Despite being a lock to be drafted – potentially as a first-round pick – Florida freshman Scottie Lewis is heading back to school for his sophomore season.
“I was so stuck on going to the NBA when I got home, but then I thought long and hard about it and with all the uncertainty about the draft process, and if there will even be a combine and team workouts, I felt like it was the right move to go back to school,” Lewis told Stadium.
Lewis is a former McDonald’s All-American who averaged 8.5 points per game this past season, but is considered a lock-down defender who thrives in transition. He showed glimpses on the offensive end and played well down the stretch for the Gators, a preseason top-10 team that underachieved for much of the season.
“I put the season we had on my shoulders,” Lewis said. “I came in with a big head. I wasn’t promised anything, but I expected a lot. It didn’t just hurt me, but it hurt our team. It took me a while, but I learned how to be coachable and I thought it showed with how well the team was playing towards the end of the season.”
Lewis said he got the information back from the NBA’s advisory committee and while they told him he would definitely be drafted, there was a wide range on where he could be selected. With the reality that there might not be a combine, team workouts, or face-to-face meetings, Lewis and those advising him felt it would be difficult for him to increase his draft stock.
Lewis also said he feels that another year in college will help on a variety of fronts: team success, individual improvement and also getting halfway to his college degree.
“There’s so much more I think I can show, that we can show as a team,” Lewis said. “I want to leave a legacy at Florida.”
“I’m an optimistic person and no matter where I get drafted, I’m going to work my butt off,” he added. “But with all this uncertainty, it was best for me to play it safe and put myself in a better position a year from now.”
Lewis ended his freshman campaign with a career-high 19-point outing in a 71-70 loss to Kentucky. The Gators finished 19-12 with an 11-7 record in SEC play, but Lewis felt that Florida had started to play its best basketball and had a chance to do damage in the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
“I want to finish what I started after not being able to play in the postseason,” he said. “I want to get Florida back to the Final Four and also have a chance to put myself at the top of next year’s draft.”