Mike White’s Florida Gators received great news on The Fourth of July, as center Colin Castleton announced he was withdrawing from the NBA Draft process to return to school.
“I’m excited to announce I’ll be back at the University of Florida next season to continue competing with my teammates and working toward my degree,” Castleton said in a social media post. “I love being a Gator and I can’t wait to keep representing the orange and blue.”
Castleton was a big surprise for UF this past year after transferring from Michigan. He quickly emerged as a force in the paint, garnering second-team All-SEC honors after averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game.
Castleton started 21 of 24 games, shooting at a 59.7 percent clip from the field. He made 78.1 percent of his free throws.
Castleton played 43 minutes and produced 19 points, 14 rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and one steal in Florida’s 75-70 overtime win over Virginia Tech in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Castleton had another double-double in an 81-78 second-round loss to Oral Roberts. He finished with 14 points, 10 boards, three blocks and one steal.
Castleton hit 11-of-14 field-goal attempts in the NCAAT and also made 11-of-12 free-throw attempts. He enjoyed his best performance of the season in an 85-80 comeback win at 11th-ranked West Virginia. Castleton had 21 points, 10 rebounds, eight blocks and three assists against the Mountaineers.
Florida’s 2021-22 starting lineup will most likely feature Tyree Appleby as the starting point guard. The Gators have a pair of wings — Penn St. transfer Myreon Jones and UMKC transfer Brandon McKissic — that can play the two or the three. Anthony Duruji will probably start at the four and be joined in the frontcourt by Castleton.
The top reserves will include Charleston Southern transfer wing Phlandrous Fleming, Boston College transfer forward CJ Felder, 6-foot-11, 285-pound junior center Jason Jitoboh and freshman wing Kowacie Reeves, a high four-star recruit out of Macon, GA.
UF has announced some of its non-conference schedule in recent weeks. The Gators will participate in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Thanksgiving week at Suncoast Credit Union Arena. Although the matchups aren’t set yet, White’s team will play twice against two of the other three teams in the field that include Ohio St., California and Seton Hall.
Florida will face Maryland at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn on Dec. 12. The Gators will take on South Florida in Sunrise on Dec. 18. Finally, they’ll host Oklahoma St. in the SEC/Big 12 Classic on Jan. 29.
UF has 50/1 odds to win its third national title in program history at DraftKings.