The Florida men’s basketball program had already secured commitments from a few players on the transfer portal over the weekend – but perhaps its biggest commitment this offseason came on Monday, when the Virginia Military Institute transfers Trey Bonham. would have committed to the Gators and gave Todd Golden’s program its first primary guard by doing so.
Bonham played two seasons for VMI’s Keydets in very different roles. Shooting a stunning 43% from three helped him thrive as a rookie while mostly being used as a guest-scoring reserve coming off the bench, but his play proved to be his standout skill as a sophomore who led the Keydets’ offense, and his 28.5% assist rate ranked just in the top 100 in the nation in that stat and reflected a season in which he played 16 games with four or more assists and only one without multiple assists.
This assist rate is not only better than that displayed by San Francisco star Jamaree Bouyea during his three years in charge of Golden-coached Dons teams, but better than the very good – 26.9% – set up by Tyree Appleby for Florida in 2021-22, and comes without almost as frequent turnovers as those made by Appleby. (Bonham only had four games with four or more turnovers and a 17.4% turnover rate last year; Appleby had 10 such games and a 23.6% turnover rate for the Gators .)
And Bonham’s assessment should be made in the context of replacing Appleby — who Golden likely could have kept as the main guard with the proper overtures — as the Gators’ top tier general.
If Bonham can maintain that level of performance as a passer and shot-maker against SEC competition, he’ll likely be a good replacement for Appleby, whose intentions to return to college basketball but transfer from Florida have been flagged. for the first time at the end of March.
But Bonham also did a great job adjusting his game to score when needed for the Keydets as a sophomore despite his three-fall 33% performance, shooting 118 free throws in 27 games and making 83% of between them, surpassing Appleby’s 125 free throws. in 34 games on a rate basis and nearly matching his 85% accuracy from the line. Bonham also shot 54% from two, far better than Appleby’s poor 41% on those shots, and his 58% edge shot percentage is also well above Appleby’s infuriating 43% from that distance.
This statistical profile – of a guard who generates a lot of assists without as many turnovers and can also get points by driving and scoring both on the rim and on the line when his shot does not fall – is likely to change. to be one of the many Florida fans who Appleby’s lamented streaks will be happy to hear about. And while Appleby’s defense and athleticism is going to be hard to match for Bonham despite being (6’0″, 170lbs) and Appleby (6’1″, 168lbs) of fairly similar stature , excision of turnovers would have helped Florida’s ill-season destined immensely, and is probably worth an exchange of defensive dynamism.
For what it’s worth, however, Bonham’s theft rate was 2.6%, just behind Appleby’s 2.7%.
While there are obvious questions about whether Bonham can continue to do what he did for VMI while playing against Florida’s usually tough non-conference schedule and increasingly good SEC, what he did a year ago is arguably better than what Appleby did.
Bonham doesn’t get credit for every bit of his profile, and Appleby wasn’t solely responsible for all of his ‘own’ mistakes on the court – basketball is a team game, assists oblige others players to make shots, turnovers can be on the receiver more than the passer, and turnovers generally go up when a player is asked to do as much as Appleby was for Florida. And Bonham’s Keydets didn’t win anything worth shouting about either, finishing 16-16 and going 1-6 to close out their year mostly thanks to atrocious defending.
But while I believe in Appleby’s talent and reveled in his best performances, Bonham’s seemingly more stable play is probably more like what Florida needed last year – and something Todd Golden expects from its leader.
Barring anything unexpected, Bonham would appear to be that player for Golden’s first year in Gainesville.