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Tyree Appleby to return to college basketball for 2022-23 season, per reports

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The mercurial point guard would be playing his third season with the Gators — if he finishes his career in Gainesville.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament- Florida vs Texas A&M Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators point guard Tyree Appleby will return to college basketball 2022-23 season, according to reports from Graham Hall of The Gainesville Sun and Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

Where he plays is up for debate, with the two reports differing: Hall initially wrote that Appleby “plans to return to UF,” while Rothstein, citing Appleby as his source, reported that “the school that he plays for is TBD.” Hall, learning of Rothstein’s report, initially stood by his own — then heard the same thing from another source.

And a third report from a reporter based in Appleby’s home state of Arkansas has Appleby intending to enter the transfer portal — which usually precedes but does not always foretell or imply a departure.

Appleby has been a streaky, mercurial player for Florida in two seasons on the court in Gainesville, with his quickness and agility helping make him an often menacing defender but his spotty decision-making and inconsistent shot helping make him an enigmatic offensive player.

Appleby scored 15 or more points eight times in the 2021-22 season, with two three-game streaks of such production, and had both five- and four-game outbursts with three or more made threes. And even when he did not make many threes, the ones he did hit could be huge: His lone three against Ohio State was a buzzer-beating game-winner, and he also made important threes against Missouri and Ole Miss in consecutive close games in which he went a combined 2-for-8 from distance.

But he also committed four or more turnovers 10 times, and notably did not score in Florida’s road loss to Kentucky (a game, albeit, in which he played just eight minutes, suffering an injury early in the first half) or its SEC Tournament meeting with Texas A&M, an overtime game in which he played 20 minutes but was largely absent from the Gators’ second-half rally.

Appleby is a passionate and emotional player, one whom the Gators rallied around often — but his performance has hewn closely to many of the clichés about athletes like that, alternately delighting and frustrating observers of it.

If Appleby returns to Florida, he would likely be a lead guard for new head coach Todd Golden, whose offenses at San Francisco distributed usage among multiple ball-handlers.

If Appleby does not return to Florida, the obvious leading contender for his next season of college basketball would be Georgia, given that former Florida coach Mike White’s pre-existing ties with Appleby’s older brother Raheem — who played for White at Louisiana Tech — were instrumental in his transfer from Cleveland State to Florida.

Appleby should have one season of collegiate eligibility remaining, thanks to the NCAA’s so-called “COVID year,” which allows some athletes to compete for five seasons if their career overlapped with the COVID-interrupted 2019-20 academic year. Appleby sat out that season after his transfer, but would be covered under the same provisions.