Bulls get boost from 6-foot-11 walk-on
Lots to write about tonight -- got to sit down today with former Radford coach Byron Samuels, the final piece to Stan Heath's coaching staff, and saw a good showing at the "Around the Horns" in Pinellas -- but first I've got news about a new addition to Heath's first Bulls roster.
The Bulls are done recruiting for this season, save some random unexpected transfer, which means Heath will leave two scholarships unused and carry them over to next season, when he should be able to put them to better use. That also means he's not pursuing 6-foot-9 forward Sean Carter of Fayetteville, N.C., and one reason he's content to go into his first season in Tampa with the players he has right now is a new name in the Bulls frontcourt: 6-foot-11, 225-pound Mohamed Esseghir.
You don't often find that kind of size from a walk-on, but Esseghir has had a long and interesting path to USF. He was born in Algeria, moving to the United States when he was 12 and attending Sarasota Christian and the IMG Academy in Bradenton. He played two seasons at Hillsborough Community College -- alongside USF receiver Amarri Jackson -- and signed in 2005 with Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, a Division I independent coached by former Indiana star Dane Fife. Barely played there, logging four points and three blocks in 10 games.
He needed "external rotation" surgery to correct incorrect growth in his left arm, a procedure that required doctors to break a bone in his arm in half to allow it to grow back correctly. He didn't play basketball last year while attending USF, but now has recovered completely and is looking forward to playing his final year of eligibility with the Bulls.
"I'm definitely excited with the opportunity to play for USF," said Esseghir, due to graduate from USF next spring with a degree in criminology. "I think I can help them out."
It's one more body available as Heath searches for frontcourt minutes to spell senior center Kentrell Gransberry. Another new addition, 6-foot-9 junior forward Mobolaji "B.J." Ajayi, should be Gransberry's top backup and can also help at power forward, where freshman Orane Chin could have the inside track at the starting job. Junior Aris Williams, still recovering from lingering injuries last season, can contribute if he can get himself healthy.
I'll come back Friday with good stuff on Byron Samuels, but one more note on how quickly a recruit can come and go. Jucojunction.com reported Wednesday that DeAndre Coleman, a forward from tiny Bevill State in Alabama and one of the top unsigned junior college prospects, was considering USF and trying to line up a visit. Once I looked him up, it didn't take long to figure out that Coleman wasn't coming to USF: he can't. He signed with Cincinnati two years ago under Bob Huggins, playing six games before leaving Andy Kennedy's team in December 2005. And while he spent a year and a half at Bevill and will get his associate's degree this summer, he can't come to USF because of the rule the Big East passed last year, forbidding transfers from league school to another.
In football and basketball, the league doesn't even allow indirect transfers, with no exceptions. Heath and assistant Reggie Hanson are used to playing by the SEC rule, which allows a transfer within the league so long as a player spends one year at a non-SEC school. (Remember USF quarterback recruit Brent Schaeffer, who left Tennessee, spent a year at a California juco and landed at Mississippi a year later). Anyway, USF hadn't gotten so far as to even watch any tape of Coleman, but the Big East's policy put an end to his chances of being a Bull. Coleman has visited Oregon State and is looking at UAB, which is his closest option to his home in suburban Atlanta. ...
-- One last note, since there's a general Where Are They Now theme this week: Former USF football players Curtis Chance and Jerome Springfield (365 pounds!) are both in jail, arrested in the past two days for an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court and repeatedly driving with a suspended license, respectively. ...