At last week’s SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida coach Mike White said the addition of grad transfer Canyon Barry could benefit a returning UF player as well.
White said that Barry is open to teaching John Egbunu to shoot free-throws underhanded in an effort to improve the returning junior center’s percentage. Barry shot 84.5 percent from the FT line at College of Charleston last season after learning the underhanded method from his father, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry.
“Canyon is really excited about developing a relationship with John Egbunu to see if he can get him to change his style, to get him to go Rick Barry style,” White said. “That will be a process, of course. We’ll see where that relationship heads and if John’s open to it or not.”
Egbunu made a team-high 173 trips to the free-throw last season but shot just 53.2 percent (92-173). The 6-foot-11 Egbunu showed a knack for making clutch free throws down the stretch against LSU and Mississippi State, but also struggled mightily from the line in a key home game against Kentucky (3-11). As a team last season, Florida shot an SEC-worst 64.7 percent from the FT line.
First, of course, Egbunu would need to open to learning the underhand style. But even if he was, he won’t have much time to learn or perfect it. Egbunu suffered a ligament tear in his thumb last March and is not expected to be cleared for basketball activities until September.
White said he’s pleased with the addition of Barry and Virginia Tech transfer Jalen Hudson, a 6-5 junior shooting guard who won’t be eligible to play until 2017-18.
“We wanted to find a good fifth-year guy, so we were involved with a few of those guys, a fifth-year scorer, slash shooter, one or the other or potentially both,” White said. “That’s what we’ve gotten with Canyon. He’s a really talented kid to almost get 20 a game, and to do it against a pretty good schedule, had big games against high-level opponents. Obviously it’s in his bloodlines. He’s a terrific student, as well. He’s going to be really good for our program. Most positively, he can help right away. So you’re bringing in a veteran. A proven scorer, a proven experience guy.
“And then we wanted to have a sit-out wing because we know we have a chance this year to have potentially anywhere from three to five scholarships open up. With those three to five guys that will lead the charge for this year’s team, all of them potentially are going to be if not double-figure scorers or at least close to it. So we wanted to have a proven scorer sitting out this year, waiting in the wings, developing that would have another couple of year left. Jalen gives us that. Jalen Hudson’s a guy he’s had big individual games in young career at Virginia Tech. He’s somewhat proven, but he’s still somewhat young in his career too and has room for development too. He can shoot it and he can score. We’re excited about him.”
ESPN.com came out with its updated Class of 2017 Top 100 rankings, and it’s clear that White’s recruiting is trending upward. After signing no top 100 prospects in the Class of 2016, White has two top 60 prospects lined up for the Class of 2017, point guard commitment Shai Alexander (50) and wing commitment DeAundre Ballard (56). The Gators also are in the mix for Collin Sexton (26), 6-foot-1 five-star point guard prospect from Mableton, Ga