The Florida Gators men’s basketball program landed former St. Bonaventure guard Kyle Lofton via the NCAA transfer portal earlier this week. He was regarded as one of the best remaining transfers and could make an immediate impact for the Gators in 2022-23. While it may have been an under-the-radar type of move, Dick Vitale gave UF and first-year head coach Todd Golden a big thumbs up.
“The Gators (are) very lucky to get this (prime time player) from (the) transfer portal,” Vitale wrote on Twitter.
Lofton played four seasons at St. Bonaventure, earning All-Atlantic 10 honors over the last three years.
He hung around his career averages last season throughout 30 games. He finished with 12.8 points on 40.2% shooting while adding 3.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists and two steals per game.
Over four years, Lofton averaged 13.9 points on 42.1% shooting in addition to three rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Florida finished 20-14 last season, reaching the second round of the NIT. Former head coach Mike Whitewho completed his seventh season with the school, departed in March for Georgia and the Gators hired Golden.
He enters with a 57-36 career record after three years at San Francisco, completing his tenure there by making the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Golden hopes to establish March Madness success immediately in Gainesville.
“Definitely get back to the NCAA Tournament,” Golden said in a recent appearance on the College Hoops Today podcast with Jon Rothstein. “I think the expectation at this place is to get there very single year and as you build your program, you get the right people on board, our expectation is to play deep into the NCAA Tournament. I do not expect us to go to the Final Four every single year, but I expect us to be in contention to be in the Sweet 16 and be a team that’s getting really good seeds. This is a top-10 job. “
To have any sort of success, though, Golden will probably have to bump up against Auburn and head coach Bruce Pearl a couple times per year. Golden has plenty of familiarity with Pearl, as he coached under him at Auburn from 2014-16 before leaving to take up an assistant coaching job at San Francisco.
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“I can not wait for it,” Golden said of facing off against Pearl. “Bruce and I are great competitors. I have a high level of respect for him. I look up to him as a mentor. I know he has a lot of respect for me as far as my knowledge of the game. The last three years, I’ve had to experience a similar type of feeling waking up and going to play my alma mater at St. Mary’s. This will be more enjoyable. I did not enjoy waking up and going to play St. Mary’s and Randy Bennett. But I’m really excited to get in the ring with [Pearl] and see where it all plays out. “
Will Backus contributed to this report