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It's official: 6-foot-11 Akol joins Bulls' class



Teeng Akol is in.

The 6-foot-11, 225-pound power forward from Sudan, who committed to USF last month, has earned the necessary test scores to officially sign with the Bulls and will start summer classes Monday. It's a big boost to a recruiting class now seven players deep, and Stan Heath said it's a significant step for Akol, months before he ever plays a college game.

"His background is incredible. He's had a unique path to get to this point," Heath said. "He's a Sudanese refugee, but he's persevered. To be in college, it's a dream of his."

Akol continues a major revamping of the power forward position, along with fellow freshman Eladio Espinosa and Maryland transfer Gus Gilchrist, who will join his new teammates Saturday. Heath said upgrading that position was a priority in USF's recruiting efforts.

"That was an area where I felt we were a little overwhelmed in a lot of games last year, especially in the Big East," he said. "It definitely was a focus to plug that hole, and I feel like we've addressed that very well."

Heath said Akol's strength will be his versatility, with range to step out and hit a 3-pointer, but size and physical presence to block shots inside. With all seven newcomers enrolled for summer classes, the new Bulls have an extra month to learn each other and forge chemistry in informal open-gym workouts.

"Teeng has a lot of upside," Heath said. "He has a toughness, an intensity about him, and I think he's going to challenge guys on the court right away. The summer is a major benefit, and it's made a world of difference for us as coaches, having the players coming in in the summer."

Akol joins a group that includes Espinosa, guard Gaby Belardo and centers Gene Teague and Alex Rivas Sanchez. Guard Mike Mercer transferred from Georgia at midseason last year and will be eligible in mid-December, and the Bulls are in the process of submitting a hardship waiver that would potentially allow Gilchrist to play this season without sitting out a year after transferring from Maryland. Walk-on Mitch Emory from Cocoa Beach is also starting summer classes next week as well.

(Yes, we originally said 6-10, 215, because that's what Heath said his height and weight were ... then an hour later, USF's official release says 6-11, 225 ... we'll update next time we get a new set of numbers ... )

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:31pm]


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