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Gators get finalist for defensive player of year as grad transfer

Florida, which has had four players enter the transfer portal this week, receives a commitment from Brandon McKissic out of Missouri-Kansas City.
University of Missouri-Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic looks for an opening during a game against Connecticut on Nov. 11, 2018.
University of Missouri-Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic looks for an opening during a game against Connecticut on Nov. 11, 2018. [ STEPHEN DUNN | AP ]
Published Apr. 2
Updated Apr. 2

GAINESVILLE — After a week of departures that saw four of his players enter the transfer portal and two more turn pro, Florida basketball coach Mike White took the first step in replacing them on Friday.

White got a commitment from University of Missouri-Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic, a senior who led the Roos with 17.2 points a game this past season and was a finalist for the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year Award.

McKissic announced his landing spot on social media. He will be a graduate transfer in Gainesville during the 2021-22 season.

He could be one of at least four transfers in Florida’s starting lineup next season, joining big man Colin Castleton (Michigan), point guard Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State) and forward Anthony Duruji (Louisiana Tech). Castleton put his name in the NBA draft in hopes of getting feedback on ways to improve. He did not hire an agent and is expected to stay in school.

The Gators also are in the mix for Boston College’s CJ Felder, a 6-foot-7 forward from South Carolina who averaged 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds as a sophomore for the Eagles this season. Felder also has offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, UConn, LSU, Murray State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Xavier.

McKissic averaged 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals and shot 43 percent from 3-point range. The a 6-foot-3 Missouri native was named the Summit League’s Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the conference’s All-Summit League second team.

White still has more mining to do of the transfer portal.

Guards Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis entered the NBA draft with plans of hiring agents. Shooting guard Noah Locke, forward Omar Payne, backup point guard Ques Glover and reserve forward Osayi Osifo entered the portal in hopes of finding more playing time or a more prominent role elsewhere. White also lost top assistant coach Jordan Mincy last month after he took the head-coaching job in Jacksonville.

Teams across the country are dealing with defections and rebuilds as players take advantage of lenient NCAA transfer rules and a portal that has ballooned to nearly 1,200 guys seeking new places to play.

White has had more success with transfers than high school recruits, landing Jalen Hudson, Canyon Barry, Egor Koulechov and Kerry Blackshear since replacing NBA-bound Billy Donovan in 2015.

Meanwhile, 13 of the 17 high school recruits White signed in the past five years are gone. His entire 2016 and 2017 classes transferred. Only Keyontae Johnson remains from the 2018 class, which lost talented point guard Andrew Nembhard to Gonzaga last year and now is without Locke.

Seldom-used center Jason Jitoboh is the lone holdover from White’s highly touted 2019 class that featured Lewis and Mann.

The Gators signed one recruit for their 2021 class: talented guard Kowacie Reeves.

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By MARK LONG

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