Guard Burwell 'ecstatic' about joining Bulls
Lots of little things to get to before I head back out for the end of the final spring practice, but I'll start with men's basketball, which made it official Wednesday with the signing of 6-foot-6 guard Mike Burwell Jr. of South Amboy, N.J., becoming the fourth guard to join Stan Heath's incoming recruiting class.
"I'm ecstatic," said Burwell, a prolific scorer who spent this past season at South Kent School in Connecticut after averaging 27.8 points per game as a high school senior.
Burwell said he hasn't been getting many calls from other schools since his commitment, but mostly because he's been pretty clear that his mind was made up. "I've worn my USF hat everywhere I go," Burwell said.
Heath said he felt shorthanded at guard this season and now has three shooters -- with fellow signees Jordan Dumars and Shaun Noriega -- who give the Bulls size and range from outside. Burwell was more of a 3-point specialist in high school, but said the season of prep school ball helped him learn to use a mid-range jumper as another option when defenses aren't leaving him open from beyond the arc.
Burwell said he withdrew from classes at South Kent last month after basketball season ended -- he was fully qualified after graduating from high school, so he doesn't need anything academically this spring. He said he'll be able to join USF for the start of summer classes in less than a month, as opposed to most recruits that join for Summer B the first of July.
Burwell's father, Mike Sr., played at William Paterson College -- he still holds the school record with 23 rebounds in a game in 1982 -- and played 11 seasons professionally overseas. Burwell and the other incoming guards will be challenged to help offset the graduation of guard Jesus Verdejo, and Burwell said he'll wear Verdejo's No. 23 jersey with the Bulls this fall. For more on Burwell, here's a good read from Mycentraljersey.com.
-- USF has never been ranked in the top 25 in women's basketball, and the Bulls lose four senior starters from this year's team, but that doesn't stop one blogger from ranking USF No. 18 in a way-early 2009 top 25. If Jose Fernandez can turn all those newcomers into a top-four showing in the Big East, it'll be one of the biggest stories of the year in the conference. The blogger has six Big East teams in the top 25, with Connecticut at 1, Louisville 8, West Virginia 22, Rutgers 23 and Georgetown 24.
-- Soccer note: Denise Schilte-Brown has lost one of her assistants, as Randy Belli, who has led USF's recruiting efforts the past two seasons, has stepped down to devote more time to pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education administration. Belli, who already has a Master's in mathematics, is now a full-time student; Schilte-Brown said she expects to have a replacement hired in the next few weeks.
-- More basketball recruiting -- can't say I've heard much on Brian Okam, a 6-foot-11 center from Nigeria who signed Wednesday with Rutgers, but he's from Orlando, so you have to think Heath was aware of him and just focused elsewhere.