Famous: Thoughts on USF's big commitment
When Stan Heath was hired by USF two years ago, one of the things you consistently heard about him was his sheer ambition in recruiting: He had the ability to get into the final mix on kids you'd think were out of reach, and occasionally, to take the next step and land the big star that can take a program to another level.
It remains to be seen whether junior college center Jarrid Famous can do that, whether he can combine with Dominique Jones and Gus Gilchrist and lift USF out of the bottom quarter of the Big East next season. But in getting Famous' commitment on Monday -- a formal signing could come as early as Tuesday -- Heath showed he can beat major national programs for a huge recruit if everything falls just right.
Famous is exactly what USF has needed in the post -- "a big, strong, physical rebounder" is what recruiting analyst Van Coleman called him last fall, before he shined as a sophomore at Westchester Community College, ranking in the top three nationally in points and rebounds in the juinor college ranks. After an off-season in which many of the Big East's top big men have jumped to the NBA, he could give USF the same kind of post presence they had in two-time Big East rebounding champ Kentrell Gransberry.
USF got Famous with a combination of circumstances and good fortune: Heath truly needed a center who could step in and play right away, and correctly identified the importance of family to Famous -- when he came to Tampa for an official visit, his maternal grandmother and an aunt and uncle, who all live in Florida, came to watch him play, something they hadn't been able to do when he played in New York. Read this profile from SNY.tv and you'll learn that Famous' mother died when he was 3 years old, from complications after childbirth, leaving his father to raise four children.
Heath also won with some shrewd maneuvering. Sean Miller had recruited Famous when he was at Xavier, and sought to bring him to Arizona, a more tradition-laden school with scholarships available. Arizona brought Famous in for a visit this weekend, but Heath set up a home visit for Sunday afternoon -- Westchester Community College assistant coach Tyrone Mushatt called it "a great move," a gesture convincing enough that Famous committed to Heath on Sunday night.
"He got back from the Arizona visit, and Coach Heath was waiting at his house," Mushatt said. "He turned it around and made him think about South Florida, and he did a great, great job with that."
-- What are Famous' best skills, you ask? "He runs the floor and rebounds. Those are two things he does great, without even thinking," Mushatt said. "Nobody his size can run with him."
-- Famous will come to USF as a center, but Mushatt said Heath sold him on the prospect of playing as a four (power forward) that guards opposing centers. He won't be limited to playing with his back to the basket, and Mushatt said Heath pitched a starting lineup with three guards and two big forwards.
-- You'll see Famous listed at 6-10 in some references, but he's 6-11 on the Westchester roster, and Mushatt said Famous is 7 feet tall, but shorts himself because he doesn't want to be typecast as a center. "Kevin Garnett didn't want to be a center, so he said he was 6-11," Mushatt said. I don't think he means for the lofty comparison to be anything more than a similar approach and confidence about positional flexibility.
-- Famous will finish classes at Westchester on May 7, and Mushatt said he'll take six credit-hours this summer, getting him acclimated to USF before fall classes start.
-- We know now that Daequon Montreal is off the board, with the Bulls targeting King power forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick instead -- should have more on that Tuesday. Two other recruits who visited recently, center Sandi Marcius and small forward Glenn Bryant, remain in play -- couldn't reach either of them Monday, and their respective coaches hadn't seen them on campus Monday to know how their weekend visits went. Again, we should have updates on them Tuesday if all goes right.