Mike White makes first visit to local Gator Club

White vacationed in Jacksonville as a kid

Florida coach Mike White yells to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, in Athens, Ga. Florida won 72-60. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gators basketball coach Mike White has been to Jacksonville many times before but he made his first visit to the Jacksonville Gator Club Monday night.

"I did a little surfing on the beaches here growing up," White said in a press conference before he spoke to the club. "We took a couple of family vacations here. And I have fond memories of playing over here since I've been at Florida. We've always been greeted well."

White and the Gators were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and finished the season 21-13. The Gators were never at full strength and center John Egbunu never returned from a knee injury leaving the Gators thin up front.

"I'm anxious to be healthy again," White said. "I think that this team will be potentially a little more fun to watch. We'll be able to play a few different ways. We can utilize our depth to where we can play big we can play small or we can play older or we can play younger."

The Gators will have eight freshman or sophomores on the roster next season with three returning starters and their leading scorer Jalen Hudson.

"We'll be pretty reliant on young guys," White explained. "I think it will be a fun team to watch. I think it will be hopefully a tight knit group. And I think it will be a team that will get better throughout the year."

The Gators open the season in Paradise Islands, Bahamas in the Battle for Atlantis Tournament on Nov. 21 against an undetermined opponent.