Florida basketball: F Colin Castleton All-SEC first team, G Riley Kugel All-SEC freshman team
Florida forward Colin Castleton earned All-SEC first team and All-SEC defensive team honors on Monday, while Riley Kugel earned All-SEC freshman of the year honors in a vote by coaches throughout the league.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Castleton finished the season sixth in the SEC in scoring (16.0 ppg), sixth in rebounding (7.7) and second in blocked shots (3.0 bpg) before being sidelined when he broke his hand Feb. 15 against Ole Miss.
Castleton's 3.0 blocks per game rank fourth in the nation and are a Florida single-season record. He joined Dorian Finney-Smith as the only transfers to join the 1,000-point club at Florida, and his 1,165 points at UF rank 41st in program history. His 194 blocked shots are third all-time for the Gators, and his 2.49 blocked shots per game are a program record.
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Castleton earned All-SEC honors for the third straight season, becoming just the fourth Florida player to achieve the feat and first since guard Kenny Boynton (2011-13).
Alabama forward Brandon Miller earned both SEC player of the year and freshman of the year honors, while Texas A&M's Buzz Williams and Vanderbilt's Jerry Stackhouse were named co-SEC coaches of the year. Vanderbilt center Liam Robbins (3.2 blocks per game) beat out Castleton for SEC defensive player of the year.
Kugel earns SEC freshman of the week
Kugel (9.7 ppg) also earned SEC freshman of the week honors on Monday and has taken on more of a scoring load for the Gators since Castleton's injury. Kugel averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, and two assists in Florida wins over Georgia and LSU.
Against LSU, Kugel scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, helping the Gators rally from down 12 points to beat the Tigers, 79-67, on Saturday at the O'Connell Center.
Kugel has posted eight straight double-figure scoring games, the longest streak in SEC play for a Florida freshman since Bradley Beal (10 straight, 2011-12). He's averaging 18.3 points over that eight-game span and has led the Gators in scoring in four of five games since Castleton was lost for the season on Feb. 15.
"He hasn't let his defense slip, either," Florida coach Todd Golden said. "I feel like he's done really well on that end of the floor as well, and a guy that's really coming of age.
"Usually, your biggest jump as a player is from your freshman to sophomore year. Because of the way he's played and the way our team had kind of changed up, he's coming of age now."
The 8th-seeded Gators (16-15, 9-9 SEC) open SEC Tournament play on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn., against 9-seed Mississippi State