Point guard McMillan out; Akol coming soon
Point guard Dwan McMillan, who signed with USF in April and was expected to push veteran Chris Howard for a starting job this season, has not been cleared to attend summer classes at USF and likely won't play for the Bulls this season.
USF's incoming players report to campus today, with classes starting Monday, but McMillan won't be among that group because of incomplete academic records from this past school year at St. Benedict Prep in New Jersey. McMillan said Wednesday he is working to clear up issues regarding fifth-year classes, but didn't know whether they would be resolved in time to join the Bulls this season.
"My stuff didn't clear yet. I think it should be clear before summer's over," McMillan said. "I think it's going to happen for me, but it might be too late. I'm quite sure I am going to be cleared, and I want to come to South Florida."
Coach Stan Heath acknowledged a "small window for the future" for McMillan, but said for now, he's not coming to USF. Heath said that the summer session is "really necessary" for incoming players and said he'll be confident entering the season with Howard at point guard, as well as Dominique Jones and Mike Mercer and freshman Gaby Belardo, who have point guard experience as well.
Heath said junior college would be an option, and said he would put in a good word to other coaches if McMillan can find another college where he would not have the same academic hurdles to clear.
There is good news, however, on power forward Teeng Akol, who took college entrance exams for the first time this month and could have a score by today. Akol, reached Tuesday, said "I am positive I did well" and expects to join his USF teammates for summer classes next week. Once his test scores are in, USF can formally sign him to a grant-in-aid and count him as part of the incoming class.
Heath announced USF's 12-game non-conference schedule Wednesday, with the biggest news being a game at Virginia on Nov. 19 that starts a home-and-home series, with the Cavaliers coming to Tampa in 2009. The Bulls open their season at home against SMU, bringing former UNC and Florida Atlantic coach Matt Doherty. We'd previously reported USF's involvement in the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico, as well as the Bulls' game against Vanderbilt in Nashville as part of the SEC-Big East Invitational.
The home dates? Let's just say there are nine compelling Big East games in the Sun Dome, and the nonconference games should ... build confidence for a Bulls team that will have a lot of chemistry to build in a short amount of time with more newcomers than returning players.
Here are the five home opponents: SMU (8-20 last year, RPI 266), High Point (13-14, 231), Northeastern (14-17, 170), Niagara (19-10, 116) and Iona (12-20, 225). Niagara won't be nearly as good, as top scorer Charron Foster (27.6 ppg) graduated. So expect five USF nonconference wins at home, with tough games at Virginia and UAB and a telling game at UCF in December.
Lastly, yes, USF is being mentioned among the schools being considered by Jordan Crawford, a 6-foot-4 guard who is transferring from Indiana after one season. He averaged 9.7 points per game as a Hoosier, hitting 36 percent of his 3-pointers, and has several connections with USF that make the Bulls a viable option. He's from Detroit, and as the Jordan Dumars commitment has shown, Heath is still well-connected there and knows Crawford and his family. Bulls assistant Reggie Hanson coached his brother Joe at Kentucky, and Crawford attended the same Virginia prep school, Hargrave Military Academy, where incoming freshman Eladio Espinosa played this past season. All those things get USF in the door, and the Bulls now have a scholarship available, but they're in tough competition with other major programs closer to home for Crawford, who is still in the process of choosing his options.