my team win.” 

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How did Kyle Lofton look in first open practice?

Kyle Lofton practices with the Gators on June 7, 2022 at the Florida Basketball Practice Complex in Gainesville.

Former Florida coach Billy Donovan valued scoring point guards for their ability to put opposing defenses in a bind. The 6-foot-3 Lofton displayed his versatility scoring the basketball during the scrimmage portion of UF’s opening practice on Tuesday, with a three-pointer from the wing and a strong take down the right side of the lane and finish through contact to draw a three-point play.

But Lofton also didn’t force his own offense, passing out of double teams when they came to record a handful of assists.

“First and foremost, he’s a great leader,” Florida coach Todd Golden said. “He commands respect from his teammates, but he also does a really good job of holding them accountable in a way that they want to run through a wall for him and he’s just a really, really talented winner as a player.

“Now, he’s not an incredible shooter, he’s not the best athlete in the world, but he ends up winning everything he’s doing. He’s that guy. He does all the little things that you want as a point guard. He uses his voice, which is really important to me.”

Lofton will get the keys to run UF’s team, which includes fellow fifth-year seniors Colin Castleton and Myreon Jones. But Lofton also has embraced becoming a leader to younger players on the roster.

“It’s really important, especially being an older guy, obviously I’m in my fifth year now,” Lofton said. “Just coming in, showing that we’re here to win, foremost, all the personal accolades, stuff like that, it will come when we win. So just making sure that everybody is doing what they’ve got to do, even myself, just day by day coming in here focused and that’s going to make us better.” 

Kyle Lofton finds a mentor in Taurean Green

Lofton has found a mentor inside the building in Green, who returned to the program as director of player development after a successful overseas career. Green was the steady point guard who guided the Gators to back-to-back national titles in 2006-07 while scoring 1,174 career points.

“I talk to him every day,” Lofton said. “He’s like one of my big brothers. When I get a chance to, I work out with him a lot. He’s just dropping some knowledge on how to win and how to be successful at the college level.” 

Another factor that impacted Lofton’s decision to come to UF was to play in an up-tempo system Golden intends to employ in his first season as UF’s coach. At St. Bonaventure last season, Lofton piloted an offense that ranked 254th in the country in adjusted offensive tempo, per KenPom.

“My old school, we played slow, kind of, less possessions,” Lofton said. “I think now we’re going to speed the tempo up, get more possessions, I think that’s going to be better for me.”