Florida’s rebuild begins with transfers McKissic, Felder

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — After a week of departures that saw four of his players enter the transfer portal and two more turn pro, Florida coach Mike White took the first steps in replacing them Friday.

White got commitments from Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic and Boston College forward CJ Felder. Both announced their landing spot on social media.

McKissic led the Roos with 17.2 points a game this season and was a finalist for the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year Award. He will be a graduate transfer in Gainesville during the 2021-22 season.

Felder, a 6-foot-7 South Carolina native, averaged 9.7 points and 5.9 rebounds as a sophomore for the Eagles this season. Felder had offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, UConn, LSU, Murray State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Xavier.

The duo could give Florida as many as five transfers in White’s starting lineup next season, which would be a first for the program but hardly new ground given the changing landscape of college basketball.

Big man Colin Castleton (Michigan), point guard Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State), and forward Anthony Duruji (Louisiana Tech) also are transfers. Castleton put his name in the NBA draft in hopes of getting feedback on ways to improve. He did not hire an agent and is expected to stay in school.

McKissic averaged 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals and shot 43% from 3-point range. The 6-foot-3 Missouri native was named the Summit League’s Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the conference’s All-Summit League Second Team.

White still has more mining to do of the transfer portal.

Guards Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis entered the NBA draft with plans of hiring agents. Shooting guard Noah Locke, forward Omar Payne, backup point guard Ques Glover and reserve forward Osayi Osifo entered the portal in hopes of finding more playing time or a more prominent role elsewhere.

Teams across the country are dealing with defections and rebuilds as players take advantage of lenient NCAA transfer rules and a portal that’s ballooned to nearly 1,200 guys seeking new places to play.

White has had more success with transfers than high school recruits, landing Jalen Hudson, Canyon Barry, Egor Koulechov and Kerry Blackshear since replacing NBA-bound Billy Donovan in 2015.

Meanwhile, 13 of the 17 high school recruits White signed in the last five years are gone. His entire 2016 and 2017 classes transferred. Only Keyontae Johnson remains from the 2018 class, which lost talented point guard Andrew Nembhard to Gonzaga last year and now is without Locke.

Seldom-used center Jason Jitoboh is the lone holdover from White’s highly touted 2019 class that featured Lewis and Mann.

The Gators signed one recruit for their 2021 class: talented guard Kowacie Reeves.

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