Heath on Famous: 'He was the prize for us'
Ask Stan Heath if Jarrid Famous was the No. 1 target in his recruiting efforts this season, and he doesn't hesitate to answer.
"No doubt, he was the prize for us," Heath said Thursday in his first chance to comment on the 6-foot-11 junior college center, who signed with the Bulls. "We really had to add a significant frontcourt player, someone ready to go, someone who could take us to another level. ... When I saw him play, I knew he was the one."
Famous, giving his first public comments since committing to the Bulls on Sunday, shared all kinds of insights -- that he had favored USF ever since his visit there, that he plans on wearing No. 12 with the Bulls, and much more.
"It feels wonderful," Famous said Thursday. "After my visit, I sat down and went over everything. I just felt comfortable there, with my family there, with the way I got along with Coach Heath."
Lots to get to, so we'll just hit on some notes:
The mark is 26: Heath said the first question Famous asked him was "Who has the most rebounds in one game for your team?" Heath thought it was Kentrell Gransberry and 22 and told him as much; Gransberry actually had 23 in a game two years ago, but the record is 26, set by Fred Gibbs in 1972. "I'm going to beat that record," Famous told him. Heath said it'd be one thing for a guy to say he's going to score 30 points in a game, but he liked that this was a physical goal, grabbing that many boards.
More than a center: Heath considers power forwards and centers largely interchangeable in his program, much like shooting guards and small forwards. So while we'll call Famous a center, he won't be limited to having his back to the basket. "I think his future is as a power forward," Heath said. "We'll use him in a lot of ways." So that could be Famous and Gus Gilchrist in the same frontcourt, or Famous and Alex Rivas, with the latter as more of a center.
Family ties were huge: When Famous came to USF for his campus visit, he had a ton of relatives come to see him from as far away as Jacksonville -- his maternal grandmother, two uncles and a cousin, an aunt, another cousin and more. "We had no chance if he had no family here in Florida," Heath said. "That was why he felt comfortable being away from home." It's a fortuitous break for USF, even more so when you consider that some of the relatives just moved to Florida from California.
Sunday's home visit was well-timed: Heath looked savvy for scheduling a home visit for Famous on Sunday, the day he came back from a campus visit to Arizona, but he said he'd scheduled the visit before Famous had booked the Arizona trip. He had tried to visit the week before, but there were family conflicts for Famous. So Heath got there "a couple of hours" before Famous got back from Arizona, allowing him time with his father, Jerome, again reinforcing the family aspect of coming to USF.
Thought he'd gotten away: Assistant coach Byron Samuels saw Famous play last summer, but Heath didn't do much because he thought Famous was going "in a different direction" -- signing with Seton Hall in November. When that didn't happen, Heath stepped up the recruitment, seeing Famous in person after USF's game at Connecticut on Feb. 21. "I thought he had a terrific game -- went after every rebound," said Heath, convinced Famous was the big man he needed. The first Bulls assistant to try to get Famous to USF? Heath said it was actually Julius Allen, an assistant under Robert McCullum, who was interested in Famous his senior year in high school. Allen, now an assistant at Binghamton, helped place Famous at Westchester and had him aware of the Bulls, three years before he would sign with them.
Expect more today: Heath was scheduled to visit with Tampa King senior forward Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and his family on Thursday night, and while I wasn't able to talk with Fitzpatrick after the visit, expect him to sign with the Bulls on Friday, giving USF another versatile rebounder who can play both forward positions. Getting the Times' Suncoast Player of the Year gives USF a local star -- he'll really be the first since Terrence Leather. "I'll have a lot of support in Tampa," Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. "I think I can fill some seats."
Not done yet: Once Fitzpatrick is on board, Heath will have one scholarship available, though it looks like Sandi Marcius, the Croatian center from LaPorte, Ind., will stay close to his high school and sign with Purdue -- official word should come Friday. There's a new name in the mix for USF, and I should have more on that Friday as well ...