When former Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. entered the transfer portal and began entertaining other schools he was immediately the best transfer on the market this offseason and he has taken his time making a decision. It’s been a recruitment that has featured a lot of rumors and twists and turns, but he has finally settled on a school and that is going to involve him playing his final season of college basketball for Mike White and the Florida Gators. The news was first reported by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and has since been confirmed by Blackshear via his Instagram account.
View this post on Instagram
First of all want to thank coach Buzz and the amazing staff over these past four years. This team has become my family and I am so thankful for it. I also want to thank my Blacksburg family for taking a young kid from Orlando and showing him what home is. I am so fortunate to have stepped out onto the Cassell coliseum floor walk away from Blacksburg as a graduate of Virginia Tech 🦃 My next chapter will begin in Gainesville, Florida 🐊 🔶🔷 #GoGators
This is huge for the Gators. Florida was already viewed a borderline preseason top-ten team with guards Andrew Nembhard and Noah Locke each coming off of very strong freshman seasons and then having Keyontae Johnson in the frontcourt coming off of a productive freshman season, but being undersized and then bringing in top-ten overall recruit, forward Scottie Lewis. Adding Blackshear Jr. into the fold will give them some much needed size. Florida was probably going to struggle on the glass next season, but now they are adding a guy who has averaged 6.0 rebounds per game during his career.
Not only is Blackshear a very good rebounder, but he is an elite offensive rebounder. He is coming off of a season in which he averaged 3.1 offensive rebounds per game. He is also a very efficient offensive player, posting a true shooting percentage of 59.8% in his career and in the three full seasons he has played he has racked up 1,152 points.
Blackshear has also showed the ability to strongly improve a quality of his game each year. His rebounding has improved every season, but each season he has also improved his overall offensive game, now showing that he can knock down the occasional three, even though he is nowhere near an elite three-point shooter, he is still a threat and he has become a better passer each season that he has played.
To add to his improvement each year he has shown improvement on the defensive end of the floor over the course of his career. Last season he improved his defensive rating from 99.6 to 96.3 and he improved his defensive win shares from 1.4 to 2.0.
Mike White has already pulled off a lot of recruiting victories in the past calendar year, bringing in the seventh-ranked recruiting class and second-ranked class in the SEC according to 247 Sports, a class that includes Scottie Lewis (five-stars), Tre Mann (five-stars) and Omar Payne (four-stars) as the headliners of the class. He also landed Louisiana Tech transfer Anthony Duruji, although he’ll have to sit out a year before he can help them in games. But this is perhaps the biggest recruiting victory in the short-term because of the production Blackshear has provided in his career, although Lewis and Mann are five-star recruits. But he also landed Blackshear over SEC rivals Kentucky and Tennessee.
So after missing the NCAA Tournament this past season, Mike White has Florida set up to be really good this season and adding the size, experience and production of Kerry Blackshear Jr. will all but guarantee the Gators will be a preseason top-ten team.
One concern for this team could be depth, but on the bench they have some talent as Mann and Payne are more than likely going to come off the bench, so while they are unproven on the bench they do have talent and it wouldn’t be surprising one bit for the bench to develop over the course of the year and make Florida a team that could legitimately be a team that can win games with it’s bench, which is dangerous for opposing teams because they’ll have a really good starting lineup.
Top Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images