Gators star guard declares for NBA draft, might return to Florida

The news that the Gator Nation has been waiting for finally dropped on Monday when Florida basketball’s standout guard Walter Clayton Jr. announced his intention to enter the 2024 NBA draft.

However, if things do not work out, he noted that he will return “to no other than the University of Florida” for his senior collegiate season.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 195-pound guard, who is originally from Lakeland, Florida, returned to his home state last year through the transfer portal after two seasons under Rick Pitino with the Iona Gaels. There, he won the MAAC Player of the Year award in his sophomore campaign after leading his team to regular season and conference tournament titles.

He blossomed further under Todd Golden’s tutelage, picking up where he left off when he arrived in Gainesville in March 2023. Clayton averaged 17.6 points per game, including 36.5% from beyond the arc (in 255 attempts), giving him the highest season scoring average by a Gator since Anthony Roberson (17.9, 2003-04) and the fifth-best in school history.

The junior’s efforts earned him second-team All-SEC honors for the regular season while grabbing an All-SEC Tournament Team mention as well. He tied a program record with 42 consecutive free throws made and had a top-10 single-season UF free throw percentage of .877.

Clayton scored at least 20 points in nine of the final 14 games, including the postseason, for a total of 15 such performances over the 2023-24 campaign. The guard dropped a career-high 33 points in the NCAA Tournament against the Colorado Buffaloes — the second-most ever by a Gator in March Madness play.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire