Center Austin ruled ineligible to play for Bulls
Three days before the fall semester starts, USF men's basketball took a big hit Friday, announcing that junior college signee Waverly Austin, expected to be the team's starting center, was not eligible and would be enrolling at another school.
Austin, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound center regarded as one of the nation's top junior college recruits, has been stopped by academics for the second time in three seasons. He signed with USF in 2010 but had to go to junior college, and after reopening his recruitment, chose the Bulls again, only to fall short of the school's academic minimums.
USF didn't elaborate on his ineligibility, but Butch Estes, his coach at Palm Beach State, said he talked with a family member this week and said USF's "academic people" ruled that he did not meet their requirements and were not accepting him; he said Austin has his Associate of Arts degree and is a full NCAA qualifier. "He has a lot of options," Estes said of his chances to play elsewhere this season.
Without Austin, USF is essentially without a starting center -- Stan Heath will likely use seniors Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (6-8, 245) and Kore White (6-8, 241) at center, and it means forward Victor Rudd (6-9, 229) will spend more time at power forward. USF has a huge center in redshirt freshman Jordan Omogbehin -- 7-foot-3 and 334 pounds -- but Heath said this week that he is likely only to play 8-10 minutes a game.
It's the third time in five seasons that Heath has signed a frontcourt player, only to see him wind up playing elsewhere due to academics -- Teeng Akol in 2008 wound up at Oklahoma State, then Western Kentucky, and last summer, another junior college center, Andre Jackson, signed with USF but didn't have enough credits in time and ended up at Cal-Bakersfield.