Lots of links before baseball starts up ...
A lot of people think that because I write for the St. Petersburg Times, I must have this nasty commute across the bridge to cover USF in Tampa. On the contrary, I've lived in Wesley Chapel for eight years, so USF is conveniently close to home for me, but this week, as I cover the Big East baseball tournament in Clearwater, I have that nasty commute everyone thinks I have on a daily basis.
Conference tournaments are a great baseball environment -- I've covered ACC tourneys in Greensville, S.C., and in St. Pete when it was here a few years back, and every year, there's a low-seeded team that sticks around longer than expected. Will sixth-seeded USF be that team this week? The Bulls, on the tournament bubble a week ago, actually have the third-best RPI in the league, according to baseball site WarrenNolan.com. This is a function of a tougher schedule, with midweek games as tough as the weekend competition in many instances.
Anyway, we'll have tons of baseball this week, but first, I've got a weekend's worth of links to offer up:
-- I still find it impressive that Miami's new athletic director, Kirby Hocutt, played linebacker for Jim Leavitt at Kansas State. The Miami Herald has a feature on Hocutt, complete with a ringing endorsement from Leavitt.
-- Everybody's cranking out preseason top 25 lists, and Newerascouting.com has joined in on the fun, ranking the Bulls No. 18 in their offering. West Virginia is No. 9, Kansas is No. 14 and Pittsburgh is No. 25 in there. From the Out There On a Limb Dept., they write that if Pittsburgh doesn't make a bowl, coach Dave Wannstedt will "certainly be on the hot seat." You think?
-- Speaking of West Virginia, star running back Noel Devine and USF freshman cornerback Quenton Washington, teammates and friends at North Fort Myers High, returned home to put on a football camp for area kids this past week. The "239 Future All-Stars Football Camp" -- sharing an area code with someone is indeed a special bond -- drew 53 kids ages 7 to 14. Fun quote in the Fort Myers News-Press from Quenton's little brother, Rashad: "He's going to be the best ever," Rashad, a sixth-grader, said of Quenton. "But I'm going to be better than him. I'm going to be the best ever, ever."
-- I have to throw some love -- albeit badly belated love -- to our preps blog and Izzy Gould, who had news last week of Wesley Chapel offensive lineman Kamran Joyer picking up an offer from USF coach Jim Leavitt. Joyer has USF at the top of his list, though he's hoping for an offer from Florida, too.
-- Next year's men's basketball roster will have a real international flavor to it, with five players born outside the 50 states: Jesus Verdejo and Gaby Belardo from Puerto Rico, Alex Rivas Sanchez from the Dominican Republic, B.J. Ajayi from Nigeria and Teeng Akol from Sudan. With that in mind, I offer a rare international link to this story in Spanish on the signing of Rivas Sanchez. My favorite word to translate? Bloqueados, with a close second to uno muy buena experiencia.
-- USF soon-to-be-point-guard Dwan McMillan is playing in the prestigious IS8 tournament this summer in Queens, N.Y., on a loaded team that includes Louisville-bound Samardo Samuels and new West Virginia commit Devin Ebanks, as well as two Syracuse signees, a Florida signee and a pair of future Kansas stars, according to SI.com. It's practically a preview of the Big East tournament, and the McMillan whose name gets mentioned by Dick "Hoops" Weiss is Dwan's brother, Devon, who goes by "Fatty." Dwan's team, by the way, is the Shooting Stars, and they're the No. 1 seed out of 50 teams in the field.
-- High praise for Akol in Van Coleman's latest basketball recruiting column for CSTV.com. "He has all kinds of offensive tools and could be a poor man's Kevin Durant in college," Coleman writes. "He's definitely a player that Stan Heath can build the program around if he qualifies this summer as expected." And because I just like sharing correct pronunciations, it's TENG ah-KOHL. See, I'm looking out for you guys all the time.