Juco guard Jawanza Poland commits to USF
Jawanza Poland, rated as one of the top shooting guards in all of junior college basketball, said Monday he will sign with USF this week, choosing the Bulls over Oklahoma, West Virginia, Cincinnati and others.
"I'm just trying to come in and help the team win," said Poland, 19, who will finish classes at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College this summer. "They have a good coaching staff, and I like the academics there and how they get their players to graduate. The campus looks like a nice place."
Poland, 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, will have three years of eligibility at USF, and with the departure of junior Dominique Jones to the NBA draft, he'll have a chance to compete for a starting position next season. According to Mike Mitchell's Midwest Scouting Service, which ranks junior college prospects, Poland is the No. 3 shooting guard/small forward in the country, right behind fellow USF commitment Hugh Robertson of Tallahassee Community College.
Poland didn't play this season, unable to get a release from Cowley (Kan.) College after he followed his coach to Hutchinson. As a result, he'll have a third year of eligibility -- he averaged 13.5 points per game as a freshman at Cowley, hitting 38 percent of his 3-point attempts. He said Jones' decision to enter the NBA draft was a factor because they play the same position, but made it clear "that's not the reason" he chose the Bulls.
Poland is USF's fifth commitment toward the incoming class and third set to sign Wednesday when the spring signing period opens, following Robertson and combo guard Shedrick Haynes. All three spring signees are junior college players, which should put them in better position to contribute this winter.
The Bulls could add one more recruit in Davante Gardner, a 6-foot-9, 280-pound center from Virginia, who made an official visit this past weekend and is choosing between USF and Marquette. USF had been in contention for Cleveland Melvin, a power forward from Baltimore, but his AAU coach said Monday that USF had told Melvin it had no scholarships remaining; the former Connecticut commitment is considering Pittsburgh, Marquette, DePaul and Seton Hall.