White willing to explore transfer market

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With Florida missing the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, first-year coach Mike White knows there’s work to be done to improve the roster for next season.

Don’t be surprised if one of those avenues is through bringing in a transfer or two. White said he’s willing to explore the transfer market this offseason.

“Potentially, we’re open to all avenues of improving this program, improving this roster,” White said. “Year in and year out, we’ll recruit high school kids, prep school kids, transfers, fifth-year transfers, whatever we see fit. Obviously a lot of it will depend on who is attracted to you and the situation that you have for them.

“I’m sure we will have some movement on this roster as all teams throughout the country will have. Year in and year out, the transfer rate, just continues to increase and it’s always evident with transitions and it’s part of the process everywhere. I’m sure we’re gonna have a couple of scholarships open up. And we’re always evaluating the landscape and we’ll make some of those decisions when that time comes.”

Florida has had some success with transfers in recent seasons, including current senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech), current sophomore center John Egbunu (USF), former guard Mike Rosario (Rutgers) and former center Vernon Macklin (Georgetown).

But there’s always a risk of bringing in too many transfers rather than developing four-year players. Florida’s 2014-15 sqaud, which went 16-17, was exceedingly transfer heavy with center Jon Horford (Michigan), guard Eli Carter (Rutgers), forward Alex Murphy (Duke) and Finney-Smith (Virginia Tech).

White brought in a transfer from the junior college ranks last season, forward Justin Leon (Shawnee CC), who showed flashes of being productive before suffering a concussion in late January. Leon started at small forward at 11 of 34 games for the Gators this season and is averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range.

Florida’s main areas of need in the offseason include shooting and a power forward to replace Finney-Smith (14.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg). There are a few interesting names on the transfer market that could fit UF’s needs, including Richmond guard Josh Jones, South Alabama guard Taishaun Johnson and Florida A&M guard Malcolm Bernard, a grad transfer who averaged 14.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 4.3 apg for the Rattlers last season.