Replacing Chiozza will be no easy task for Gators

Florida expecting big things out of freshman PG Andrew Nembhard

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Year No. 4 is officially underway for Mike White as the Florida Gators head basketball coach. On Tuesday the school hosted its annual media day. 

Florida has made two consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and if they’re going to make it for the third year in a row they’ll need immediate contributions from a couple of young and relatively inexperienced players.

“Yeah, I don't think we're overly experienced,” said White. “I've had more experienced teams. We'll be playing a bunch of young guys. We'll be depending upon, I want to say eight underclassmen that will play, that will compete for minutes. Who knows. All eight of them may play.”

The Gators also have to replace Chris Chiozza, who graduated as the programs all-time leader in career assists. All coaches would love to have a senior point guard they can trust, but this year it’s likely that job will go to a freshman or sophomore.

“I guess this would be my second time assuming that either Andrew Nembhard or Mike Okauru wins that spot,” said White when asked when was the last time he had to rely heavily on a first-year point guard? “Mike not being a first-year guy, but it would be his first year really playing exclusively the point. First year starting, I guess.”

Even if Nembhard doesn’t win the starting nod from day one, he’s expected to contribute immediately. 

“Andrew is a very talented young man, and he's a high-level passer, he's a very high-level IQ guy, and he's going to be a really good player,” said White of his 6’5” freshman point guard. “He'll be one of the better passers that we play all year. He'll have a chance to be in the conversation to be one of the better passers in college basketball. Who knows how many assists that means, how many highlights he produces, how many minutes he'll play. I'm not sure. But that is his gift. He sees the game at a high level. He's a split-second thinker. Again, he's very intelligent. Not only is he an elite passer, he's an elite passer with size, which makes it even a little bit easier for him to deliver some passes that other guys with equal vision can't deliver.”