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Florida’s Keyontae Johnson to return for junior season

The talented wing had been a buzzy 2020 NBA Draft prospect.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators sophomore Keyontae Johnson will return to school for his junior season, he announced Tuesday via social media.

The news first came via a report from the Florida Basketball Hour podcast.

An athletic wing player who often served as an undersized power forward for the Gators in his sophomore year, Johnson’s prowess as a scorer (14 points per game), shooter (60 percent on twos, 38.8 percent on threes), and rebounder (7.1 rebounds per game and eight double-doubles, five of them in Florida’s last nine contests) made him arguably Florida’s best player and an All-SEC first-team selection.

Johnson also has substantial room to grow — his shot, while accurate, could yet turn deadly, he has things to learn as an individual and team defender, and his playmaking could develop — as a player, despite already improving significantly on the leaper and athlete he was renowned as coming out of high school. And while Johnson was earning buzz as a potential second-rounder in the 2020 NBA Draft, improving on his sophomore season’s form could make him a legitimate first-rounder in 2021, not to mention one of the better players in all of college basketball.

Johnson joins five-star freshman Scottie Lewis in announcing a return to Florida for the 2020-21 season — still obviously one without an affirmative start date, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic — and the duo will await the decision of sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard. If Nembhard, who went through the pre-NBA Draft process in 2019 without hiring an agent before opting to return to Florida and cannot do so again without forgoing his remaining collegiate eligibility, opts to remain in Gainesville again, the Gators would return every contributor from their 2019-20 roster with remaining eligibility other than Dontay Bassett, who entered the transfer portal in late March (and has since committed to Weber State).

And though that crew would be without Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. in the middle, it would also be well-equipped for — and maybe hell-bent on — wiping away memories of its somewhat disappointing up-and-down 2019-20 campaign.