Former Gators’ G Riley Kugel of Orlando transfers to Kansas after mystifying sophomore season


GAINESVILLE — Former Florida shooting guard Riley Kugel announced he’ll sign with basketball power Kansas after a mystifying sophomore season with the Gators.

Kugel quickly found a soft landing spot after he announced plans to transfer days earlier.

Despite an unceremonious ending to a once-promising UF career, the former Dr. Phillips standout had some impressive suitors. The 6-foot-5, 207-pound Kugel chose the Jayhawks over Arizona, Houston and Connecticut, the reigning national champion.

The 20-year-old entered was preseason All-SEC pick and possible NBA first-round pick, but lost his starting role before the end of December. Overshadowed by transfer guards Walter Clayton Jr. and Zyon Pullen, Kugel ended the season averaging just 9.1 points, fifth on the team.

Kugel scored 20 points or more just twice in SEC play after he had more than 20 points during three of UF’s first seven games, including 23 in the season opener.

At times, his body language and interaction with teammates suggested frustration and detachment. Yet when he did not play during the SEC Tournament semifinals and title game, Kugel cheered on the Gators, including former high school teammate Denzel Aberdeen during his career-high 20 points in a comeback against Texas A&M.

Kugel cried as 7-foot-1 sophomore Micah Handlogten was carried off the court on a backboard after he suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his lower left leg during the opening minutes of UF’s 86-67 loss to Auburn in the tournament championship game.

Kugel ended his career with a solid all-around effort during Florida’s 102-100 loss to Colorado March 22 to open NCAA Tournament play. He finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and a blocked shot.

Kugel entered the season expected to be a star.

Following a late-season surge as a true freshman, he returned to school rather than explore his professional options. He capped his first college season averaging 18.3 points during the final eight games after Colin Castleton’s…

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Author : Orlando Sentinel

Publish date : 2024-04-01 13:46:00

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