Photo: Denzel Aberdeen; Credit: University Athletic Association (Jordan McKendrick)
There is an uncharacteristic buzz that surrounds Florida basketball in the summer months.
Seeing drastic changes taking place from top to bottom — with coach Mike White, his assistants and four starters departing from Gainesville — the University of Florida brought in San Francisco coach Todd Golden to take over.
While a mass exodus usually indicates that significant time is needed to rebuild, all the right pieces have fallen into place. The changing of the guard at the helm of the program could serve as a major turning point needed to break away from the troubling state of mediocrity experienced recently.
In an effort to rebuild the program to its former status of consistency and excellence achieved under Billy Donovan, Golden made it a focus to attract talented transfers to fill the array of holes presented on the roster.
Adding to the promising members held over from 2021-22, the Gators have assembled a unit more than capable of taking the floor next season.
The mix of new and familiar faces has them reconciling the program sooner rather than later under new leadership.
Looking forward to Golden’s first season at the helm, AllGators plans to profile the 12 scholarship players taking up roster spots as they look to accomplish that mission next season. We’ll start by examining the backcourt and work on the front over the next few weeks.
with Kyle Lofton AND Trey Bonhamprofiles done, next up is the man who fills the last guard spot on the Gators’ depth chart, a true freshman Denzel Aberdeen.
Aberdeen’s passage to Florida was smooth sailing amid rocky waters. The waves he endured during his recruiting process created room for wiggle room. He didn’t.
Choosing the Gators over Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Georgia Tech in September 2021, the combined guard of Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.) committed to the previous staff under Mike White.
He was originally part of a three-man signing class in the 2022 cycle.
However, while the Gators endured jumping the White ship at SEC rival Georgia after Florida’s SEC Tournament loss to Texas A&M, Aberdeen was tasked with assessing its standing in the class. As were his fellow signatories Malik Reneau AND Jalen Reed.
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Both Reneau and Reed left the Gators due to the state of uncertainty the program experienced. Instead, they chose to continue their playing careers at Indiana and LSU respectively.
Aberdeen was the lone survivor of the group, remaining steadfast in his commitment to suit up with the Gators after discussions with Golden confirmed his decision was still the right one.
Despite a hectic 2021-22 season and quick changes to start the offseason, Aberdeen’s loyalty to the orange and blue shone through as he stamped his ticket to Gainesville.
He enrolled at UF ahead of the summer training camp that began June 6.
2022-23 Season Role/Projection
Arriving as a newcomer to the Gators’ backfield, Aberdeen will likely see the floor minimally, if at all, next year.
While it once looked like he might step into the starting role out of necessity, the transfers that have slipped ahead of him on the depth chart will make the ball into the Golden Era.
Not getting thrown into the fire should be considered a luxury for the former three-star guard out of high school. This allows time to work through the appropriate development plan for the skilled but raw prospect.
While it may take some time for him to find his footing at the college level, his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame suggests a smooth transition from high school to college when he sees the floor.
His scoring prowess is the promising tool he has in his bag when that time comes. However, his ability to do the little things – facilitate and defend – have flashed signs of potential.
The length of his limbs and the rare height at his disposal for someone who takes up a slot will help his progress, especially on the defensive end.
Able to excel in a fast-paced system in Dr. Phillips, Aberdeen’s top talent equips him to take over the starting point guard role when the likes of Lofton and Bonham step up.
As true freshmen who traveled to campus this summer, Aberdeen projects to be a part of the senior project for Golden and Co. to become a starting caliber guard.
This effort may take a year or two, but time is on their side. Fortunately, so is Aberdeen’s skill level.
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