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Heath eyeing juco point guard

If there's one assumption that's been made about USF's basketball recruiting efforts over the past few weeks, it's been that Stan Heath has focused on frontcourt players with the three remaining scholarships he has for next season. A talented new target for the Bulls now suggests otherwise.

Among the recruits in Tampa this weekend for an official campus visit was Vernon Carr, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Detroit who played this past season at Pensacola Junior College. Touted as one of the nation's top prep point guards three years ago, it looks as if the only hurdle to Carr coming to USF might be an academic one.

Carr was a standout guard at Redford High in Heath's hometown of Detroit, tabbed by recruiting guru Bob Gibbons as one of the nation's top 20 prep point guards. He signed with UTEP and current Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, but his two seasons with the Miners were limited by injuries. He played in only 14 games at UTEP, taking a medical redshirt because of a foot injury his second year.

Carr played well at Pensacola this season, leading the team in scoring (16.7 points) and assists (6.4 per game). His coach, Paul Swanson, said he was the best point guard in the conference, and said what stood out the most was how mature he was on and off the court. There's an understanding too often that transfers come with baggage, but Swanson said that wasn't the case.

"He's the best transfer I've ever had, just a great kid with no baggage. He was a breath of fresh air," Swanson said.

Carr had been recruited by N.C. State early this season, and has been courted by Towson State, where former FSU coach Pat Kennedy is the head coach. He's also talking with Western Illinois. Carr's father, Vernon, was a standout guard at Michigan State from 1985-87, so Heath has a solid in there, having spent five years as a Spartans assistant under Tom Izzo. If you check out UTEP's original release on him signing with the Miners, there's high praise for Carr, with one comment calling him "one of the toughest guys in Detroit."

Swanson said the only hurdle USF had mentioned was academics, and not so much grades as the "40-60 rule," which requires a fourth-year college student to have a certain number of required credits toward a desired major. Swanson said USF had been checking on that before inviting him for a visit, so the fact that Carr had made a campus visit could suggest those concerns have been answered for USF.

USF has rising sophomore Chris Howard returning as a starting point guard, but he's had two major knee surgeries in the past two years, such that it would make sense that Heath would want a dependable option as a backup, if only to keep Howard from having to play too many minutes. Rising sophomore point guard Solomon Bozeman could also fill that role, but he could also be seen as a shooting guard.

I haven't talked to 6-foot-10 center recruit Kem Nweke yet, but in talking with his father Vince on Saturday night, it doesn't sound like his visit to USF went well, if only from a travel-logistics standpoint. Nweke's flight home to Texas on Saturday night was cancelled, his father said, and the early flights Sunday were full, leaving him stuck in an airport for half a day before he could get home. I'm not sure whether or not Nweke was actually offered a scholarship from the Bulls, but the early signs don't point to him signing with the Bulls.

Check back later today for more recruiting updates, and keep those comments and e-mails coming, both here and to auman@sptimes.com ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:25am]

    

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