College Sports

Here's why Florida basketball's top scorer is returning to school for one more year

Florida's Jalen Hudson (3) drives the ball as the Florida Gators play the Clemson Tigers during the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on December 16, 2017.
Florida's Jalen Hudson (3) drives the ball as the Florida Gators play the Clemson Tigers during the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on December 16, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Florida Gators men's basketball team received good news Tuesday.

Coach Mike White confirmed at the annual SEC meetings in Destin, Florida, that top scorer Jalen Hudson will take his name out of NBA Draft consideration and return to school for his redshirt senior season. Hudson and all underclassmen who put their name in for draft consideration and did not hire an agent have until Wednesday to make their decision to return to school or begin their professional career.

Hudson, a 6-6 shooting guard who transferred to UF from Virginia Tech following the 2016 season, averaged a team-high 15.5 points last season and paced the Gators with 78 three-pointers. He scored at least 20 points eight times, including a 23-point outing in Florida's 69-66 loss to Texas Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But Hudson was considered a late second-round pick at best heading into the NBA Draft, which takes place June 21. Instead of taking his chances of going undrafted, he will spend one more year in Gainesville to improve his draft stock.

“There’s nothing wrong with not being a guaranteed first-round pick right now,” White said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “That wasn’t expected a year ago. But he made a lot of headway. He built his brand. He helped the Gators have a good year. There should be a lot of positivity that he’s feeling right now.

“He’s got a lot of feedback from the NBA knowing what he’s got to prove upon to potentially put him in a better spot next year.”

Hudson's return gives the Gators another experienced player to help UF stay competitive at the top of the SEC and potentially make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Along with Hudson, UF also returns two other seniors in guard KeVaughn Allen and center/forward Kevarrius Hayes. Redshirt junior forward Keith Stone, a Deerfield Beach native, also returns for the 2018-19 season, White's fourth at Florida.

Hudson's return to school also almost all but guarantees the Gators will go a fifth consecutive year without a player being selected in the NBA Draft.

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