Poland doesn't sign: 'I'm opening it back up'
Just two days after committing to USF, junior college wing Jawanza Poland didn't sign with the Bulls as scheduled on Wednesday and said he is "opening it back up" to consider other schools.
USF coach Stan Heath had lined up two of the top junior college wings in the country, and it looks like the presence of guard Hugh Robertson, who signed with the Bulls on Wednesday, has made Poland reconsider choosing the Bulls. USF has two openings with the departure of Dominique Jones and Mike Mercer, but other schools have been able to pry him away from his USF commitment. He's expected to visit Big East rival Cincinnati this weekend -- I wouldn't rule out USF at this point, but it's not a good sign that he's backed off, and answered most questions Wednesday night with a terse "no comment." (Cincinnati, we should point out, just lost an early entry to the NBA draft in freshman Lance Stephenson.)
Wednesday did bring the signings of Robertson and combo guard Shedrick Haynes, who will help address the voids in USF's backcourt with the loss of Jones, Mercer and point guard Chris Howard. Haynes is just 6 feet, but is said to have a 42-inch vertical leap, so he'll not only push Anthony Crater at the point, but can get minutes at shooting guard as well.
"His energy, his motor was at such a high level," said Heath, who didn't know Haynes was from Sarasota when he first saw him in Tulsa early last season. "He's a skilled kid with quickness, and I was on a mission to improve our perimeter shooting."
Toward that end, Robertson now becomes a front-runner for one of the starting spots at 2 or 3 in USF's lineup -- Heath said he's more of a 3/2 than a 2/3, just because of his height at 6-foot-5. Again, Robertson was apparently enough to make Poland think twice, again rated as one of the top junior college players at his position in the country.
"I think he's an important get," Heath said. "To lose Mike and Dominique leaves a huge void, but Hugh has all the ingredients. A guy of his size, with his jumping ability and ability to shoot, he has the whole package. That's a wide-open position, and we need somebody, though it's not going to be a one-man position."
Heath will also have sophomores Mike Burwell and Shaun Noriega, who played sparingly as freshmen, and he's not done recruiting -- we'll find out in the next week or so what other options he has in place if things don't work out with Poland.
I spoke with Joshua Worrell, who is the high school coach of Davante Gardner, the 6-9 center from Virginia, and he's still undecided on where he'll sign, largely between USF and Marquette. If USF were to have a scholarship unused, it would be available for a potential summer transfer, or would give Heath a second scholarship to use for the 2010-11 recruiting class. More to come ...