More hoops: Keith Brumbaugh update ...
Long post here, so I want to make sure you guys know that USF men's hoops is playing at Vanderbilt next season as part of the SEC/Big East Invitational in December. It's in the previous post ...
I started the week thinking I wasn't going to cover any basketball until Saturday night's men's home game against St. John's -- an absolute must-win for Stan Heath's team to have any relevance the rest of the season -- but decided to go over to Hillsborough Community College on Wednesday night and watch Keith Brumbaugh, the talented 6-foot-10 forward who is considering signing with USF.
HCC was playing Polk Community College, which had handed them a 94-76 loss two weeks earlier, so I figured it would be a chance to see him against a relatively tough level of competition. He didn't disappoint, considering he had a rough start and still managed to score 40 points -- four points above his average -- and nearly rallied HCC from a 23-point first-half deficit in what wound up a 92-76 loss.
Brumbaugh, first of all, is probably a small forward in major college basketball -- a tall, talented mismatch of one, with a game best shown with perimeter shooting and superb passing. He missed eight of his first nine shots Wednesday, didn't do much defensively but didn't show much frustration even as HCC fell behind 37-14 against a more physical Polk team. I'd wager he had at least six plays in the first half that would be assists if his teammates were able to hit layups and easy shots inside.
Brumbaugh led HCC on a 20-6 run to end the half down 43-34, with him scoring 12 first-half points on 5-of-16 shooting. He then hit seven of his first nine shots in the second half, getting HCC within two points of Polk but never getting the lead and the momentum that would come with that. Polk pulled away in the final five minutes, but I had Brumbaugh finishing 16 of 32 from the field, including 7-for-15 on 3-pointers.
USF did not have any coaches at Wednesday's game, but they've been on Brumbaugh since the first day they were allowed to: "They've been here since Day One," HCC coach Derrick Worrels said. "Without a doubt, they've established a good relationship with him." Worrels said it's basically the same schools on Brumbaugh -- USF, Ohio State, Connecticut and Cincinnati -- though he said Brumbaugh has "in the back of his mind" considered entering the NBA Draft, as he pondered two years ago before ultimately opting for college and a short-lived stay at Oklahoma State.
Brumbaugh certainly seems to be taking his academics seriously -- he's taking 15 hours this spring and will need another six in summer to complete the associate of arts degree he'll need to get into a major college. He isn't talking about recruiting, saying he wants his focus to be on his current team and his schoolwork, that he won't take any visits until after his season ends in late February.
"I couldn't ask for anything else out of life right now. This is a real fun blast for me, to be back out here and do what I do," he said. "The plan is to make sure I don't let down or slip off, that I'm eligible for next season. I finished up with a 2.8 (last semester) ... I'm leaving all the (recruiting) stuff up to Coach Worrels right now. I'm trying to go as hard as I can and everything will play itself out."
One more HCC note: if Brumbaugh, at 6-10, 210, is talented-yet-could-bulk-up, check out the end of the HCC bench, where Sudanese center Marial Dhal, 7-foot-3 and 220 pounds, is redshirting. He'll continue to add weight and strength and play next season, giving him three years of eligibility at a major college. Worrels said USF is also well aware of Dhal in their recruiting efforts. Dahl came to HCC from Our Savior New American in Centereach, N.Y., so he was a teammate of Teeng Akol, the 6-foot-11 center now at IMG that's strongly considering USF. They had another teammate at Our Savior named Ring Ayeul, who is listed at 7-foot-5 and will be a senior next season. ...