Nembhard’s announcement — soundtracked beautifully by Kanye West’s “Everything I’m Am,” which prominently features the refrain “Here we go again” and uses “And I’m back to tear it up” as a bar — comes just hours prior to Wednesday’s midnight deadline for players to withdraw themselves from consideration for the 2019 NBA Draft.
But even though it’s news big enough for ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski to break, it’s not unexpected, as Florida having its own video ready to welcome Nembhard back helps demonstrate.
Few thought Nembhard would ultimately leave Florida after just a single season of collegiate competition, given that his promising freshman year still showed plenty of room for improvement in his game. Nembhard’s ceiling is still the NBA level, certainly, but a year of occasionally frustrating finishing, somewhat spotty shooting, and difficulty with consistently asserting his brand of athleticism — one that relies on his strength and long frame as a lead guard, rather than top-level quickness — against collegians did not have him drawing NBA buzz at year’s end.
And Nembhard’s pre-Draft process appears to have reinforced that sense that he needs more seasoning. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine, instead getting an invite to the G-League Combine, and did not perform so spectacularly at it as to be considered a likely NBA Draft pick.
As such, his return to college is probably the smartest move for him.
It’s also a boon for Florida, which will now have Nembhard to lead a team that also returns sharpshooting guard Noah Locke and adds top recruits Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann, among others. While the Gators could have gotten by without Nembhard in 2019-20, having him to man the point should give Florida the pieces to be a serious SEC contender and possibly make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
With Nembhard officially back in the fold, Florida’s focus will now turn to Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear, who is contemplating a professional career either in the NBA or elsewhere or a potential graduate transfer — including to Florida — among his options. If Blackshear withdraws himself from NBA Draft consideration before Wednesday’s deadline, it will only be the first step toward Florida landing him, as he will still likely be deciding between forgoing a final season of collegiate eligibility to go pro in Europe or staying stateside and attempting to turn himself into an NBA prospect with that last year in college basketball.