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Florida scoops up Charleston Southern transfer Phlandrous Fleming

The Gators nab another conference’s defender of the year, this one a big-time scorer.

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Southern at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida men’s basketball program continues to reconstruct itself after a tumultuous 2020-21 season, and Monday brought more welcome news in the form of a fourth commitment by a player who will transfer in to the program.

And in Charleston Southern guard Phlandrous Fleming, the Gators are getting more than just a shoo-in for the All-Name Team.

Fleming was arguably the only bright spot on a terrible Charleston Southern team in 2020-21, scoring 20.1 points and hauling in 7.4 rebounds per game to lead the 3-18 Buccaneers — whose two wins over Division 1 teams came over their last four games, and who did not win a single home game after December 8 — in both categories. But he stood out: Fleming led the Bucs in steals (1.8) and blocks (0.9), too, winning Big South Defensive Player of the Year partly for that defensive versatility and completing a second straight season in which he led the program in four of the five major individual per-game statistical categories.

As a result of extraordinary usage — he was ninth nationally in shot percentage, per KenPom, hoisting nearly 35 percent of the shots taken when he was in the game — Fleming’s efficiency wasn’t great, with him shooting just under 45 percent on twos and 32 percent on threes. But on a team with just two other double-figure per-game scorers — and just barely, as Ja’Quavian Florence put up 10.3 points per game and Sean Price caused just 10.1 points of ruckus — that sort of efficiency is also likely attributable to defenses keying on Fleming, something which didn’t stop him from having more 30-point games (three) than single-digit nights (two) or from torching Presbyterian for 35 points and 10 rebounds in what was his final game with the Buccaneers.

And though Fleming has the skills to be a ball-handler for the Gators, he certainly won’t be asked to do nearly as much for Mike White’s team as he was for Bradley Radebaugh’s. At a listed 6’4” and 210 pounds, he also has the size and sturdiness to match up well with even most guards in the rugged SEC — and there are decent results in past games against high-major competition to suggest he’ll be able to at least tread water in a far better league than the woeful Big South, which was essentially Winthrop and a passel of teams nowhere near its level in 2020-21.

Fleming joins UMKC’s Brandon McKissic — a fellow guard named Defensive Player of the Year in a small conference — Boston College’s C.J. Felder, and Penn State’s Myreon Jones in announcing plans to transfer to Florida this offseason. That quartet of projected arrivals now equals Florida’s contingent of transfers out, which consists of Noah Locke, Omar Payne, Ques Glover, and Osayi Osifo.

Fleming’s commitment also comes on the heels of the Gators dealing with a notable miss — their first of this cycle — on the transfer market, as Furman forward Noah Gurley picked Alabama over Florida on Sunday.