Harry Fodder: How Kyle Lofton Fits In

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Time will tell (and some other programs around the country will certainly disagree), but the Florida Gators very well may have landed the best point guard in the 2022 transfer portal class Friday when Kyle Lofton officially became part of Coach Todd Golden’s first team.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Lofton was a four-year all-league player at St. Louis. Bonaventure, where he not only started all 116 games of his career, but averaged – get this – 38.1 minutes in those games game.

Translation: He does not come off the floor.

That may not be the case for the Gators (read on), but this is one battle-tested collegiate veteran who gives UF (with all due respect to Tre Mann and Tyree Appleby, who mostly played out of position the last two seasons) its first true point guard since Andrew Nembhard. This on the heels of a campaign when Florida’s 435 assists marked the fourth-fewest in the last 23 seasons.

Lofton, out of Hillsdale, NJ, posted career averages of 13.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. As a freshman, he was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Rookie team, earned first-team all-conference honors as a sophomore and junior, and was a third-teamer as a senior last season when he helped guide the Bonnies to early wins over Boise State, Clemson and Marquette (all Top 75 teams, according to KenPom.com), then later returned from a midseason injury to be part of wins over Colorado, Oklahoma and Virginia in the National Invitational Tournament, where the team reached the Final Four at Madison Square Garden.

His career numbers show 1,613 points, along with 604 assists – that’s 31 more than UF all-time assist leader Chris Chiozza – to just 273 turnovers, for a give-away / take-away ratio well over 2-to-1. He had a career-high 17 assists in a win over Massachusetts in February and in his final game with the Bonnies posted 15 points and 11 assists in the NIT loss to Xavier, the same team that eliminated UF in second-round play of the tournament . He was responsible for 28.4 of his team’s assists in ’21 -22, which put him in the nation’s top 100.

Kyle Lofton averaged an ironman 38.1 minutes over his 116 games (all starts) at St. Bonaventure, just an incredible testament to his conditioning and ability to stay out of foul trouble.

Lofton’s resume as a floor general pre-dates his time in Buffalo. Between high school and college he did a year of prep school at Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, where he played with a roster loaded with Division-I players and won the first prep national championship in that school’s history. And he was one of four D-1 dudes at Union Catholic High before that, so he knows how to defer.

Defensively, Lofton brings size and a plus-wingspan to contend with on the perimeter. His offensive game is best suited to driving the ball, what with 45.5-percent efficiency on 2-point shots and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line over his four seasons. If Lofton gets dinged anywhere it’s on his long-range shooting, which was a big problem for the Gators in ’21 -22 on the way to finishing last in the league from distance and setting a dubious mark – 30.3 percent – for the lowest 3 -point shooting percentage in program history. Lofton made just 30.1 percent for his career from the 3-point line, including 28.2 this past season.

But Golden isn’t bringing him to shoot 3s, either. Lofton’s job will be to get touches and good looks for Colin Castleton, Kowacie ReevesWill Richard, Myreon Jones, Niels Lane, Alex Fudge, et al. Lofton, who turned 23 last month and will arrive as a grad-transfer, will have a significant advantage (as in 4,442 career minutes) over fellow point guard transfer Trey Bonham, the junior by way of Virginia Military Institute, in terms of experience. That also leaves Bonham, with three years of eligibility, a really good upperclassmen mentor to compete against every day.

The Gators now have 11 of their 13 scholarships pledged for ’22-23, with work in the portal (more front-court help, maybe a shooter) still in the works.

In case you missed:
* Harry Fodder: How Will Richard Fits In
* Harry Fodder: How Alex Fudge Fits In

* Harry Fodder: How Trey Bonham Fits In

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