NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Florida

If you wanted to argue for Baylor or Gonzaga as the more deserving party of the preseason No. 1 ranking in college basketball, I wouldn't have quibbled with you up until this week. Baylor returns its top three scorers and an All-American in Jared Butler. Gonzaga returns Corey Kispert and a supporting cast of Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme.

As of Tuesday, however, the preseason No. 1 Bulldogs, who received 28 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 poll to No. 2 Baylor's 24, should henceforth be considered No. 1 with a bullet. 

Mark Few and Co. got word Tuesday that Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard has been approved to play immediately this season, bolstering an already-lethal backcourt with a former five-star guard who, up until this week, was expected to sit to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Nembhard will be eligible to play when the Zags open their season Thursday against No. 6 Kansas.

Eligibility waivers have been handed out like candy in recent months amid the pandemic and immense uncertainty in the sport, but Nembhard had previously said his intentions were to transfer and sit out, with no plans to attain immediate eligibility. The development is a welcome one for a Zags team that lost starting point guard Ryan Woolridge and starting shooting guard Admon Gilder.

Despite those losses, however, Gonzaga's backcourt figured to be a crowded one even without him. The Zags added five-star combo guard Jalen Suggs this offseason and have big plans for he and Ayayi. Nonetheless, all three should function well in the same unit, with Nembhard serving as a lead initiator, Ayayi as a true two-way force and Suggs as a combination between the two because of his explosiveness and ability to score it at every level. 

Nembhard last played at Florida in 2019-20 where he averaged 33 minutes per game and made 31 starts. In two seasons with the Gators, he averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.