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For three Gator seniors, decision to transfer pays off

GATOR BASKETBALL

How often do you see a team with three senior transfer players in the Big Dance?

For forward Justin Leon, guard Canyon Barry and reserve center Schuyler Rimmer, the decision to transfer to Florida was worth it.

Playing in the NCAA tournament may have been a long shot for these players when they first began their college careers.

Just two years ago, Leon was at a junior college in Illinois watching his future team play.

"Kinda a cool story -- when I was in JUCO, me and my teammates were watching the Final Four. That same game was Florida," Leon said. "Now with me being at Florida, I never thought that I would be in the tournament -- or playing for Florida, as well."

Barry, the Gators' second-leading scorer, finished his undergraduate at the College of Charleston, a mid-major that hasn't participated in March Madness since 1999.

"I feel blessed that I'm able to make the NCAA tournament," Barry said. "You know, growing up, it's every kid's dream to play in the Big Dance."

Rimmer's only experience came as a freshman at Stanford, when he played for one minute in a third-round game in 2014.

"I had opportunities to transfer to smaller schools where, maybe, I would've had the opportunity to have a larger role than I have now," Rimmer said. "But, you know, just the opportunity to play on a large stage, in big moments like this, for memories that will last a lifetime was a huge reason why I came to Florida."

Fourth-seeded Florida resumes NCAA tournament play against fifth-seeded Virginia on Saturday night, after defeating East Tennessee State, 80-65, in the first round Thursday.

Leon, Barry and Rimmer came to UF for big moments like this, and that's what makes the Gators' trip to the Round of 32 all-the-more gratifying.

"It'll be something that I'll always be able to go back and tell people -- or my future kids if I have some -- that when I was playing, I was playing in that same tournament," Leon said. "So it's something special."

"This season so far has been great," Rimmer said. "I've just been super happy with the success that we've had."

"Now that you're here, you just want the next round, the next step," Barry said. "Hopefully we can keep that going and play a great game Saturday."

Tipoff is 8:40 p.m. at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL.

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