Fitzpatrick on USF: 'I want to go there'
Tampa King's Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, a forward who was the Times Suncoast Player of the Year as a senior, will meet with USF coach Stan Heath on Thursday night and said he will accept a scholarship to play for the Bulls if offered.
"I'm just waiting to hear if they have a scholarship for me, and if they do, then I'll definitely take it," said Fitzpatrick, who signed with Georgia Southern last fall but was granted a release from his letter of intent after a coaching change there. "That's the school I'd like to go to. It's close to home and they play in the Big East. I want to go there."
Fitzpatrick had hoped to meet with Heath on Wednesday, but because of a scheduling conflict for his family, that meeting will now take place Thursday evening.
By all indications, the interest is mutual. Since getting permission to speak with Fitzpatrick, the Bulls have backed off from two forwards they had been recruiting, Daequon Montreal and Glenn Bryant, making Fitzpatrick a priority. Fitzpatrick said he has been contacted by Miami and Tulane since getting his release, but has focused on USF, which is just four miles north of King's campus.
Fitzpatrick's size -- he said he is 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds -- would suggest he'd be a power forward on the college level, but he said Wednesday that he considers himself a small forward. "I see myself as a 3 in college," he said. "I could play some 4 if I have a smaller guy on me. I have the ability to take it down in the post, so I'd create some mismatches."
Fitzpatrick led King to the state final four as a senior, averaging a double-double and doing a bit of everything -- eight assists in a game twice, eight blocks in a game twice, as many as 25 rebounds in one game. Here's our writeup from when he was selected as Suncoast Player of the Year.
Fitzpatrick worked out with USF players in open gyms during his spring break week and said he is good friends with Bulls guard Dominique Jones -- his AAU coach, Burney Hayes, coached Jones at Lake Wales High.
"I was interested in USF before they approached me," Fitzpatrick said. "Once I got my release, Coach Heath called me and said he wanted to set up a meeting. I'm going to go talk with him and see what he has to say. They were definitely a situation I wanted to pursue."
Fitzpatrick said he was interested in USF entering his senior year, but the Bulls wanted to wait to see if he could progress and play at the Big East level. He said he enjoyed playing with USF's players informally but said he'll have to work hard to excel in college.
"I think I held my own, but I definitely have a long way to go," he said. "I feel that if I work hard over the summer, I could get a lot of minutes."
Fitzpatrick played his freshman year at IMG Academy, and his play at King would be familiar to current USF director of basketball operations Tommy Tonelli, who saw him play when he was head coach at Wharton two years ago.
-- Can't tell who backed away from whom, but Oak Hill (Va.) small forward Glenn Bryant, who took an official visit to USF, has signed with Arkansas, according to Scout.com's Dave Telep.
-- The Tuscaloosa News is reporting that USF assistant Dan Hipsher is leaving the Bulls to take a position on Anthony Grant's staff at Alabama. We've reported on the long history between Grant and Hipsher, who recruited him to Dayton and gave him his first full-time college coaching job at Stetson. Hipsher hasn't returned calls seeking confirmation and Heath isn't commenting.
-- Two days after news that center Jarrid Famous had committed to USF, he still hasn't signed to make the pledge official. Westchester Community College assistant coach Tyrone Mushatt said that's because the program has been mourning the loss of head coach Winston Nicholas, who died Monday after battling pancreatic cancer. Mushatt said it might be early next week before Famous signs, and other programs continue to try to convince him to back out of his commitment to USF.
"They're coming at him hard, but I think he's solid," Mushatt said. "He's never wavered before, so I don't think it's going to change."
-- I've had a couple questions as to whether USF could get in on Daniel Miller, the 6-11 center from Loganville, Ga., who got a release from his letter of intent from Georgia. His coach at Loganville Christian Academy, Mark Davis, says he's headed to Georgia Tech. USF was able to get another Loganville star from Georgia, Mike Mercer, a year and a half ago, but no luck this time.
-- Two Big East teams will play in Tampa as part of a Big East/SEC doubleheader at the St. Pete Times Forum on Dec. 10. Florida and Syracuse are the headliner, with DePaul and Mississippi State playing in the first game.
(Times photo by Daniel Wallace)