In what is sure to be an offseason of changes, Florida’s men’s basketball program learned of two more on Thursday.
First came the confirmation of news that had been reported on Wednesday: Florida assistant Jordan Mincy has been hired by Jacksonville as the Dolphins’ new head coach.
Mincy leaves Florida after spending all six years of Mike White’s tenure on his staff, earning a stellar reputation as an assistant — and especially as a recruiter — that got him named to ESPN’s list of the 40 best coaches under 40 in college basketball last May.
He was tabbed as a future head coach almost from his arrival in Gainesville with White — with now-Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May and lone holdover Darris Nichols, Mincy formed a trio of young assistants who were all ticketed for big chairs at some point — and while choosing Jacksonville, a program with one NCAA Tournament appearance to its name since the field’s expansion to 64 teams and little other basketball history outside of Artis Gilmore, is a bit of a surprise, it was likely more a matter of when than if for Mincy striking out on his own.
Mincy’s departure also now provides White with a chance to alter his staff composition for the better, something that critics have called for throughout his tenure. His replacement of May with Al Pinkins, a respected teacher of frontcourt players whose tutelage seems to have significantly helped Kevarrius Hayes and Colin Castleton, is possibly a model for this search; equally possible is White seeking an assistant who will serve as a dedicated offensive coordinator, someone who could help the Gators define and refine an offensive identity that has often shifted under the more defensive-minded White.
Mincy’s replacement being a good recruiter who could help Florida’s guards would also be helpful, but White and Nichols both have reputations as good recruiters and are former college guards in their own rights.
Mincy interviewing with Jacksonville was first reported on Tuesday by Eugene Frenette of the Jacksonville Times-Union, with further developments noted by Pete Thamel of Yahoo and Graham Hall of The Gainesville Sun.
The more expected change for Florida on Thursday came later in the day, as 247Sports reporter Travis Branham reported that sophomore guard Ques Glover had entered the transfer portal.
Glover showed promise as a fearless scorer in both of his seasons with the Gators, but his diminutive stature — a listed height of 5’11” might be kind — and his carelessness with the ball hampered his ability to get minutes on teams that had Andrew Nembhard, Tre Mann, and Tyree Appleby dominating the ball. Glover turned the ball over on more than a quarter of his possessions in 2019-20 and on nearly a third of them in 2020-21, while also shooting just about 25 percent from three. And while he was effective on his twos (53.7 percent) as a freshman, that collapsed as a sophomore (44.1 percent), leaving White with few reasons to play him except in times of extreme need.
Glover played 20 or more minutes six times as a freshman, but never got that many as a sophomore, and he didn’t play at all in Florida’s SEC or NCAA Tournament games. His transfer should allow him to find a level where his speed and play-making can help a team, and puts Florida in better position to pursue a player more suited for high-major ball.
But late Thursday afternoon brought a shocker: Three-year starter Noah Locke has also reportedly entered the transfer portal, per ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
Locke started 80 games through his three years at Florida, and bolstered a reputation as a dead-eye shooter that he carried in from high school as a top-100 recruit. But while he shot 38 percent from three as a freshman, 43 percent from three as a sophomore, and 40 percent from three as a junior, making 216 triples along the way, his usage was actually highest in his first season, and his role did not meaningfully expand over the last two years, though he also did not seem to meaningfully expand his skillset as a creator for himself or others or turn into a lockdown defender.
And injuries plagued him throughout his first two years, with offseason surgeries being cited as reasons for optimism for even more accurate shooting in each of the past two years. Locke is also notably very close to classmate — and sometimes roommate — Keyontae Johnson, and memorably cried on the floor after Johnson’s collapse during the Gators’ meeting with Florida State in December 2020.
Locke, unlike Glover, would likely have been an integral part of Florida’s plans for 2021-22 if he desired to return, and his likely departure probably comes as something the program did not want, even if it could potentially have anticipated such a move. And while Florida could upgrade on Locke’s production with a more versatile player in its starting lineup, it will be hard-pressed to find someone who is his equal or better as a shooter.
In an offseason set to be as wild as this one, though, Locke leaving alone is a reminder that anything is possible — no matter how unlikely it may seem on its face.