Johnn Egbunu returning to Florida

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Florida received good news on Friday evening, as starting center John Egbunu has elected to return to Gainesville for his final season of eligibility, the program announced.

“I’m a Florida Gator in my heart, so I wanted another chance to come back and be a Gator,” Egbunu said in a statement. “I’ve graduated from here, and I love playing here, being a part of the culture and being with my teammates – it’s a fun team to be around. It’s also a chance for me to continue to improve and grow as a player and help the team, however, I can. And I can’t forget to mention how great it is to play in front of the Rowdies and all of our Gator fans.”

The 6-foot-11 center, who recently earned his undergraduate degree, had declared for the NBA Draft this spring.

Egbunu missed the final 10 games of the season, including Florida’s Elite Eight run, after tearing his ACL in a win over Auburn on February 14. The recovery was expected to take 10-12 months. The team hopes to get him back by mid-January.

He averaged 7.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

The return of Egbunu, even if it isn’t until the start of conference play, is still a huge boost for the Gators. Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, and Kevarrius Hayes all return. Rice graduate transfer Egor Koulechov has joined the program, filling a scoring need after Caynon Barry exhausted his eligibility and Devin Robinson decided to pursue professional options.

NBC Sports has Florida as a top-10 team entering the 2017-18 season.