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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC Tipoff Blog: Florida looks to count on Castleton

103 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Jimmie Mitchell/SEC

Welcome to the SEC Basketball Media Days Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event, held this year in Birmingham, Ala., the unofficial start of college basketball season. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.

Colin Castleton ready to shoulder the load again for Florida

Colin Castleton admits it. When coach Mike White decided to leave Florida for Georgia, the two-time All-SEC center made his own decision.

"I was ready to go."

To move on. To start his professional career. Then he met new coach Todd Golden, and the thought of playing one more year with the Gators became a lot more appealing.

"He played a big role in that decision," Castleton said.

So did finally getting healthy after playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Even at less than 100 percent, Castleton stood out in matchups against highly regarded opponents like Auburn's Walker Kessler, a first-round NBA draft choice.

Now his shoulder has fully healed, he said, thanks to daily rehab. He's carrying 250 pounds, more than he's ever weighed, on his 6-foot-11 frame but said he hasn't lost any of his quickness.

"It's definitely going to show in my game," he said.

He has a fan in the 37-year-old Golden, who arrived at Florida after three years as the head coach at San Francisco. Last year, the Dons reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Golden said Castleton "should be a preseason All-American."

Golden may be new to Florida, but he's no stranger to the SEC. He spent the first two years of Bruce Pearl's tenure at Auburn on that staff. Golden also played for Pearl overseas, and he considers the Auburn coach a mentor and a father figure.

When Golden got the Florida job, he said, "it was almost like a proud dad moment" for Pearl.

"I love Todd," Pearl said. "I love him like a son. Florida made a great choice."

They'll put those feelings aside when Golden makes his conference debut as an SEC head coach Dec. 28th at Auburn. As Golden said, "I'm looking forward to competing against him, to be honest."