Belardo announcement should come soon
Where's the Gaby Belardo signing, you ask? I'd expect an announcement from USF on the 6-foot-3 combo guard from Puerto Rico either today or Friday, after speaking with him Wednesday night.
Belardo, finishing classes at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts, said he had signed his national letter of intent after visiting USF last weekend, but the delay has been in getting a signature from his father, who lives in Puerto Rico. Belardo said his father had received the letter Tuesday night and sent it to USF on Wednesday, and once the paperwork is in, Stan Heath can announce the signing and comment on the fifth member of his incoming recruiting class.
As for any hemming and hawing Monday, Belardo said his AAU coach, Art Alvarez, and his father both wanted him to make a visit to Hofstra, as had been the plan before he flew to Tampa for his USF visit. They relented after Belardo insisted he didn't need to see any other schools to know where he should be.
"My dad was always there for me, my whole life, and my AAU coach has been there for me too, but I told them, 'I don't want to visit any more schools. I've found what I need," Belardo said. "I love the coaches at USF. I love the players. I feel very comfortable there."
And you can't underplay the role that senior guard Jesus Verdejo played in USF getting Belardo. Verdejo, also from Puerto Rico and from the Miami Tropics AAU program, has been "a role model" for Belardo for some time, and having him as his host, on the weekend Verdejo gets his college degree, was huge.
Ask Belardo if he's ready to face Big East competition, and he'll tell you he already has. In going to Notre Dame Prep, he found a roster loaded with Division I signees, including three other Big East recruits.
"It's a good opportunity for me to take my game to another level," Belardo said. "I feel like I've been playing against good players here."
You'll see Belardo's first name spelled as "Gabby" or "Gabi," but he said it's Gaby, short for Gabriel. He considers himself a combo guard, either a shooter who can pass or a point who can score. And he'll come in with solid academics, saying he earned a 1000 on the SAT and a 3.1 grade-point average. He hasn't talked with the other members of USF's recruiting class yet, but said he played against Hargrave Military this season and got to see power forward Eladio Espinosa, who signed with USF last fall. Belardo called him "a very strong player," impressed by the way he could run the floor for a player his size.
-- Athlon Sports is unveiling its preseason top 25 one day at a time, and USF checks in at No. 20. The magazine has defensive end George Selvie as a first-team preseason All-American, and puts Selvie, linebacker Tyrone McKenzie and safety Nate Allen as first-team All-Big East picks. They're not done, as quarterback Matt Grothe, running back Mike Ford, guard Ryan Schmidt and return specialists Jerome Murphy and Marcus Edwards earned second-team honors, and receiver Carlton Mitchell, linebacker Brouce Mompremier and safety Carlton Williams made the third team. What, no fourth team? Oh, and they call Grothe a "poor man's Tebow," which while meant as a compliment, won't sit well with the Bulls quarterback. Yes, there's the obligatory Doug Flutie reference as well.