The final two items on Florida’s roster are final on campus as new freshman Riley Kugel and German product Aleks Szymczyk arrive on campus.
Kugel, the 48th-ranked player in the Class of 2022, was thought to be struggling academically in his senior high school season, but the Gators were undeterred, confident he would be able to graduate with notes more than capable to get into UF. I’m told his (more than adequate) grades were seized weeks ago, but Kugel and the Gators were waiting for the NCAA clearinghouse to give him the green light. They agreed and Kugel arrived in Gainesville on Thursday, August 18.
— 🇺🇸🇧🇸🇭🇹 Malik – 💉 – the 5-10 monster (@MalikG) August 19, 2022
From nearby Orlando, it wasn’t a huge blow for Kugel, but one that must have been a little frustrating given the timing. He missed several optional practices that almost the entire team attended and it would have been an opportunity for him to bond with his teammates and show off the abilities that put him in the top 50 rookies. This is a deep Florida formation with lots of proven players and a lot more wing depth than they’ve had in recent years so it will be a battle for a few minutes and Kugel will unfortunately be a bit late after not being able to make it to some recent practices.
At 6’5” with established shooting ability and major athleticism, he will have the opportunity to work his way through the rotation and now that he is on campus and ready to acclimate to his new home, this battle for a role will make it start to escalate right away.
Kugel will also be able to reconnect with high school teammate Denzel Aberdeen, who is also a Gator. One of the best backcourts in the country at Dr. Phillips High in Orlando, these two have some built-in chemistry and could dominate next to each other again in the future in Gainesville.
The other Gator to arrive on campus is Aleks Szymczyk (pronounced SHIM-chick) who was most recently in Germany at the International Basketball Academy in Munich while learning about professional basketball in the Pro B league.
Szymczyk’s commitment to the Gators came late in the offseason and he had to deal with obtaining a visa to enter the United States to study, so he was also unable to join the team as soon as he and the team would have liked. .
His listed height and weight vary depending on the source, but you’ll usually see something around 6’10”, 235 lbs and watch the movie available which looks about right for the tall man with the frame of a major top player on the front line.
Since arriving in Florida and landing his initial goals, Todd Golden had made it known that he was looking to build depth in the front court and that with the market being extremely competitive for players 6’9” and taller, he needed to get creative with an international player in Szymczyk. Golden had played international recruiting in the past at San Francisco and he knew exactly what to do when scouring the world for a player who could bring something different to his frontcourt.
Szymczyk is a stretchy big man whose best offensive weapon right now is his jump shot. It gives the Gators a different dimension that they currently don’t have, and while it doesn’t look like Szymczyk will be called upon to contribute from day one if the Gators don’t get the shot they want from their zone. forward and Szymczyk proves he can stroke it, there’s a chance he’ll get a peek. Plus, one of the main reasons Golden knew he wanted to improve his frontcourt depth is the fact that Colin Castleton, Jason Jitoboh and CJ Felder all missed a lot of injury time last year and he wanted a contingency plan. While all of these players should enter the 2022-23 season in full health, given the record, Golden was wise to have another option.
In an ideal situation, Szymczyk will have the opportunity to spend time developing before having to play important minutes. According to the scouting service, Euro Hoops Szymczyk is a projected average major player, which doesn’t mean it was a bad pass from Golden or that he can’t be a Florida caliber player, but it probably suggests that he wouldn’t. expect to command huge minutes right away. For that reason, finally bringing him to campus so he can acclimate to life in America and basketball in the SEC is a huge step.
Now that the Gators have everyone on campus, they can start assembling as a team, with plenty of time until November.