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Florida big man, leading scorer Castleton back for 5th year

Virginia Tech Hokies v Florida Gators

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Colin Castleton #12 of the Florida Gators blocks Tyrece Radford #23 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during the second half in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament held at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

NCAA Photos via Getty Images

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida big man Colin Castleton is returning for a fifth season, a huge boost for new coach Todd Golden.

Castleton, a 6-foot-11 forward from nearby DeLand who transferred to Florida after two years at Michigan, led the Gators in scoring and rebounding last season. He averaged 16.2 points and 9.0 rebounds despite playing nearly the final dozen games with a torn labrum that will require surgery. He also finished second in the Southeastern Conference with 62 blocked shots.

Castleton recorded 10 double-doubles and was eighth in the league in scoring, third in rebounding and fourth in field-goal percentage.

“The past couple weeks have helped me reflect on the season, as well as give me time to decide what’s next for my future,” Castleton said in a social media post Monday. “Thank you to my family and everyone who has helped me make this decision. Everyone’s process is different, and I’m adding another chapter to mine.

“Gator Nation, I’m back!”

Castleton missed six games after injuring his left shoulder during practice in mid-January but returned in hopes of helping the Gators make the NCAA Tournament; they fell short and ended up in the NIT. Castleton is expected to have surgery in the coming weeks to repair the damage and should be ready in time for summer workouts.

His return gives the Gators seven scholarship players back from the 2021-22 roster, including Kowacie Reeves, Myreon Jones, CJ Felder, Jason Jitoboh, Niels Lane and Eli Kennedy.

Three others opted to move on. Forward Anthony Duruji entered the NBA draft. Point guard Tyree Appleby, the team’s second-leading scorer, and forward Tuongthach Gatkek entered the transfer portal. Others still could join them there.

Golden and his staff hosted several potential transfers over the past week, expecting some of them to fill roster holes. Florida also has two incoming freshman signees: forward Jalen Reed and guard Denzel Aberdeen.